Do You Really Know What Your Are Paying For? PDF Print E-mail

I’m on a mission. I am slowly and deliberately eliminating the need to go to the grocery store - the “teat” of consumer-minded Americans.

As most may know, I began my journey into a more self-reliant lifestyle in 2008 when I jumped off the corporate bandwagon (leaving a six figure income and cashing in my 401k) and headed for the “hills” … sans the heels (whaaaa!! I miss my shoes!!!)  Okay I’m better.

I started my elimination process, by going through my past grocery store recipes to see where I was actually spending the most on “consumer products”. You know those items we use and throw away or are discarded, only to replace them with more? Get it? “Consumer” as in we consume regularly and discard a lot?

So, my first question was how often do I go to the grocery store? My second, how often do any of us go?

In my research I found a study that showed the trend in 1997 was 94 trips per year or 1.8 trips per week. But, by 2008, we were up to 98 trips per year or 1.9 trips per week. And that was four years ago. (http://www.americascheapestfamily.com/polls/grocery-store)


So how do we work towards not going to the grocery store as often?  Well, just like every good prepper would - start with a list. Not a shopping list. But a running list of things you are getting low on. By doing this you can see what “consumer products” are being used the most and your family’s trend on using these items. Then focus on alternatives for these items. We are preppers after all and “getting back to a more self-reliant lifestyle’ is a big part of it. 

dish cloth2shop towels2If paper towels are a recurring item on the list think of ways these can be eliminated or at least reduced. Say, dish cloths for clean-ups and spills?  Or shop towels – both can be washed and reused. And toilet paper … no I’m not going to suggest you use the yellow pages out of your phonebook - but keep this suggestion in mind if the poo-hits-the-fan *grin* but (another *grin*) look for family appropriate alternative.

If you have $100 to spend, make it count. Take a calculator with you to the store.  Keep in mind while you shop, convenience costs a lot. By taking a moment to input the price of a product, you will be amazed at how true to your budget you will stay and save. unit price sticker

Also, start looking at the unit cost of the product rather than the retail cost. The unit cost is what the item costs per pound, per oz., per gallon, you get the idea.  You can usually find this information on the shelf label next to the price. Compare the unit cost with products of like units because it doesn’t work if you are comparing the unit price in gallons verse that of pounds … just sayin’. Look for the unit price of say the oz.’s of cookies to the unit price of oz.’s of a comparative brand. 

And speaking of comparative brands, this leads me to something a lot of us fall into ... the store brand (private label) vs. the national spend-a-lot-of-money-on-the wrapper/label-and-advertising products. Yes, the labels are prettier and brighter and more happy-happy joy-joy. But you are paying for that “papered-joy” in the way if cost of research and development, packaging, advertising, and marketing.  If you haven’t already done this - just for grins and giggles compare the unit prices of a store brand vs. national brand.  Let me share a little secret … some of the same companies manufacture both the store brands (private labeled) and the national brands.  And just so you won’t feel like you are the only one buying the “cheap-chips”, almost two-thirds of shoppers surveyed in May and June 2012 by the management consulting company Accenture said that their grocery carts were at least half full of store-brand products. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/10/store-brand-vs-name-brand-taste-off/index.htm)  And, when it all comes down to it ... food is food.  I doubt very seriously, that when hard times come, and they will, you will turn your nose up at a can of food because it is a store brand, right? 

store brandBy shopping store brands you can save an average of 30 percent.  This means, if you spend $100 a week on groceries, those savings add up to more than $1,500 a year. That’s $1,500 to spend on preps. Again, just sayin. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/october/shopping/store-brands-vs-name-brands/overview/index.htm).

But what about buying items on sale?  Well, if the truth be told, even at the sales price you are still paying more than you would to buy the store brand … unless the sale IS on the store brand. Then score!

Another “trap” I fell into was at the big box stores. Let me give you an example. 6 lbs. of spaghetti was $5.76 or .96 per lb. at the big box store.  At the grocery store buying the store brand the spaghetti was .87 a lb. or $5.22. And, usually we need to drive farther for a big box store … so with the gas used … where’s the savings?  See what I’m saying?

So get out your store receipts and start that list! (You might even save enough to get that awesome pair of heels … again I digress *sigh*)

Just Sayin'

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- Survivor Jane

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