How to Adjust Your Frugal Mindset

Probably the most difficult thing about learning to save money when you shop is adjusting your mindset.  I struggled with this for a very long time and when I finally accepted some basic principles it all fell into place and I began to start saving money. Here are 7 basic steps that will help you shop effectively and save you money.

Lose Brand Loyalty

Before I started shopping this way I was very particular about the brands that I used.  The same products were in my shopping cart every week.  This is still the case to some extent…there are certain brands that I just feel are better than others…so when I DO find a good deal on them I buy, buy, buy.  I had to learn to let go of some of that loyalty in order to get better deals.  This does not necessarily mean buy plain label…it just means try new things out.

Allowing myself to shop for new products/brands turned out to be great!  We were able to try new products…often items that I deemed “too expensive” in the past….and turned into some of our favorites.

Shop Deals, Not What You Need

The concept of “stockpiling” was the hardest for me to accept.  How on earth could I save money if I was buying more than what I needed?  The key was that I was buying things on a deep discount…toilet paper at $0.35 per 4pack instead of $2.99.  I may not have NEEDED toilet paper at exactly that moment…but we will need toilet paper again at some point.  After a very short time I was able to prepare my menus based on what I had in the house…and my shopping lists were based on the best deals and my week to week perishables.

Bigger is Not Always Better

Buying in bulk does not always save you money.  If you look for deals and use coupons on smaller items…you may find that ultimately you are paying less per ounce.  Buying 3 small containers of oatmeal at $2.09 with 3 $1/1 coupon you will spend $3.27.  Buying one big container at $5.00 with a $1/1 coupon you will be paying more money, for less product.

I keep a small plastic container on my washing machine and I fill it with sample sized laundry detergent.  Buying sample sized products like this will often net you FREE product.  All Laundry detergent is $1.02 at Target in the sample bins.  You will often find $1/1 coupons for any sized all in your weekly inserts.  Sample sized Tide works the same way.  This past weekend’s P&G insert had a $1/1 any size Tide coupon.  If you use several of these at one time…free product!  Cheaper than $1 off of one large container…you just have to decide if you can make this work for you.

Recognize the Difference Between a “Sale” and a “Deal”

Just because you have a coupon doesn’t make something a great deal.  If you use coupons because you have them…not because its a great deal or because you desire the product…you will end up spending more money at the end.  A great “deal” will combine a store sale and your coupons and will result in a greatly discounted price.  Stocking your shelves when you find a great deal will absolutely save you money.

Pay It Forward

There are often free products to be had at many stores if you apply sales and coupons correctly.  These are not always products that my family will use…but that doesn’t mean that SOMEONE won’t use them!  There are food pantries and non profit organizations in every community that are desperate for donations.  If you can “purchase” a razor for $0.30 you certainly don’t need 10 of them… but a shelter most definately could.  Use some of your skills and good fortune to pay it forward.

Shop From a List/Menu

Always take a list with you and stick to it.  Plan before you go what you are going to purchase…which sales match which coupons and what your necessities are.  Stick to the list!!  “Impulse buys” add up very quickly and can destroy even the best planning.

Set and Follow a Budget

Knowing what you have available to you to spend is crucial.  Sticking to that number is even more important.  You may find that planning a monthly number works better than week to week budgeting.  Then if you spend more one week…you know you can balance it out by spending less the next week.  Take a calculator with you to the store and add up your purchases as you go.  If you feel the need to buy things that aren’t on your list keep a separate list of what it would cost you.  When you watch the numbers add up it is much less difficult to put them back on the shelves!