Here are some of my favorite “price choppers.” See how may others you can come up with.
1. Check out your favorite stores for their senior discount policy. Some stores offer a 5-10% discount on all purchases made by seniors every day of the week. Others have a senior day, perhaps on Wednesday of each week, where seniors get a 20% discount. You may have to ask for the discount, although many stores now just automatically figure in the discount for anyone who looks as though they might fit into the “senior” category. The important thing is to be armed ahead of time with the policy of each store so that you can arrange your shopping trips in order to take advantage of any savings you are entitled to.
2. See if you regularly use items that can be diluted or otherwise cut back on to save money and to make your product last longer.
a. The recommended amount of laundry detergent is often far more than necessary to get clothes clean. Experiment to see how little you can actually get by with.
b. Reuse dryer softener sheets. I usually save them in a small cardboard box until I get a sizeable number. Then I place them in the laundry room and use two each time until they are gone. Not a huge savings, but a worthwhile one.
c. Dilute thick shampoo with water. Keep a spare bottle on hand and pour half of your new bottle into the spare bottle. Then fill both the rest of the way with water. Once they are shaken up, you can barely tell the difference, and it doesn’t take forever to get the shampoo to come out of the top opening like it does with the thicker shampoo. (This really works well when teen-age grandchildren come to visit. They love to slop it on, and this way, they are really only using half as much, but will never even notice.)
d. My husband’s very favorite trick is to save several “used up” tubes of toothpaste, snip the bottom off of each one, and see how many brushings he can still get out of an “empty” tube of toothpaste. He is known as the toothpaste miser around our house.
e. Buy large economy sizes of things like catsup, mayonnaise, and spaghetti. Then divide them into smaller containers so that the extra won’t spoil after the package or bottle has been opened. (Reasonably priced re-closeable containers are available at most department stores.)
3. Pick up gift items for birthdays and for Christmas throughout the year. If you keep your eyes open, you will find lovely gift items for a fraction of their original cost this way. Keep them tucked away in a closet somewhere so that they will be ready at a moment’s notice. Cards and wrapping paper are also great items to stock up on ahead of time. No last minute rushing out to buy Aunt Harriet a birthday gift. All you need is a 5-minute notice and you will have a gorgeous gift wrapped and ready to go.
4. Make lists. Grocery shop with a list to discourage impulse purchases. Post a list at home so other members of the household will be reminded to keep an eye out for a good buy on posted items. Update your lists frequently.
5. Eat out infrequently. As well as being less expensive, home-cooked meals are usually healthier. Watch for coupons offering senior discounts or special prices at your favorite restaurants for when you do go out. Eating out too frequently can quickly become so routine that it no longer seems to be a special treat. Save eating out for special occasions, and you’ll be surprised at how much more you enjoy it.
6. Don’t overlook online shopping if you are a regular computer user. Do your homework and you will often find brand-name products at huge discounts. Watch for special times when online stores are offering “no-shipping cost” prices. Many stores like Target, Circuit City, Staples, and Walmart now have online outlets where you can order online and choose home delivery or you can pick up the item at your local store. No more being jostled about by other shoppers; perfect for Christmas shopping from an easy chair in your very own living room.