Do you have some observations/guidelines about the annual sales of certain staples?
Right around Easter you mentioned that you were stocking up on flour because that’s usually the last time it goes on sale for awhile. I was a little low myself and saw that flour was selling for a very good price at Safeway. I stocked up as much as I could on your advice. Lo and behold, you were right. I haven’t been able to buy flour for that price ever since. I buy fruit and vegetables in season, but I’m wondering about other staples now. Do you know if there’s a good time to buy sugar? Canned tomatoes or other canned goods? Meats that can be frozen? Is there any kind of cycle w/paper products (unlikely, I suppose).
Sugar sales usually happen around the same time that flour sales happen. Actually, most baking supplies go on sale all at the same time. More people bake around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter than any other times of the year, so the stores put their baking supplies on sale in order to entice you into their store.
It’s easier to find a flour sale around the holidays than it is to find a sugar sale, but if you keep an eye on the sale ads, you can usually find a good price on sugar.
Meats are a little more difficult to predict. My stores seem to run sales on meats in pretty regular cycles year round. For example, my Weis store puts Tyson chicken breasts on sale for $1.69 every so often, and I’ve found that buying two large packs is usually enough to tide me over until the next $1.69 sale. A few exceptions to this are turkey (super cheap from November-December), and hot dogs/bratwurst/grilling meats (on sale during grilling season, along with ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, and the like).
In my area, canned goods don’t seem to be deeply discounted at any particular time of year, but it’s possible that I’ve missed a trend since I don’t buy a whole lot in the way of canned groceries.
I’ve also not noticed any pattern with paper products, although sometimes paper towels go on sale when stores run spring cleaning specials. (Incidentally, though, I think that the best way to save on paper towels is to avoid using them as much as possible in the first place. Ditto for napkins. Not ditto for toilet paper, unless you own a bidet or something. )
Your latest post made me wonder: don’t you ever WANT anything that’s not frugal?I often do well with grocery shopping. I shop every day for my household and make a trip of it: walk to the local Whole Foods, buy just what we need for dinner, breakfast and lunch, and then come back and cook. I find this way, I don’t over-buy, and produce doesn’t go bad. (not for everyone, but I’ve got time on my hands and it’s good exercise).But every so often, I’ll see something (bottle of wine, pair of shoes, an extravagant purse) and will succumb to the temptation—this is what usually throws off my frugal attempts.I’d just like to hear if you’ve got something you succumb to, how you deal with the urges (even if things don’t go on sale often), and what you do to tide yourself over.-Reese
I think I’ve mentioned before that I am naturally frugal. I’m pretty sure I was just born this way, as I can remember debating for quite a while over buying a $14.99 sweater when I was a teen (and had much more than $14.99 in my account). Because frugality is in my blood and is not something I just do because I feel I ought to, resisting temptation in this arena is not particularly difficult for me.
This doesn’t mean you should be terribly impressed by my self-control…on the contrary, you should probably be less than impressed because I don’t have to exert a lot of effort to save my money. I’m just not tempted by most consumer goods out there, and I’m more than happy to patiently wait for something to show up on Freecycle or at Goodwill.
However, this is not to say that I don’t ever spend money on things that are sort of extravagant/expensive. On the contrary, I think frugal living allows me to spend money on things I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. And quite honestly, the idea of never spending money on anything fun or nice is really unappealing to me, and it’s not the way I live.
I recently spent over $1000 on a camera lens, for example. I spent $25 apiece on my loaf pans from Williams-Sonoma. Also, we’re going to the beach for two weeks next month which isn’t exactly the most frugal choice ever.
There are two things, I think, that help me to resist spur-of-the-moment spending and help me avoid sabotaging our financial future.
1) I save up for non-frugal expenses. We started saving for this year’s vacation as soon as we got home last year, so going on vacation is not going to disrupt our finances. Our rental is all paid for, and we have gas and spending money saved up, which is a delightful feeling. I earned money for my camera lens by doing some side work this spring, so buying it didn’t derail us, and I used birthday money to buy my loaf pans (because I am weird and enjoy spending birthday money on things like that!).
As long as your budget isn’t the sort where you’re just barely getting by, I would highly recommend setting aside money for things that you want. For instance, you could allow yourself $40 a month for food splurges, if that’s what really blows your hair back. Or you could give yourself a clothing budget, and if you manage not to spend your clothing budget each month, you could save up enough to buy that expensive purse.
2) I keep my goals in mind. Part of the reason that spending isn’t usually tempting to me is that I’ve got bigger and better things in mind. Short-term, I want to save up enough to pay for a car in cash. Long-term, I want to save for our children’s college expenses and our retirement, and I want to pay off our mortgage early. And when that happens, we’d like to use our new-found financial freedom to give more than we can give now.
Most of the time, these goals are not something that I want to give up for the short-term pleasure of buying something. However, I don’t want to live my whole life depriving myself and my family of some of the pleasures that money can buy, so we do choose to spend some of our money instead of saving it all.
To use my examples above, family vacations are important to us, nice photography equipment is important to me, and quality kitchen equipment is important to me. However, brand new clothes are not terribly important to me, (especially when I can find nice used items)and neither is regular take-out.
Of course, the balance between saving for the future and spending in the here and now will look different for everyone, but I think that what is most important is that you make a plan that allows for both in a way that fits your income and your goals.
How do you deal with temptation? Please share any tips you have for Reese! And if you’ve noticed some seasonal sales trends that I haven’t, let us know.