It's true that while one store may save a shopper money on shampoo another store will do that same for grapes. Yet, traveling to these different stores to save pennies here and there often isn't worth the gas it takes, especially with today's gas prices. Instead, choose a few select stores for shopping needs, and choose them based on which ones will save you the most money.
Look At Their Brands
Store brands, or generic, are often the best way to save money, and most stores today offer a store brand. However, check the number of store brand products offered at different stores. Many stores offer these in-house versions, but they limit the varieties. For instance, there may be a generic pudding on the shelf but only in chocolate. If you're a butterscotch fan, this store isn't offering you a service by creating its own brand.
Another point to watch is the quality of the store brand. While some may offer a generic version of most products on the shelf, if the versions aren't up to par with the name brand versions they're not worth it.
Cash Back or Store Credit?
Some stores offer promotions which earn "cash back" for shopping. However, this "cash back" is most likely a store coupon or credit. Yet, if it's your weekly grocery store the store credit is as good as cash.
One store which offers such deals is Staples. Staples offers a variety of programs which allow a customer to earn "reward checks" quarterly depending upon how much is spent in the store. Usually, a few cartridges of printer ink qualifies for a quarterly $10 reward check to use towards additional supplies. In addition, the store gives $3 worth of store credit for each empty ink cartridge which is returned. Likewise, the store brand products match in price those offered at other stores.
Another way to earn "cash back" is to talk to the bank. Some banks offer a cash back reward in the form of gift cards which are earned by using their issued debit cards. By running the card through as a credit card rather than a debit card, the cardbearer earns points which accumulate into gift cards for a variety of stores. Check that there are no fees involved for using the card as credit rather than debit before earning those points.
Cash for Credit
Credit cards offer a similar plan, but this can be dangerous. Only the careful home banker can manage to put each week's grocery bill on the credit card and pay the entire balance by the end of the month. This plan evokes no finance charge with the company but does earn a cash back reward at the end of the year.
Not all cash back programs are worth what they claim. Beware of loopholes and excessive spending which is how the stores cash in on the promotion. As always, stay savvy and choose the program which works best for you.
About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at Englishteach@rcn.com or visit her website at http://users.rcn.com/wesavedamutt/Writer
Don't forget about stores that price match. Walmart, Best Buy, and Michaels just to name a few. Bring in the competitor's ad and they will honor the price. Makes for true one-stop shopping!
I hate grocery shopping at WalMart; to me the small savings is not worth giving up having my groceries carried to my car and the excellent customer service I get at the grocery store. And I've found things cheaper at the grocery store. No standing in long lines when returning an item and the extra perks like getting meat sliced or ground the way I like it. I cut costs in other ways to make up the small difference. Plus I don't like the way WalMart runs their business and the way the company treats their employees. But everyone to his/her own taste.
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