If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a grandmother in your life, you know exactly how amazing they are. They run households, they raise children and then, instead of taking a well-deserved break, they help raise grandchildren. Adding to their cool factor is the fact that they always seem to have an unlimited supply of Werther’s Originals hidden in their housecoats and resist stabbing you in the hand with a knitting needle when you go digging around in there. Score!
Of course, all those little caramel candies don’t come cheap. It takes a savvy shopper to get the best deal, and grandmas tend to be masters at it. Ready to cut costs like an octogenarian? GOBankingRates asked real grandmas for their best shopping hacks to save you money.
Don't Forget the Coupons
According to Mary Ann Huntington, who is both a grandmother and great-grandmother, you should never underestimate the power of a good coupon. “I have saved hundreds of dollars by using coupons,” she said. Huntington doesn’t just enjoy a good bargain on items for herself, either. She is renowned in her family for her gift-giving. Note that you do not want to go head-to-head with her on Black Friday.
Get Thrifty With It
Debby Alexander, who just welcomed her third grandchild into the family, said, “Thrift stores are fantastic. Goodwill, St. Vinnie’s, local consignment shops — they’re all great. I find great bargains, and if for some reason I find I don’t need the item anymore, I’m grateful I didn’t spend too much to get it in the first place.”
Alexander is one hip grandma and can be spotted in rock-star-worthy boots more often than not. “I have found some of my best and coolest high-heel boots or shoes at thrift stores,” she said, “and they only cost me pennies on the dollar.”
Box It Up
Grandmother Tara L. Paige said that she tends to hit the clearance rack for the best deals, and when she finds a discounted item, “whoever it fits, will be the one to get it.” Because she might not always find something for everyone, she gives these gifts sporadically. Unfortunately, while older family members love her surprise gifts, her young grandchildren don’t always understand why someone got something and they didn’t.
“To solve that, I buy and save the cheap finds in boxes,” Paige said. “I give them all a box with fab goodies at one time. They love it, and I am one winning Nomi — [aka] grandma. In the words of Oprah: You get a box, you get a box, you get a box!”
Don't Charge It
Grandmother Della Brady, who also has two great-grandchildren, said that her own mother had a strict rule when it came to shopping. “You saved your money and never charged anything,” she said. “If you hadn’t saved up enough money to cover the cost of the item outright, you simply had to go without.”
Though credit card rewards make shopping enticing, there is certainly something to be said for living a cash-only lifestyle.
If You Do Use a Credit Card, Know Your Limit
Unlike her mother, Brady enjoys the flexibility of a credit card. However, she is quick to remind others not to abuse them. “I know what my limit is, and I never go over it,” she said. “So, I can charge something to my credit card, but then I pay it off at the end of every month.”
Only Buy What You'll Use
Over the years, Brady has seen a shift at her local grocery chain. More and more, the store offers deals in which you get a discount for buying multiple items. “Sometimes they force you to buy three of something. You can’t just buy one,” she said. While most of the time that isn’t a problem for Brady and her family, she said, “You should only buy things that you’ll actually use.”
It’s easy to get sucked into a good deal, but if you have to buy, say, eight 2-liter bottles of soda to get a discount on them, and you know you’re not a huge soda drinker, it probably doesn’t make sense for you.
Don't Get Sucked Into Home Shopping
As of 2018, home-shopping channel QVC had 8.3 million customers in the U.S. who no doubt love its quality items and convenient ordering process. As great as the channel is, however, it can also lead to overspending if you’re not careful. To save money, Brady said to “turn the TV off and stop watching QVC. If you don’t watch, you won’t impulse shop.”
After a particularly spendy holiday season, the grandmother of five had to put the remote down. “I haven’t watched it since Christmas because you’ll buy things, and then when you get them, you’ll think, ‘Did I really need this?'” she said.
Check Out: How I Quit Impulse Shopping
Forget the Fads
When your kids are grown and out of the house, you shop differently than you previously did. Not only are you presumably buying less, but “you don’t have to buy the latest thing that your kid wanted — Adidas shoes or whatever,” Brady said. “You don’t have to keep up with trends.” Not having to hop on the latest bandwagon and, instead, focusing on high-quality clothing items that stand the test of time can save you a ton in the long run.
Put the Kids Down for a Nap
Kristen Edens, grandmother and blogger behind Managing Midlife, knows the dangers of shopping with children. They snatch up everything, especially items with eye-grabbing, brightly colored packaging that are expensive and not what you came for. Plus, if you say no to the child, you’re looking at a meltdown in aisle 11.
So, when you need to shop, “leave [your] grandchild at home,” Edens said. She acknowledged that this isn’t always possible, but is ideal if you can swing it. “Schedule shopping times when the child is asleep — and another responsible adult is at home, of course — [or] at school or with a friend.” If you shop alone, you can focus on getting the best deal and not the newest, fanciest items.
Always Plan Ahead
Lorraine Dorr, known as “Tutu” to her granddaughter, never shops blindly. “I always go grocery shopping with a preplanned menu for the week — seven days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks — along with a corresponding shopping list.” She sticks to her list so she isn’t tempted to buy extraneous goodies.
Dorr not only saves money with her meal planning, but time and energy as well. “When I get my haul home, I prep veggies, fruits and anything else I can have ready to go ahead of time. That way there’s no waste, and it simplifies making meals.”
There is no need to order takeout during the week when you already have everything ready to go at home, right? Of course, it helps that Dorr is known in her family for her amazing cooking skills.
Join Those Membership Programs
Grandmother Amy Blacklock of the blog Life Zemplified, said to join free, money-saving member programs at all the stores you frequently shop. “Participation is easy, quick and financially beneficial,” she said. By being a member at her local grocery store chain, Blacklock has earned points that she then redeems on gasoline purchases. “When purchasing fuel for our vehicles, we save a minimum of $0.10 per gallon,” she said. “Often, it’s $0.20 to $0.40 per gallon.”
Find Out: 35 Ways to Save Hundreds on Groceries
Use Amazon to Save
Think grandmas aren’t using technology to their advantage? Think again. Blacklock recommends using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature, which “provides savings of up to 15% on orders of five or more items in a delivery period [and] 5% for orders of less than five items.” The grandmother said to consider using it for products you use often such as “coffee, tea, [certain] food items, paper products, diapers, water filters, pet foods, etc.”
With that said, Blacklock also advised that you take a periodic look at local stores’ prices. You want to ensure you’re still getting the best deal by using Amazon.
Stick to Store Brands
“I buy store brands rather than name brands,” said nurse and grandmother of three Justina Oyiboke. “They’re just as good as name brands.” And, she’s right. As long as you can tell you aren’t sacrificing quality with the store brand, it can certainly be cost-effective to make the switch.
Shop the Store's Discounted Section
Oyiboke, also known as “Glam-ma” to her grandbabies, also said, “When it comes to fresh produce, I go to the clearance section of the market and see what they have. Things you usually would get at regular price may be half [off].” Of course, she makes sure to inspect the produce, so she knows that it’s still in good shape. And, if it’s good enough to buy but she knows she won’t be using it soon, Oyiboke said, “I put it in the freezer to have later, and it won’t go bad.”
Buy in Bulk
Yvonne Fornelli-Furlough, a decidedly cool grandma who spends her downtime at breweries with her husband, said, “I like to buy in bulk at Costco to save money for things my granddaughter likes.” She has been working at Costco for over 28 years, so she may be biased, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s scored some great deals on everyday items. “I save on things like [my granddaughter’s] juices, mac and cheese, snacks and [other] things my picky eater enjoys. I like to have what I know she eats,” she said.
Remember to Budget
Doris Aguilera, a 90-year-old mother of nine and grandmother to a whopping 20 kids, said that the key to shopping is to make sure you’ve budgeted properly for it. “I never had a job to support myself and my family, so I would rely on the money my husband sent back to Mexico while working as a bracero (a seasonal agricultural worker) in the states,” she said. “We lived off that money as a monthly budget.” It was important for the large family to know where every cent was going and only shop for what they could truly afford, Aguilera said.
Click through to read more about the best budgeting tips from a mother of three.
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