Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Value of a Dollar

When is the last time you checked out a “dollar store?” Or maybe a discount store such as Big Lots? Well, it may be time to do so again.

In the last couple of years, I have noticed that many dollar stores seem to have disappeared. It really didn’t surprise me as I’m sure it takes a considerable volume of sales to pay the rent. However, just recently it seems that I’m seeing more dollar stores opening up again. In my quest for furthering my dollar, I decided to check them out.

I found Dollar Tree to be surprisingly good. This store is a true “dollar store,” meaning that every item in the store sells for $1 or less. They seem to consistently carry a variety of name-brand products. And even their food items have been within the “sell-by” date. In the past I have seen a fair amount of “outdated” foods in various dollar stores so I’m always cautious about the expiration dates. I even bought a loaf of bread from there that was fresh from the bakery – name brand, whole wheat! You can find a wide variety of items – greeting cards, paper products, seasonal items, cleaning products, food, and much more.

I’ve also seen Dollar General and Family Dollar stores opening up. These stores are not ones that have every item for $1, but they do have some good discounts on name-brand items. Be sure to know your prices before going shopping because other store sales may be the better deal. But, you may just find some incredible bargains as well.

Big Lots also seems to be expanding their store locations. Big Lots are usually fairly large stores that sell just about everything, including furniture. Their prices are discounted as, I believe, they buy out inventory from stores going out of business, or perhaps shipments that are rejected due to outer packaging being damaged, etc.

I’m sure there are many other similar stores around the country. I encourage you to go check them out periodically. These stores won’t always have everything in stock, but when you find what you need, it’s usually for a great price.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stocking Up

In last week’s article I mentioned the importance of stocking up when items are on sale in order to not have to pay full price in between sales. Obviously, the immediate savings on the price is of value. However, another very important reason for purchasing in this manner is to eliminate the need for shopping at multiple stores in order to get the best prices. When you are driving all over town for the best prices, you are spending money on gas, wear & tear on your vehicle and, of course, your valuable time. It is helpful to know which stores have the lowest prices for regular priced items, but don’t assume that a discount store is going to be less costly than another store. Many discount stores, such as Walmart and Target, may have a lower regular price on the items you use, but generally I find that other stores have sales that are far better, especially when those sales are BOGO (buy one, get one free) sales. I usually only shop discount stores for items I rarely see on sale. And then when I go, I try to stock up enough that I won’t have to go back more than once a month.

Many people ask me where I find coupons. There are many sources that I will list below:

-The Sunday Newspaper. Almost every week, aside from a holiday weekend, there will be coupon inserts in the paper. Call and check the pricing on home delivery of your local paper. Oftentimes, home delivery is less expensive than buying it in the store. Also check the dollar stores in your area as many will carry the Sunday paper throughout the week, and often for a discounted price. I also know of people who have arranged to go into stores early on Monday morning and get the coupon inserts from the remaining papers.

-Many manufacturer’s will have printable coupons on their websites. If they don’t, email them and ask them for coupons. Many times they will send you a nice batch of coupons in the mail!

-Look for “blinkies” in stores – these are the coupons that are in a dispenser on the store shelves next to the products

-Look in magazines. Walmart’s All You Magazine is a great one for coupons - http://www.allyou.com/. A subscription rate is better than purchasing it at the store each month, but the coupons are not always the same. And many of these coupons are for health & beauty items so you may want to purchase a couple of issues before subscribing in case you find you don’t use enough to make it worth it.

-Many mid-week papers have coupon inserts as well. Locally the “Forum” and “Jewish Journal” both have coupons and they come out on Wednesday. Both of these papers are free.

-Publix has several magazines that usually have coupons in them. I suggest subscribing to them (they are free) as the store copies don’t always have the coupons.
Publix Greenwise - http://publix.com/wellness/greenwise/feature/Home.do
Publix FamilyStyle - http://publix.com/clubs/familystyle/Home.do
Publix Wine Guide - http://publix.com/clubs/wine/Home.do (I am not a wine drinker but sometimes there are coupons for cheese or other things that go good with wine)

In addition, if you qualify, sign up for the following:
Publix Baby Club - http://publix.com/clubs/baby/Home.do
Publix Preschool Pals - http://publix.com/preschool/NonMemberHome.do
These “clubs” offer coupons in the mail periodically.

Many stores will have extra coupon booklets that come out through the year. Always check their sales flyer areas to see if they have any available.