9.08.2011

Saving Money in Med School: Price Conscious

Time for another "Saving Money in Med School" post...check out the first few posts here: Coupons 101, General Money Saving Websites and Daily Deals

Being price conscious is a vital part of learning how to save money in medical school (or whatever stage of life you find yourselves in).  Just because an item is on "sale" or "special" doesn't mean that you're saving the big bucks...it might just mean that the store dropped the price a nickel that week!

If you start to pay attention to the normal prices at your store, eventually, you’ll start to really KNOW what a good price is.  Good price on Skippy Natural Peanut Butter?  $1.67.  On Simply OJ?  $2.99.  Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts?  $1.89/lb.  It sounds weird, but you just learn!  This comes in very handy when shopping at places like Target and Walgreens, which may not have as low of prices on items as Meijer has.  I’ve found that quite often, Walgreens will have something on “sale,” but it is still more expensive than Meijer’s normal price.

Also, don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone with stores.  I had driven past Aldi for years, but never stopped.  Now, I know that Aldi is a fabulous store (low prices without coupons!).  Their everyday prices are considerably lower than Meijer though you won't find twelve different kinds of ketchup on the shelf.  I routinely get certain things from Aldi when I know I can’t beat the price at any other store using coupons.  So tortilla chips ($0.99), hummus ($1.69), salmon ($3.69) and pita chips ($1.69) are my Aldi staples, plus whatever good looking produce they have.

Very rarely do I buy something not on sale or with a coupon, or both (aside from staples like produce and eggs!).  We’ve learned that if you aren’t loyal to brands for the most part (especially toiletries, cleaning products, toilet paper, etc), you can save even more.  One person in our family might have an easier time with this than the other.  Somebody is a bit particular….so when I can get a good price on that Old Spice deodorant, I stock up!  ;)

Speaking of stocking up - when you find a good deal on meat, take advantage of it!  I’ll buy the family packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts, take off all of the fat, dice some of them up and leave others whole, and portion them into freezer baggies.  It’s seriously so much better for your bottom line to buy something at a reduced price and freeze/store it than it is to buy something when you need it and it is at its’ highest price.  This goes for pantry items too.  Yes, I could buy a box of whole wheat pasta for $1.89, but I'd rather wait until it goes on sale for $0.99 and use a $0.50 off coupon.  Yes, I could buy a box of organic granola for $4, but I'd rather wait until it goes on sale for $2.50 and use a $0.75 off coupon.

You can easily start to see how knowing the price of items will help you save money and know when you're getting the most bang for you buck...which is the goal here, people!  (As a side note, I someday aspire to do things like this).

Hope you're all having a great week.  Everybody and their sister is talking about how they are loving these "fall-like" temperatures and expressing their excitement for fall, but y'all?  I'm not ready to give up the sunshine and heat quite yet...

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