Supermarkets have become strategy masterminds in their efforts to make you buy more and more each week. The traditional “sale”, that is, lowering a price temporarily to entice you to purchase, has been replaced in many instances by the “two-fer” the price of one, and/or “BOGO” (buy one, get one free or 50% off). Stores are also featuring 10 for $10 mix and match promotions. The word “free” lights up the eyes of most shoppers!
Stores love it because they are moving twice the number of items with this strategy and manufacturers love it because it basically shuts out their competition for a period of time. Cereal A is purchased (2 boxes) and thus Cereal B isn’t, for perhaps weeks at a time.
But two-fers and BOGO’s can work against the older shopper, smaller families, and singles. Many of these groups simply can’t use or will not use multiples in a time that will not allow for spoilage. There also may be space restrictions for storing or freezing items. It’s important to plan out these purchases in advance. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (in their issue paper from August 2012), Americans are throwing away $165 billion dollars a year in wasted food. Smaller households face greater challenges in this area than larger households.
Keep these ideas in the front of your mind:
- On 10/$10 deals for example, often you can buy just 1, 2 or 3 and still get the base price. No reason to stock up if you can’t use them or have no space to store them and many stores don’t require you to purchase 10 items, unless the offer specifically states “must buy 10”.
- Always ask if you can buy just 1 item for half price instead of getting 2 for 1 if that is more suitable to your situation. Ask a manager, after all the worst that can happen is they will say “no”.
- If you are getting a BOGO deal on multiple items, and the prices vary, make sure to match up items of a similar price. For example, on a popular brand of vitamins and supplements that often has BOGO offers, some supplements are around $12 while others are around $40 each. If you are buying 2 of the $12 items and 2 of the $40 items, putting them all together in one purchase will most likely net you a savings of $24 (the 2 cheaper items). But by separating them into two transactions (the first with the lower priced items and the second with the higher priced items), you can net a savings of $52, more than double the savings from a single transaction.
Despite these strategies, for some larger families, these offers can be great cost savers. However, for those in smaller households, sticking to the traditional “lower price” sale item tends to work better.
Bonus tip: Looking for ways to reduce the wasted food (and money) in your household? Check out these suggestions on how to avoid food waste from About.com’s Frugal Living.