grocery savings http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7325/all en-US Grocery Shopping and the 4-Minute Mile: How to Challenge Yourself http://www.wisebread.com/grocery-shopping-and-the-4-minute-mile-how-to-challenge-yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/grocery-shopping-and-the-4-minute-mile-how-to-challenge-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2554879922_1e6e082f8f_b.jpg" alt="preparing to run" title="preparing to run" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="169" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I teach workshops about cutting the grocery budget, I always start with one basic tip &mdash; create a set weekly (or monthly) grocery budget, and stick to it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grocery-shop-for-five-on-100-a-week">How to Grocery Shop for Five on $100 a Week</a>)</p> <p>Why do I recommend setting a specific goal instead of going into the grocery store and just looking for the cheapest variety of everything on your list?</p> <p>Think about the four-minute mile.</p> <p>Yes, I'm seriously comparing grocery shopping to competitive athletics. But I have science backing me up on this!</p> <p>According to the scientific paper <a href="http://www.ida.liu.se/~nilda/Anders_Ericsson/Ericsson_delib_pract.pdf">Development&nbsp;of Superior Expert Performance</a> (PDF) by K. Anders Ericsson, the four-minute mile &ldquo;had been viewed as the ultimate limit for performance, but after (Roger) Bannister broke the four-minute barrier, several other runners were able to do so within a couple of years.&rdquo;</p> <p>Nowadays sub-four-minute miles are normal for professional competitive runners.</p> <p>What does that have to do with grocery shopping? This scientific research shows that no matter what skill we are working on, the only way to achieve superior performance is by targeted practice. When we learn a new skill &mdash; start a job, learn to type, whatever &mdash; we usually improve with practice <em>at first</em> &mdash; UNTIL we achieve an acceptable level of proficiency &mdash; then we go on autopilot.</p> <p>Does <em>autopilot</em> describe you in the grocery store since about age 22? We're out of Cheerios &mdash; in the cart. We need bread &mdash; in the cart. Ooh that's on sale &mdash; in the cart.</p> <p>If you want to run a faster mile or become a better dancer or grocery shop more effectively, you need to get off autopilot. The way an Olympic runner's coach gets her off autopilot is by setting a goal that is just outside her current ability level. This motivates her to find ways to overcome the obstacles between her and that faster mile. The same thing goes for grocery shopping, or any other life skill you'd like to improve.</p> <p>In the example of grocery shopping, my first step was to figure out how much I was spending each week at the supermarket. I knew I was putting in an effort to save, but I honestly didn't know how much I was spending. So first, I simply kept a few week's worth of receipts so I could get a ballpark idea of what I usually spent. This averaged out to about $100 a week for a family of two adults, one kid, and one infant.</p> <p>Second, I decided to set my new grocery budget at 80% of my former spending. So I set the goal of getting everything we needed for a week's worth of healthy meals (and toiletries and household items such as diapers) for $80 a week.</p> <p>Then, of course, I was forced to figure out ways to accomplish that goal. That's where the challenge came in. I tried new things that I would not have tried otherwise &mdash; I checked out nearby stores I had never visited to see if they were less expensive. I researched strategic coupon use and learned a lot of tricks for combining coupons, sales, and other incentives. I started tracking which foods were always less expensive &mdash; which had me <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meat-money-grocery-saving-tips-for-carnivores">buying less meat</a>, of course, and leaning toward carrots and heads of cabbage over green beans and packaged lettuce.</p> <p>You can apply this challenge tactic to any life skill you'd like to improve. Of course, not everything is as easy to quantify as your weekly grocery bill, but everything can be measured. You want to improve your relationship with your kids? Write down every positive activity you did with them in the past week, and then decide how you would like to build on that. Want to play the violin more proficiently? You can challenge yourself in terms of minutes of practice first, then set out specific challenges during that practice time, such as tackling exercises and pieces that are just outside your current ability.</p> <p>Then keep measuring. If your challenge is successful, you may want to set a new goal to keep yourself off autopilot.</p> <p>One more ingredient that is very useful in self-challenging &mdash; accountability. Competitive athletes have coaches and teammates to answer to, but the rest of us are often lonely in our pursuits to better ourselves. Having a running buddy is nice, but sharing your written targets with your running buddy and reviewing them periodically? That's effective self-challenging.</p> <p>Personally, as a <a href="http://chicago.frugalisticmom.com/">frugal blogger</a>, I keep myself accountable by posting my grocery budget goals online and reporting on my weekly shopping trips. Knowing that I will have to tell the world that I went over budget has been a powerful help when faced with the temptation to overspend, especially on things like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-wines-under-10-dollars">wine</a> or chocolate. I can be a harsh coach to myself, but Internet commenters are probably the harshest masters of all!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/grocery-shopping-and-the-4-minute-mile-how-to-challenge-yourself">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-all-the-frugal-skills-you-need-with-these-9-great-video-tutorials">Learn All the Frugal Skills You Need With These 9 Great Video Tutorials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/finding-balance-how-to-practice-moderation">Finding Balance: How to Practice Moderation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-fortune-become-your-own-hero">How to Make Your Fortune: Become Your Own Hero</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Personal Development challenges grocery savings how to improve motivation running Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:24:07 +0000 Carrie Kirby 923890 at http://www.wisebread.com The Store Sales Cycle: Your Monthly Guide to Clearance Prices http://www.wisebread.com/the-store-sales-cycle-your-monthly-guide-to-clearance-prices <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-store-sales-cycle-your-monthly-guide-to-clearance-prices" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000003869958Small.jpg" alt="Women shopping" title="Women shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My recent article on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-couponing-5-reasons-why-i-ll-pass">extreme couponing</a> definitely got people talking. There's nothing like a lively debate. However, I always like to take something positive away from even the most negative of experiences, and I did discover something that extreme couponers know well &mdash; the store sales cycle.</p> <p>For various reasons, including overstocking of products that are in season and clearing the aisles for the next big holiday, stores put items on sale at the same times every year. With very few exceptions, the same products get cleared out as regularly as clockwork every year, and knowing when they go on sale can help you stock up and save money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar">Wise Bread's Shopping Calendar</a> product-buying guides)</p> <p>Here's a basic, month-by-month guide to the major products, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fresh-fruits-and-vegetables-by-the-month">produce</a>, and categories that go on sale throughout the year.</p> <p>Keep it handy the next time you plan a big shop, or when you clip a few coupons (I'm not against coupons, just extreme couponing). This is for the United States, by the way; other countries will have the same kinds of sales after major holidays or events, but many other factors will vary the list.</p> <h2>January</h2> <p>Super Bowl is just around the corner, so look for bargains on Pepsi and Coke products, chips and dips, cheese, beer, crackers, snacks, hot dogs and wings, frozen appetizers, and pizzas. Also, with the diet trend in full swing with the start of a new year, look for low-fat, low-carb specials: granola bars, diet frozen meals, diet cereals, yogurts, diet sodas and drinks, and Slim Fast shakes. And as it is cold and flu season, look for bargains in the medicine aisles, including vitamins, fish oils, cold remedies, and chapsticks.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Preparation for Super Bowl Sunday, New Year's Resolutions</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, leeks, lemons, oranges, papayas, tangelos, and tangerines.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>The holidays are over, so look for major bargains in toys, Christmas decorations, seasonal candy, wrapping papers, and greeting cards.</p> <h2>February</h2> <p>Did you know there was a month devoted to canned goods? Well, it comes with great bargains. And as canned food takes forever to go bad, you can stock up on items like soups, canned vegetables and fruits, canned pie fillings, and canned meats and seafood. This is also a good time to grab breakfast foods, like oatmeal, waffles, and syrups.</p> <p>Chinese New Year also brings bargains in the specialty food aisles, so grab soy sauce, noodles, canned Asian products (vegetables and sauces), dried Asian mushrooms, and Asian cooking oils.&nbsp;</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Valentine's Day, Black History Month, Chinese New Year, National Canned Food Month</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, and papayas.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>The day for love is followed by a week of sales. Once Valentine's Day is done, look for major bargains on heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, flowers, themed candies, greeting cards and wrap, perfumes, and deodorant gift boxes.</p> <h2>March</h2> <p>Clear out the freezer for Frozen Food Month. You&rsquo;ll find hundreds of deals in the frozen food aisles, including plenty of frozen vegetables, meats, readymade meals, breakfast items, and pizzas. A lot of products go on sale this month for spring cleaning, including paper towels, cleaning supplies, cloths, garbage bags, and protective gloves.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>St. Patrick&rsquo;s Day, Frozen Food Month, Mardi Gras</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Broccoli, lettuce, pineapples, and mangoes.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>Great sales items follow St. Paddy&rsquo;s Day, including themed beer glasses, t-shirts, signs, decorations, and candies. Guinness items often go on sale, too.</p> <h2>April</h2> <p>Lots of baking supplies go on sale in April. Look for bargains in the baking aisles, like sugar, flour, cake mixes, nuts, coconut, marshmallows, cake decorating supplies, butter and margarine, chocolate chips, and sprinkles. Earth Day also brings bargains in the organic section of the store, as well as savings on energy-efficient bulbs, tofu, reusable bags, and biodegradable products.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Easter, Earth Day</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Broccoli, lettuce, zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, pineapples, and mangoes.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>A glut of cheap candy is coming your way with after-Easter bargains including chocolate eggs and bunnies, baskets, toys, themed decorations, and egg-painting kits.</p> <h2>May</h2> <p>The first great grilling event of the year brings bargains in meats, cheeses, BBQ sauces, charcoal, salads and salad dressings, chips and dips, marinades, hot dogs, burgers, and buns. You&rsquo;ll also find Cinco De Mayo deals, including drink mixes, tortillas, spices, and liquor.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Memorial Day, Cinco De Mayo, Mother&rsquo;s Day</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Okra, zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, lettuce, cherries, pineapples, and apricots.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>Once Mother&rsquo;s Day is over, you can expect bargain flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, craft items, clothing, and other themed products. The same is true for Memorial Day and Cinco De Mayo leftovers, including decorations, t-shirts and aprons, eating utensils, paper plates, sunscreen, and insect repellant.</p> <h2>June</h2> <p>Celebrating dairy products for National Dairy Month means that there are deals galore, including eggs, milk, cheese, cream cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, frozen yogurt, creams, and whipped toppings. You should also see bargains for 4th of July preparation, including condiments, charcoal, salad dressing, and chips and dips.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Father&rsquo;s Day, National Dairy Month</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Corn, lettuce, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, and apricots.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>After Father's Day, expect clearance items like themed ties, t-shirts, boxed deodorant/aftershave sets, greeting cards, tool sets, gift wrap, and gardening items.</p> <h2>July</h2> <p>No big surprises here. July 4th brings some great bargains on sodas, juice boxes, hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, chicken, salmon, BBQ sauces, condiments, charcoal, salad dressings, liquor and drink mixes, chips and dips, aluminum foil, and baking potatoes. You&rsquo;ll also find some great deals in the ice cream aisles.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Independence Day, National Ice Cream Month</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, corn, green beans, lettuce, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, apricots, kiwi, raspberries, and plums.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>After July 4th, look for all kinds of slashed prices on things like themed decorations, paper plates and napkins, utensils, banners, patriotic pins, and flags. You should also see the beginning of some back-to-school bargains.</p> <h2>August</h2> <p>As you get into back-to-school mode, look for a feeding frenzy with juice boxes, Lunchables and other ready-made kid snacks, cereals, pudding cups, tissues, granola bars, fruit snacks, canned fruit, lunchmeats, and cheese slices. Also, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and cleaning wipes.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Back to School</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Cucumbers, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, green beans, lettuce, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, apricots, kiwi, raspberries, and plums.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to believe, but by August the retailers are already done with summer and are planning for Halloween. Seriously. So look for clearance items like sunscreen, insect repellent, swimsuits, shorts, caps, sporting goods, tents, charcoal, flip-flops, and water toys.</p> <h2>September</h2> <p>Another month, another reason to get the grill out. Actually, it&rsquo;s probably the last major time to do it before the winter, so look for the usual BBQ special offers. Back-to-school products are still going strong with special offers, and a lot of breakfast products will be on sale, ready to help you get your kids in the mood for school. September is also a good time to get your diabetes supplies, including glucose meters, testing strips, and sugar-free products.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Labor Day, Hispanic Heritage Month</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Eggplants, pumpkins, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, grapes, and pomegranates.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>Once the kids are actually back in school, all of those supplies go on sale. Look for pencils, pens, erasers, scissors, notebooks, backpacks, and all sorts of other school supplies.</p> <h2>October</h2> <p>With the holidays approaching fast, the baking aisles start to offer tempting sales. Canned pumpkin, pie crusts, baking chips, chocolates, and other baking supplies go on sale now. There&rsquo;s also an Italian flavor to the special offers in October, with wines, pasta products, and frozen pizzas also on sale this month. And you will see some good bargains in the pet food aisles, particularly dog food (dry and canned).</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Halloween, Columbus Day, Yom Kippur</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cranberries, apples, pomegranates, and grapes.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>The stores are still trying to dump the last of the summer items. Look for fans, more camping equipment, and outdoor furniture.</p> <h2>November</h2> <p>Well, it&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealista-tip-how-to-get-the-best-deals-on-black-friday">Black Friday</a> month. That means everything in the entire store is on sale at some point. But barring that, there are scheduled deals in specific departments. Thanksgiving runs the show, with bargains to be found on turkeys, stuffing, soups, canned yams and vegetables, canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, marshmallows, gravy mixes, pie crusts, flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, cake mixes, frosting, evaporated/condensed milk, chocolate chips, broths, Jell-O and pudding, hot cocoa, and coffee and tea.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Thanksgiving, Black Friday</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, cranberries, oranges, pears, and pomegranates.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>Halloween is expensive, but it doesn&rsquo;t have to be. Stock up on the supplies now, with everything Halloween-related going on sale for the first few weeks of November. It&rsquo;s not uncommon to see 90% off costumes and decorations in the week following Halloween; the stores want the shelf space for Christmas.</p> <h2>December</h2> <p>&lsquo;Tis the season to spend all of your money, but there are bargains to be had. Eggnog deals start the month off right, as well as instant potatoes, gravy mixes, champagne, disposable containers, foil and cling wrap, party platters, and all the other great baking and party foods that went on sale for Thanksgiving.</p> <h4>Major Events</h4> <p>Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa</p> <h4>Seasonal Produce on Sale</h4> <p>Sweet potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, pears, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, papayas, and pomegranates.</p> <h4>Clearance Items</h4> <p>After Thanksgiving, the shelves are filled with clearance products around the theme. All sorts of fall merchandise, frozen turkeys, stuffing, festive doormats, and outdoor decorations are available for slashed prices. And Christmas, well, that goes without saying. Now is the time to stock up on all the decorations and gift wrap that you need for next year, as well as gifts including children&rsquo;s toys, non-perishable gift boxes, and other seasonal treats.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-store-sales-cycle-your-monthly-guide-to-clearance-prices">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-to-wait-until-after-christmas-to-buy">8 Things to Wait Until After Christmas to Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hurray-annual-freebie-calendar">Hurray! Annual Freebie Calendar</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-backdoor-to-amazons-70-off-deals">The Backdoor to Amazon&#039;s 70% off deals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-everybody-saves-during-back-to-school">8 Ways Everybody Saves During Back-to-School</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-perimeter-perusing-at-target">Tips for Perimeter Perusing at Target</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping after holiday sales calendar clearance grocery savings Thu, 02 Jun 2011 10:00:11 +0000 Paul Michael 559727 at http://www.wisebread.com