When I just began my path of trying to shop more frugally and save some money, I was often told: "Never pay full price for your food! Look for sales!"
I can't say that was bad advice; I did get some great deals when I looked for bargains. However, I also had to figure out a few "safety rules" that serve me when I go to the supermarket and see huge "SALE!" signs everywhere:
1) "Sale" doesn't mean it's the best deal you can get.
Wow, I told myself at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, just look at this, I can get two bottles of detergent for the price of one! Excellent! But then I realized that even with the discount, the price is twice as much as a plain, cheap detergent I spotted on the lowest shelf. I took the cheaper detergent and it does the job just fine.
2) "Sale" doesn't mean you need it.
Another time, I was tempted to buy three packages of granola bars because they were on sale. But normally we don't eat granola bars at all! Buying something you don't really need and would never buy otherwise isn't such a great deal. Even if you didn't spend much on it, it's still unnecessary spending.
3) "Sale" doesn't mean you have to get a lot of it.
Buying in bulk is alright for items that can be stored for a long time, like canned food or toiletries. But I still remember the six packages of cream cheese Mom bought once; we ended up throwing half of it away. Not such a great bargain, huh?
To sum it up, before buying something on sale, I ask myself the following questions:
- Is it really a good deal, or is it expensive even with the reduced price?
- Is it an item I would need anyway?
- For how long can it be stored? Will I have time to use it up?