These are especially useful right now.
Between rising inflation and even shrinkflation — which is when brands cut back on the size or quality of their products while increasing the price — people have been left with no choice but to think creatively when it comes to shopping to save a buck.
I asked the Community to share their money-saving hacks when shopping for anything from food to medicine to makeup. All I can say is that these responses gave me some hope to not panic the next time I go shopping. Here are some of them.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
“I go to different stores for different items. For instance, snacks at Trader Joe’s (obvi, everything is $2.99). Meat and produce wherever it’s on sale and I always get [store-brand] commodities like dish soap. I’ve also started using different cards for different purchases. Sometimes I get 5% cash back from one card and when that expires I’ll use another credit card that offers cash back.”
“I started waxing at home instead of getting it done at a salon. I use SugarDoh, which doesn’t have to be heated (less likely to hurt myself) and is only $17 for the (big) sample size. It even came with a sample applicator. $17 purchase for MANY waxes versus $50 or more for one wax!”
“Getting my groceries delivered after ordering online helps me to keep the cost low as I’m able to see how much I’m spending as I go. I often remove things from the list if I go over budget. Also, planning meals in advance helps me keep the costs down.”
“Mostly buying generic/store brand food and other items. For name brand must-haves, I search for sales and coupons. Recently, International Delight Iced coffee (my favorite) went up from $3.48 a carton to $7.20 at my local grocery store. Not paying that, so now I’m making my own. Store prices have gone up like crazy. I’ve started buying fresh eggs from a farm in my area. They are free range, last longer, and are way cheaper!”
“No more ordering out for lunch or dinner. I make a large, cheap dish like tuna casserole or pasta with chicken and sauce and pack each serving in Tupperware containers so I can grab it quickly in the morning. It lasts me all week and keeps me from being tempted to order lunch when I’m at work or get takeout for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking.”
“Get clothes that are new to you at thrift stores. A lot of stores will also take your clothing donations for store credit.”
“During the winter I started making Swiss Miss at home instead of getting hot chocolate from Starbucks all the time. Sometimes I’ll throw in some caramel syrup, whipped cream, and sea salt for a poor man’s version of their salted caramel hot chocolate.”
“My husband bought me an iced coffee maker — it was a huge savings as I was going to Starbucks every day. It tastes great and is super easy to use. As for coffee, I buy bulk whole coffee beans.”
“We built a greenhouse and grew a garden. We knew a recession was coming after watching the last couple of years. We have saved so much money in the long run. Building the greenhouse was relatively cheap and inexpensive as well.”
“We put a 5-gallon bucket in our shower to catch the water wasted by waiting for it to warm. We eat smaller meat portions and do creative cooking to use leftovers. We have always tried to waste very little. Our old clothing is repurposed into rags. We schedule our errands for a single day and try to take fuel-efficient routes to save gas.”
“It sounds obvious but meal planning has saved us a lot of money. Seeing what you already have in your freezer and cupboards and trying to make meals from that. Then with the ingredients you have to buy from the shop, try to make sure you use any leftovers you expect to get from that. Need to buy a whole pack of lettuce but only need half? Plan a salad the next day to use the rest of it up.”
“Use a Brita pitcher and buy one or two insulated water bottles to replace using single-use plastic water bottles. You save money and the planet.”
“I have started to make my own oat milk at home (needed to do it due to shortages recently and found out how easy it is). Super cheap option.”
“I use both paper coupons and electronic coupons for both Meijer & Kroger and buy items based on the weekly sales. I also use the monthly sales book from Costco. Sometimes I will wait until the end of the sales period for staple items that I always use. This way my washing powder is always bought on sale.”
“In Australia, we have Woolies (Woolworths) or Coles grocery apps. I check the catalogs and specials and place an order at each shop as normal week-to-week items can be cheaper at each store depending on the specials. Our local Coles has carpark pickup which is great. You just pull up and they pack it in the car for you! I also stopped in our local butcher and spent $200 on a meat pack. That has lasted me and my husband six weeks. I only had to buy bacon at the grocery store as our freezer was full.”
“I started shopping more at Trader Joe’s. It’s only my husband and I so name brands aren’t a big deal. Plus TJ’s has the best products — mini ice cream cones, enchilada sauce, chicken wings — for a really good price.
“I found a few dupes for my makeup products (ELF, Profusion, Milani) to replace my Urban Decay and Too Faced stuff. I’m mostly eating canned or frozen veggies. There’s also a blog called Budget Bytes that breaks down recipes by price per serving. I started to use my library a lot more. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance and it has a pretty large selection of books and media. Frequent shopper rewards programs. I always have rewards for free items after grocery shopping and coupons sent to my inbox, even at the thrift store.”
“NYX concealer instead of Nars is a near-perfect dupe for a fraction of the cost, and no shipping fees since I can buy it at any Target.”
“I was shocked when I found this out, but certain items (such as folders or notebooks for school) price differently for each color. I just bought a notebook for five dollars (red) because it was the cheapest one. The black one was $5.07, the yellow one was $5.49, the green one was $5.75 and so on (all having the same amount of sheets and same quality sheets). So, I’ve been buying things for their use rather than their aesthetic. Am I excited about using a bright red notebook to write notes? No. But did it save me money? Yes.”
“My son is obsessed with Pepperidge Farm’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread — he calls it ‘purple bread’ because of the packaging. Turns out Walmart’s Great Value brand Cinnamon Raisin Bread is cheaper by over a dollar per loaf and the packaging is still purple so he has no idea it isn’t the same.”
“Pay extra attention to the price per weight or unit or how many packs of fruit snacks come in the box to get more bang for your buck.”
“I stopped buying brand name ice cream and started buying the Target brand ice cream. It’s cheaper and it’s awesome. It’s just saving me a couple of bucks but it makes me feel better about giving myself a little treat.”
“Generic mucus relief pills at Walmart have the same active ingredient as Mucinex but are 88 cents instead of $12. Thank you, Walmart pharmacist for who gave me this tip.”
“I changed jobs in March. At my old job, I got fast food every day for lunch (between $7-14 daily). For my new job, I now bring lunch. I’m not only saving money, but my healthier lunches have enabled me to drop the weight I gained with my less healthy meal choices at my previous job.”
“I very rarely use toilet paper now. I bought a Lota which is a plastic vessel that looks like a watering can. It’s the Indian way to wipe your bum after a poo. It’s cheaper than toilet paper and your bum is so, so clean. She’s a clean queen now, honey.”
“Last week I went to get my usual name-brand OTC allergy medicine. It’s kind of expensive so, for the first time, I decided to look at the generic brand. I was shocked that it was 90% less! I was very skeptical but had to give it a try. Turns out it works great, maybe even better than the name brand. So cheaper doesn’t always mean inferior.”
“Switched from clothes shopping at Target to clothes shopping on Amazon. This has helped me be less impulsive since I keep everything in my cart for at least a day before buying it. I’ve also switched from store brands to generic of almost everything when grocery shopping. The last one I can think of is definitely privileged, but I used to get my lip care items from Ulta. Since inflation, I’ve bought one tub of Aquaphor. I’ve been sleeping on Aquaphor y’all, this tub has lasted me two months so far and there’s barely a dent in it.”
“I now just make extra coffee at home and fill a travel mug and cut out my daily Starbucks. That’s $6 a day or $30 per work week, Now I am going to save that money for my niece’s Cancun wedding next year.”
Do you have any money-saving tips when shopping? Share them with me in the comments below!