Frugal Shopping

  • Food shopping is one of the big three FAT expenses
  • EU regulation helps us compare pricing when shopping
  • Look for per kilo or per item pricing when comparing prices
  • How to reduce the cost of fire kindling
  • Buy nonperishable goods at wholesale

As food is one of the big three expenses; see my other blog topics about FAT expenses, it should be one of those expenses that we consider lowering in order to decrease out-goings. When food shopping, I try to pay attention to how much I am spending on specific items and the quality of those items. If I can find a good quality item at a cheaper price at another shop nearby then they get my business. However, I won’t go all over town just to save a euro on bread but I have been known to do my shopping in three different shops that are somewhat close to each other.

What has the EU ever done for us? Well they did bring in the European Communities Regulations in 2002; S.I. No. 639/2002 – European Communities (Requirements to indicate product prices) Regulation 2002. Which makes it a lot easier for us consumers to compare prices of goods sold. Retailers must display the price of products in euro and more importantly, for products sold by weight or volume they must display the price per weight or volume. For example, when a retailer sells chicken the price must be clearly marked on it in euro and it needs to display how much it is per kilo. This helps us, as consumers, to easily compare the price of organic chicken with non-organic chicken or the price of chicken from Tom’s Farm to the one from Mary’s farm. One may cost €10 and other costs €8 but that doesn’t really tell you too much until you see the cost per kg.    

How do you determine if you are getting a bargain?

If you are buying perishable items, let’s say, ham for instance then you need to look at the price per kilo. There is a large selection of different packaged ham at my local. I see most people will pick up the one that advertises “3 for 2” or “10% extra” or some other marketing gimmick. However, products like this must have the price per kilo displayed; you will find it normally on the price display in small text at the bottom-right. This will tell you how much you are actually paying for the ham. At my local, the price ranges from €11 per kilo to €27 per kilo. Of course, you want to buy the one that is the cheapest but is also high quality. I find that around €15 per kilo seems to give us the most beneficial ham at the best price.

Of course this doesn’t just apply to ham, it applies to any product that is sold by weight; whether it is chicken, steak, or cheese. Keep an eye for the price per kilo the next time your go shopping.

If you have an open fireplace and you buy kindling then read on for a quick saving idea. I was amazed at how much kindling costs; €3.50 for a small mesh bag. I bought an axe from a hardware shop and a bag of logs. The axe cost me €14.99 and I paid €5.00 for the bag of logs. I started chopping up the logs into kindling and I was amazed at how much kindling I got from it. I filled two 40kg coal bags with kindling from that small bag of wood logs. Each 40kg bag had about 10 small bags of kindling, that was a total of 20 bags of kindling or €70.00 at retail. Total saved: €50.00 and I still have the axe for future cutting.

I’ve seen this classic in a well-known store in Ireland; I was checking out the price of beer, they were selling six cans for €8.00 or €1.33 per can. They also had a special offer of 24 cans of the same beer for €33.00 or €1.37 per can. Guess which ones I bought!

Comparison Shopping

If you have services such as television, internet, car insurance, home insurance, or travel insurance, it is wise to shop around when they come up for renewal. These companies will make it easy for you to just renew with them each year, it is your job to get the best rate and shop around.

I travel to mainland Europe three to four times per year. I always keep travel insurance as I would rather pay a yearly fee than get hit with a large bill if something goes wrong while I am travelling. I use ucompare to quickly find the best offers. I was able to find an insurance policy that also includes car excess. Which was an extra bonus as I don’t have to buy car excess insurance as well.

Ucompare Travel Insurance

To compare flights, I use Skyscanner, it’s a great resources for finding the cheapest flights from any airline.

Buying Wholesale

I do have an account with a food wholesaler, which I believe is well worth a trip once a month if you have a large family. Buying wholesale makes a lot of sense for non-perishable items such as toothpaste, toilet roll, tins of food, cleaning products. You can save a lot of money on purchasing these items in bulk, as you will eventually consume them all. If you think that, you can consume the perishable items, such as meat or vegetables, within the ‘eat by’ date, then yes, absolutely buy those as well. 

If you are buying bulk products then you need to get your calculator out. Every mobile phone comes with a calculator now so there are no excuses. Let’s say you are looking at cans of peas, they are the exact same brand as the ones that you always buy. Individually you pay €1.12 at the local shop. Wholesaler is selling them in a batch of 12 for €11.99, which is less than €1.00 per can. You are saving €0.12 each, I know it doesn’t seem like much but when you buy your monthly shopping it will add up.

You can get an account with a food wholesaler if you have a VAT number, a registered business in catering, hospitality, tourist, service, distribution or trading sector. You will need an invoice from a supplier and photo ID.

Now that you are saving money on shopping, calculate how much you saved and add that to your emergency fund or your investment fund.

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