Authors Note: Each year thousands of families lose their homes to disasters. For the last two years we have helped by donating handmade Christmas ornaments to some of those families. Last year we were able to serve 500 families who lost homes due to flooding in Kentucky and Tennessee after receiving more than 5000 ornaments from 19 different states. This year our goal is 10,000 ornaments from at least 30 states although we have been challenged to get all 50. Please join us by making ornaments with family and friends this “Christmas in July”. Visit our Facebook page: Operation Christmas Ornaments Near and Far for more information. Help survivors of the tornadoes in Kentucky and firestorm in Colorado understand they have not been forgotten.

With inflation out of control, food shortages, recession on the horizon, power outages predicted, and so much more, it is time to get serious about the way we spend our money and that begins with the way we shop. How do we shop more purposefully?

  1. Let’s begin with the all-time favorite, like those Sunday School answers, shop with a list. It is so easy to become distracted with items that just happen to be on a shelf next to the thing you are really in need of. At times like these, you don’t want to plan meals around recipes but rather around items on sale that week. Check the ads and plan meals accordingly and then stick to your list.

    This same principle applies when replacing food storage, please replace your food storage on a regular basis. Keep a working list on your phone or on a notepad in your purse. When you see those items on sale, purchase them.
  2. Buy items by comparing the unit price. The largest size package may be the cheapest but that is not always the case. How much is an item per ounce?  Store shelves will often post the unit price next to the price of the item. If a large size is cheaper but you don’t need or want that much, share. Find a friend who you can share all your savings tips with, and all your extras.
  3. Look up and down. The least expensive items in a grocery store will be on the top and bottom shelves.
  4. Purchase off brands. Store brands are normally packaged in the same factories as name brands. Purchase one of each brand and compare the taste and quality. If you do not like the taste or texture of the cheaper product, do not buy it. Foods you do not like will eventually be thrown away.
  5. Beware of travel. It is so tempting when you see a good deal to travel to purchase. Consider the cost of the travel. If you need to drive 15 miles how much will that cost in fuel? If you will save more than the cost of the fuel, make the trip. Otherwise, do not.

    The exception to this rule is if you are sharing travel expenses with a friend. If a store that has great prices is several miles away, share the cost of fuel and go load up.
  6. Shop alone or with a friend but never with the kids or even your spouse, unless your spouse is like minded and will not stray from your list or budget.
  7. Compare stores. By this we are not talking about traveling to several store to shop but rather knowing where bargains can be found and shopping those stores occasionally when restocking. Get online and compare prices.

    Consider discount grocery store, farmers markets, dollar stores, pharmacy stores, restaurant supply shops. 
  8. Know your prices. Having recently moved, I have been shocked at some of the prices at the grocery store. I am now in the process of learning the prices at the local market so I can understand when I should take advantage of a good deal. One of my neighbors shops on base at the commissary and invited me to tag along. I thought some of the prices were no big deal and others were good. After comparing prices at the grocery store, I now understand those good prices on base were actually great prices for the area in Texas where I now live. Be sure to compare prices online when shopping for large ticket items as well as everyday needs. BUT…

    Shop online or not? Prices online may seem to be a good deal and less expensive but when contemplating a purchase there are things you need to consider. Online is not always the best choice. It may be cheaper to pay a little more and hop in the car to purchase locally. However, if shopping locally, be sure to factor in delivery charges.
  9. Review brands you are considering. You may find what you consider a bargain either in a local store or online but are you comparing apples to apples? In other words, the same brand with the same feature. Have you researched the brand? Repair technicians will tell you some brands are easy to work on, some are not. Some brands will last 20 years, and some will break down much more quickly. Research not only price but compare brands. In some cases, paying more will save you far more in the years to come.

    Cheaper is not always better and not always worse. However, be sure reviews are by actual buyers. Some items are reviewed by family or friends. Some reviews are posted by those who complain about everything and they always find fault. Look at online reviews but also look to reputable agencies such as the Better Business Bureau or Consumer reports.
  10. Return policy. This is crucial for small items as well as large. I was recently at a national hardware/lumber store and the woman in front of me was attempting to return a purchase. The store policy was no returns without a receipt. How often do we come home and trash our receipts believing we will not need to return something we have purchased? The items may only be worth $10 but every $10 matters in an unstable economy. Imagine if the item was worth hundreds and could not be returned.
  11. Compare warrantees. When purchasing a large ticket item, you may not need to return it but you may need to repair or replace it. Compare warrantees. A lifetime warrantee may be amazing, or it may only cover one component and not the entire items.
  12. Get to know sales personnel. Recently a sales associate let us know of an amazing sale on the appliances we were in need of. We just needed to wait two days for the sale to begin.
  13. Choose a color. When remodeling or redecorating choose three colors to use throughout the house. White and black do not count. Sticking with a maximum of three colors enables you to shift pillows, blankets, furniture between rooms saving money while achieving a coordinated look.
  14. This same concept applies to clothing. Choose just three colors and you will be able to create dozens of outfits. Purchasing many colors creates a problem when trying to match a sweater to a shirt or dress. Add flare with jewelry, scarves or ties.
  15. Wait. Place items in your cart when shopping online and wait at least a day before completing the order, better yet wait a week. When shopping locally and you are tempted to purchase something you were not shopping for, leave, wait a few days and if you still want the item, return and make the purchase. Most of the time waiting will save you quite a bit of money as you forget about the item or realize you really don’t need it.
  16. Don’t shop. Best way to save money, just don’t shop. If you want to get together with friends, skip the lunch at a restaurant and have a potluck at home or bring a cooler of food and meet in a park. Plan now to make gifts from items you already have on hand or gift services like baby sitting or giving a hair cut or making cinnamon rolls for conference weekend.
  17. Pay in cash. When shopping, especially for gifts, we often get carried away. This budget buster is especially true when shopping online. Get some exercise and save by shopping locally and using cash. When the cash is gone, you are done. As you pull out your cash it will be a reminder to prioritize and evaluate each purchase.

Most experts now agree we have already dipped into a recession. Inflation is at it’s worst since the 1970s when interest rates rose to 16%! Buying power has been greatly reduced as pay raises have not kept up with inflation, and they cannot. Companies cannot afford to raise salaries to keep up with inflation. These raises would force many businesses to close.

You can help by shopping American made or for those outside of the United States, by shopping for items made in the country in which you reside, securing jobs. You can help your family by becoming a savvy shopper thus stretching your incoming and avoiding debt.

Worldwide inflation will not end anytime soon. Now is the time to work to protect what you have and secure a bright future as we work through this challenge.

We sure to check out the weekly food storage program, weekly money saving tips and light bulb moments at her blog at and the Totally Ready Facebook page.