How to Shop Like a Grandma

September 6, 2012

Your grandma may be a master at baking sugar cookies while your grandpa excels at complaining about politics, but there’s something else they’re likely great at: saving money. Grandparents Day is September 9 and in honor of our elders, we compiled some of the best advice our frugal family members have passed on over the years. They shop with necessities in mind and don’t seem as likely to fall for impulse buys. They know how to stick to a budget and they look for quality in a product. This age-old wisdom will definitely benefit anyone on a budget today and explains why we all should be shopping like a grandma.

Take a Calculatorcalculator

These days pretty much everyone carries a calculator at all times thanks to cell phones. But back in the day, Clarice Williams’ grandmother carried her trusty calculator along with her on every errand, a tip she passed on to her own daughter who taught Clarice the importance of this gadget. “My mom used to have me key in all of the items thrown into the basket,” she says. “Keeps the surprise at the checkout to a minimum and is the reason why I’m frugal to this day!” It’s so easy to pile items into our shopping carts without thinking about the consequence at the register, when it’s often too late. Tallying the total as you go will help you make smarter decisions along the way.

Don’t Be Easily Influenced

Back in the day your grandparents weren’t likely to be influenced by clever marketing or fancy packaging. Nope, they stuck to a list. and that’s exactly what Andre Ramirez tries to do. “My grandparents had a great strategy for saving money when it came to shopping. In order to stay within their budget, they always stuck to the list when going to the store,” says Andre. “This no-nonsense approach of ‘we are going to the store to get this, and we are coming back with only the items on the list’ approach has saved me from the wasted money of impulse buys and the cognitive dissonance that comes with it.”

Splurge in Small Waysgrandma shopping

Your grandparents may have grown up in a different time, but they were still people with varied interests and tastes. While they were used to keeping a tight rein on their finances, they also knew how to appreciate small indulgences. Lisa Hugh picked this up from her grandmother who made a practice of buying one new or unusual item every time she did a large grocery shopping trip. “Sticking with the same foods can be boring for the family, but buying too many unusual items can be costly, especially if they don’t get eaten,” she explains. “Buying something new can satisfy the psychological need for new experiences at a relatively low-cost.”

Read Ingredients and Sizes

Teri Gault, CEO and Founder of The Grocery Game Inc, says her grandmother not only lived through the Great Depression, but thrived through it, putting herself through business school and landing a great job. But that didn’t stop her from being a frugal shopper. Teri says she learned not to be swayed simply by a cheaper price tag. “I spend time reading ingredients on the cheaper item, to make sure I’m still getting value,” Teri explains. “I look at sizes. Skippy and Peter Pan peanut butter are only 16.3 ounces, while store brands, like Kroger, are still a full 18 ounces. That means something to me.” And once she gets food home, Teri is careful not to waste it, another lesson passed on by her beloved “Grandmommy.” “I’m a miser about freezing and storing food, and using leftovers,” she says. “Waste not, want not, my Grandmommy always said. Even though Grandmommy physically left me years ago, she’s alive and well, and helping me save money every day!” And now we’re passing on this frugal grandparent wisdom for you to use in your quest to save money.

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