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August 26, 2009


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My wife and I limited ourselves to one trip per week when we were trying to save every dime to pay off our mortgate. It did definitely help save some money, but how much is obviously debatable. In our case, part of the savings was because one local grocery chain runs a promotion roughly every other Thursday, offering $10 off a $50 purchase. That was $260 in savings right there.

It really depends on how disciplined you are in the store though. Readers of this site are less likely to be the type who load up on lots of impulse purchases, and for that type of shopper, the savings will be less.

But there's one other place this will save money. Only going once a week is going to force you to occasionally look in the pantry and use things that are there, rather than running to the store to buy something new to fix for dinner.

We are currently trying this, to see if it would save us money. I don't think that it does directly, but it does make us plan meals ahead of time. I think it's actually the planning that's saving us the money. We know which dishes result in lots of leftovers, and when we'll have leftover ingredients. We end up throwing away less than we used to.

Oddly enough, I think it has also reduced our trash output, which means we might be able to downsize our trash can (and save a few $/month).

We go to the grocery store 1-2 times a week. We have one regular weekly trip to get the items we need and often a 2nd trip to pick up extra stuff.

Their conclusion that you will save $1500 a year by cutting back trips seems far fetched to me. Seriously, how much of grocery shopping is really impulse buying? I don't find myself deciding on a whim that I should buy 2 dozen more eggs or an extra head of lettuce.

I do it to save time, not money. I have a grocery store literally a 5 minute walk from my home, but I still hate wasting time going into the place, going to the aisles to get the stuff in my list, waiting in line. So I try to compile a list every week or every two weeks of what I need, and make one trip over the weekend.

I think the 2 hours of commute + 10 hours of work each day might be my motivator for that, though.

I don't buy most of the tips on saving money by doing simple things without a plan. Take less trips, use cash not plastic, etc. These are all just facile and they don't work unless you are a person who is entirely irrational in your purchases. Yes some people are and for them maybe. And yes all of us do some irrational purchasing. But most people who care about finances are mostly rational. Little small brain tricks are not going to have any significant effects.

And in addition, I have no desire to try to squeeze every $5 savings here and there to live my life worrying about every purchase. These 1500 dollar numbers sound huge but people's purchases on these types of things are mostly steady. You decide the type and quality of food you intend to eat and you spend X on it. Unless you change to a different type or different quality or drasticly change how you buy (bulk, major coupon cutter, etc) you are going to spend very close to X on that food no matter what you do (In fact food price changes will probably dwarf anything else you do). Simple "tricks" like taking less trips are not going to have any significant savings.

And in the end you won't save 1500, you will save 80 bucks here and 40 bucks there ..... maybe. And it won't change your life one bit over the course of 80 years given that you need millions to retire. Saving a few hundred each year on this, that and the other won't get you to retirement even 1 month quicker so why waste any time worrying about it.

It's the big things that matter. You have to either save decent money on big ticket items or you have to take drastic actions to save significant money on all the small things. Barring that, you really aren't changing anything.

Before my husband lost his job, and we had a ridiculous amount of money that didn't have a Job To Do, we stopped at the store 3 or 4 times a week and spent $300 a week on average.

Once we started paying attention to our spending, and I began serious couponing, we cut our shopping trips to once a week, and only with a shopping list and coupons. We currently spend about $120 per week (for a household of 5 plus quite a bit of entertaining) on grocery and household items.

So, yes. Purposely limiting our trips to the grocery and super center type stores easily saved our family more than $9000 in a year - and this does not include the limitation of eating out.

One thing that has really helped on our food budget, has been getting food delivered from a local from. We get a box of veggies once a week and a box of fruit every other week.

The only other shopping we do is at Costco for things like bread, pasta, eggs, fish, etc...Therefore, we're going to the store at a minimum once every other week.

Overall it costs us about $800 for 12 weeks (12 veggies and 6 fruit deliveries) or $67 a week, plus $50 every other week at Costco. Not bad for eating mostly organic and local.

Apex - I don't think anyone was proposing this would be a life-changing experience. I do admit the most annoying thing about all these kind of tips is the normal exaggeration of savings experienced but, using your own numbers, you would save $40 here and $80 there for something that requires no effort. Do you throw away gift cards given to you because they have no value to you because there will never be enough of them to move up your retirement?

Yes - this is definitely true, I find. Planning what meals you'll eat during the week helps me a lot so I don't have to go to the store too often. When I do go to the store 3x a week I do buy things I wouldn't normally, and often cut corners and buy more packaged food (pricier) because I haven't written down the ingredients I need for recipes I can make from scratch.

I also think of the opportunity cost of time saved. Being stuck in traffic, or even walking to the store takes away from time that could be better spent doing something else.


No I don't throw away gift cards but I do greatly hate them as they are a hassle and a downgrading of purchasing power and if its too big a hassle to use one and it's at a place I don't often shop, then yes, it might go unused. I am not going to go through a hassle to use something for 25 bucks.

I am also not going to change my shopping patterns to save 80 bucks. My brother and I have had this discussion many times. He shops just for his milk at a gas station because he can get this bagged milk there about 50 cents cheaper than at the grocery store. So then I have to have these bags of milk that need a special container, don't sit in the fridge as nicely and I have to go to a different place to get them all to save 50 cents a gallon, so what this saves me 50 bucks a year maybe? I say no way. He says yeah, what are you made of money. I say no, but it won't change and dang thing in my life. Meanwhile I did my own landscaping at the cost of maybe $1000 dollars. He hired a company to lay down a patio paver patio, put down edging and rock and put in a bunch of plants. Cost him 11 grand. But hey, he is saving 50 bucks a year on milk in funky bags at a special convenience store. I have told him his whole approach to pinching pennies and spending dollars is messed up, but he says he is not interested in doing the landscaping himself but he feels good about saving 50 bucks a year on milk (and I am sure other things too). One job that cost me 1 month of my summer saved more than he will save in his whole life with all his little "tricks". Thats the kind of game that I have no interest in playing and it makes no impact on your life. What is the point of taking actions that save money at the margins that result in some kind of extra hassle to you but at the end of your life have made no difference in anything that you were able to financially accomplish? Its 80 years of pinching pennies to end up with no change in lifestyle at all. 80 years of hassle, 80 years of taking extra steps, or forgoing some convenience just because it saves you 50 bucks a year. No Thank you!

I am not going to say gee I am out of eggs, I should make a quick trip to the store to get eggs, but wait, I was there 2 days ago, I might also buy something else I didn't intend to and thus spend extra money. No, forget that, I am going to get the eggs and if I buy an extra bag of chips while I am there, great, I apparently wanted to eat some chips and I am happy to spend the 3 bucks and eat some chips.

My point was that I am not interested in being a spending nazi. I am a frugal person, I don't waste money, but my goal with finances is not to structure my whole life around every tip that could save me 40 bucks. That makes my life inconvenient and sometimes unenjoyable (I like chips and want to eat them sometimes) and I am not interested in savings of 40 bucks purchased at the price of inconvenience.

As to the comments above by Momma, notice she saved $9000 dollars and she attributes it to less trips but that is not why she saved. She says she used coupons and a shopping list. That is an active decision to shop differently and more conscientiously. These passive ideas like just shop less times aren't going to have big impacts. I admit they can have some impact but the real change needs to be active to have an impact. Passive changes are not going to produce noticeable savings.

And as to the point made by Strick about no one was proposing a life changing experience. Well 1500 dollars is quite a bit but even so, if its not something that is going to change anything about my life then why the heck am I restructure my life around a tip that gets me no change in life experience? See thats my point, it changes nothing about the experience of my life so why bother.


You are another example of why this advice is wrong. By your own admission you plan what meals you are going to eat with a list of ingredients you need to and that allows you to go less and buy less pre-packaged food.

However if you did not plan your meals, did not write down your ingredients and just went to the store once per week instead of 3 times you would just buy three times more pre-packaged food because you took no active steps to change what you were purchasing.

Passive easy tips to save money do not save any significant money.

Passive easy tips to save money such as this help since in most cases, it will force you to plan for your shopping list. The "once-a-week" shopping in itself is not helpful, but you know that when you go, you have to plan for the week. Of course there is the other side of overestimating and ended up buying too much stuff that you may end up throwing away.

Also regarding Momma's comments, shopping once a week helps in a way that she can plan better. For someone that may get Sunday newspaper where you get all the coupons, you can plan your meals according to what you get cheaper for that week. I know the potential debate that using coupons may cause people to spend on things that they don't need just because they are getting a discount, but that is a different discussion.

In the article itself, I don't think it make the case for shop once a week as the reason for reducing your spending in itself, rather it is for its potential to reduce impulse shopping. For me, the main takeaway is to think of ideas to reduce impulse buying.

I don't buy it - definitely not that much savings (although it would be easier on time and gas).

If you shop less you will have to plan more. Planning more does save money, but you can plan no matter how many trips you take - I think it is the planning that saves the bulk of the money.

I shop sales and coupons and can feed my family of 3 on $200 a month easily. I've taught other people how to do it. I shop whenever I feel like it - sometimes every other week, sometimes 3 times in one week. I would not save $143 a month by limiting how often I grocery shop :)

@Apex Actually, cutting the trips itself saves money for our family. Every single time my husband goes to the store to pick up the 1 thing we ran out of, or need for a specific thing, he comes back with $20 to $40 worth in stuff we didn't need. Wine, flowers, something he assumed we needed but were out of, dessert, or any of the other bazillion impulse items that stores love for people to grab on their way through.

Of course the planning and the couponing saves a LOT more than simply cutting the number of trips, but it's not the whole picture.

Time savings are also my reason for shopping only once a week (once a month if it weren't for the fresh fruits & veggies).

Shopping less often is a good way to save money and save time. I find that shopping off a list is a good idea so that you actually buy what you need and cut down on the impulse items you might pick up along the way!

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