American Pickers

The Power of Smalls

Yesterday I was on the phone with clients in Texas. They’re both professionals in their industry and they have two children in high school.

The focus of yesterday’s call was on how to save time and money at the grocery store. I asked them to tell me about their current routine. They have one excellent habit already in place which is to have a non-negotiable day to get to the grocery store. They then usually supplement that visit with at least one other trip during the week to pick up fresh produce.

As I offered a few suggestions such as to time their purchases with sales cycles and plan their meals around the weekly sales ad, they made a very honest comment. “We used to do all of those things, but as we got busier with work, decided it wasn’t worth it to pay attention to small savings.”

I told them that I understand when you’re making over $100,000 a year, it may not feel like it’s worth the time save $.30 on a can of corn or $1 on a loaf of bread. But if you look at that savings cumulatively, it adds up!

My family goes through three loaves of bread a week – Paul and Dante are sandwich guys. Their favorite bread goes on sale every 3 – 4 weeks. I only buy it when it’s on sale and purchase as much as the sale allows, freezing the excess. I typically save $1 on each loaf so that saves me $3 a week and $156 a year. That’s just for bread.

About 70% of the items I purchase for my family are on a sales cycle, meaning, they go on sale every 3 – 6 weeks. As much as possible, I follow the sales cycles and only purchase those items when they’re on sale, stocking up and then running through my inventory until it goes on sale again.

With this process, I save an average of 30% on groceries. My grocery budget is $125 a week, which means I save an average of $40 a week. Multiply that times 52 weeks and it adds up to $2,080 a year in savings. Instead of spending that money at the grocery store, I’m able to save that money for something much more fun, like travel!

One of my favorite shows is American Pickers which is about expert antique hunters who drive across America looking for “treasure” in people’s homes and backyards. Although they purchase a lot of really big ticket items, they say in almost every episode that, “Their bread and butter is in the smalls”. Meaning, that it’s the low priced items they buy and sell that keep them in business.

Whether it’s money coming in or money going out, paying attention to the “smalls” can mean big changes in your financial situation.

Photo: “American Pickers” cast – © History Channel