From February, 2015

Saving money at the store is easy–just say “know”

Winston Churchill once said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  While we’re pretty sure he wasn’t referring to your navigational strategy at the Piggly Wiggly, mapping out your grocery store visits can save you big money each shopping trip.

According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), 60% or more of what we buy at the supermarket isn’t even on our list!  So if you spend $100.00 at the store, about $60.00 is unplanned.  That’s crazy!  And it’s literally by design.

Every store is laid out a little bit differently, but overall, they’re basically the same.  Produce is always in front, milk is always in the back.  It’s long been said that milk’s placement in a store is to force shoppers past every other item on the way to the dairy case, but stores will contend that the cargo trucks unload in the back, making for an easy trip from trailer to case.  We’re pretty sure it’s probably a combination of both, but are also certain that stores don’t lose sleep over where they place their milk.

Produce is often right up front, its bright colors and fragrant fruits drawing you into the store.  The bakery and deli are often right up front, too.  This is because the sights and smells of both make shoppers hungry, which leads them to buy more food.  And don’t be fooled by the temptations of aisle end-caps—just because items are prominently displayed here doesn’t mean they’re on sale!

There are many other tricks stores play to get shoppers to spend more money because, after all, they’re in the business to make money.  An example is the fact that it takes 20 minutes to prepare a prescription.

So how can you arm yourself against this injustice?  How can you level the playing field?  Three simple words:  Know your store.  And make a shopping list that corresponds to that store.  And, most importantly, stick to your list!  (Okay, that’s twenty words, but you get the idea.)

Think about what you need each week—it’s all pretty much the same stuff, right?  Milk, cheese, eggs, etc.  Sure, you deviate from the script occasionally (or a lot, according to the FMI), but for the most part, it’s the same items week in and week out.  And as we’ve already demonstrated, most items you buy will be in the same general vicinity week after week.

This is good for you, gentle shoppers, because it allows you to plan out your list to minimize browsing.  Grocery store browsing is a budget killer!  The more time you spend in the store, the more money you spend.  Why do you think stores now have banks, Starbucks, pharmacies, nail salons, etc. right in the store?  To keep you there longer!

You can avoid falling victim to this game by proper planning.  With FitFin, you can create such lists for EVERY store you shop at regularly.  Again, each store is just a little different.  You may find your Cap’n Crunch in the same aisle as your coffee in one store, and in the bread aisle at another.  This minor change could create unintentional browsing, again costing you money.  If you set up your lists specifically for each store and activate only the items you need for that visit, you can get in and out of the store much more quickly, and with more money in your pocket.  FitFin has thousands of pre-loaded items that you can use to build your list, or you can use your own items.  Or a combo of both.

I was shocked by the 60% statistic, and am proud to say that I’m pretty good at sticking to the list.  FitFin is a great way to become more organized and disciplined, helping you save money.

For more information on how to build shopping lists in FitFin, check out this video (http://goo.gl/qR1j42) or contact us at support@fitfin.com.

Happy planning!

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Five inexpensive Valentine’s Day gifts that make you look romantic (and not cheap)

In an age where everything costs an arm and a leg, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to decide on the perfect gift for that someone special.  Even dinner at a moderately-priced restaurant can cost $100.00 or more, and throw in a movie on top of that and you might as well buy a golden ring!  With that in mind, here are a few inexpensive romantic gestures that are a perfect gift on their own, or a nice supplemental surprise to whatever else you have planned:

1. Take a walk ___________.  Replace the blank with “on a beach,” “in the park,” “at the museum,” etc.  Walking is not only great exercise, but it’s a great chance to talk, with few distractions.  And if you do plan to go to dinner, it’s a great way to justify dessert!

2. Make a video montage.  There are now dozens of free video creation apps out there, where you can take the pictures off your camera and put them to your favorite song.  This is a great way to make a lasting memory that your loved one will cherish forever (and it’s more personal than a card).

3. Write a poem.  Is this cheesy?  Maybe.  Will that special someone love it?  Probably, especially if it’s coming from the heart.  And if you’re musically inclined, write a song!  If you’re uncomfortable with doing this, you can make it funny and sprinkle it with inside jokes.  There are also plenty of rhyming dictionary websites out there to help.  Here is a sample that I made up on the spot:

My love for you is undying,
Please don’t laugh, because I’m really trying,
You mean the world to me,
We better go now, the movie starts at three

I’ll give you a minute to wipe the tears away.  Anyway, you get the idea.

4. Rent their favorite movie and stay in.  Pop up some popcorn, put on a fire, Barry White, all that romantic stuff and just relax for a few hours.  Much cheaper than going out and a lot less stressful!

5. Make dinner.  There’s nothing sexier than a delicious meal you make yourself.  What’s their favorite meal?  Do a simple Google search for recipes and see what you think you can pull off.  Even if you don’t cook well, if you really concentrate this ONE TIME and use the right ingredients, you just might surprise yourself!  Don’t be afraid—give it a try!  And if it stinks, they’ll still appreciate the effort.

There are literally dozens of things you can do to make the day special.  The most important thing is to make it about each other.  Enjoy!