Lately I have spent a lot of time brainstorming the ways that I have learned to save money, in order to share them with those who are joining me for the Savvy Spending Challenge (read all about my frugality challenge for the month of November and join my family and others as we try to spend as little as possible!)
One of my recent and wonderful discoveries has been that even in situations where I would not have thought of asking for a deal, it's always worth it to ask! My most fruitful experiences have come in the grocery store, as I try to buy our groceries as frugally as possible.
For years now I've been looking at any out of the way clearance racks, of damaged or over-ripe produce or day old bakery items. Once in a while I have seen a dairy product discounted due to a quickly approaching best before date. But although I have benefited from these items put out on display, I never realized that I had the power to make my own discounts happen when they were not being offered.
One of the easiest items to do this with is fresh produce that is slightly bruised or very ripe (such as bananas with spots on them, or berries that are starting to get too soft, bagged salad that is near expiry, etc. If you spot items like these, look for a manager or department staff person and politely ask them whether they are able to offer a discount for these items. I have frequently purchased ripe bananas or other items that they are happy to get rid of for a nominal amount.
Just last week, I found two containers of wonderful-looking organic strawberries, priced $2.49 each. As I looked them over, I noticed that both containers had one strawberry at the bottom with some mold on it. I immediately walked over to a nearby produce manager, showed him the mold, and asked whether he could give them to me at a discount. He marked them down to 1/2 price with an apology that the mold hadn't been noticed by his staff, and I happily purchased two containers for the price of one, took out the one moldy strawberry, washed them all thoroughly and was left with a heap of excellent, perfectly ripe organic strawberries for my family to enjoy! This is not an uncommon situation to find when buying berries, and it's also worth checking bags of citrus fruits (especially lemons and limes, but also oranges and grapefruits) very closely before you buy them. Just make sure that you remove and do not eat any fruit with even a hint of mold on it, and clean the packaging (or just use something else) before putting the rest of the fruit back.
Another area that I have just recently begun to experiment with is dairy. Because we prefer to only buy organic milk, and because my daughter drinks goat's milk (due to a cow's milk sensitivity, and just the fact that it can be preferable for toddlers to drink goat's rather than cow's milk due to the differences in digestibility), our milk costs are quite expensive. A month or two ago, I decided to just be bold and see if I could get my milk for cheaper, so I found the man in charge of the natural foods section of my local grocery store and asked what they do with the organic milk that is near expiry and do they ever sell it at a discount. He was a bit surprised, but responded that he would be happy to mark down any milk with a closely approaching expiry date. I got two 2L of organic 1% milk, for less than half the regular price. If you happen to find such a deal, but are worried that you won't be able to use all the milk in time, there are many ways to make good use of extra milk, including making homemade yogurt and kefir (see my recent post on making homemade yogurt).
So, go exercise your right as a consumer to ask for the best deal that you can get! Whether it's getting a discount at the grocery store, asking a phone or internet company to make their promotion a little sweeter for you (you'd be amazed how often this works for us!), or making any sort of larger purchase, you'll find that prices are not always as firm as you imagine them to be. And even if the answer is no, it never hurts to ask!
Make sure that you check out Frugal Fridays for more great frugality tips!