I remember tagging along with my parents during their monthly grocery shopping trips when I was younger. It always puzzled me why they'd buy our supplies from two or three different stores. I also noticed that they would use one credit card at one store, a different card at another and pay cash at other stores (later, I'd find out that some credit cards have better promotional offers when you use them at certain stores).
I remember asking Mom about this and I'd get answers like "[Baby food brand] is cheaper at Parco while [laundry detergent brand] is cheaper at Ever Gotesco". Still, those answers didn't seem so sensible to me at the time because I thought that even if laundry detergent is cheaper at one place, surely the savings that we would get would not cover the gas that we'd burn getting to the other place, not to mention our time too.
Now that I have a home and a family of my own, my parents' way of buying groceries don't seem so odd anymore. When I was still single and living alone, paying an extra dollar or two didn't really seem that big a deal so I shopped where it was convenient or where it was fun (of course, I loved it when I'd get extra savings because of sales and coupons, right ?)
For the past few months, I've tried to keep track of the prices of our staple items in different stores. Unfortunately, I keep losing my list. Recently, Sammie found my old Sony Clie lying around and tried plugging it in. It still worked! Now seemed like a good time as any to get back to the electronic age (goodbye notebooks & post-its!). So I hunted up old receipts, old post-its, and price tag pictures that we've taken using our camera phones and started comparing. I was surprised by what I saw, here are a few samples:
Lactaid (lactose free milk) 64 oz - 4.49 at SR, 3.48 at FB
Broccoli - $1.50 / lb at SR, $0.98 per bunch at FB(each bunch is around 1.5 lbs)
Heavy Cream (1/2 pint) - 1.98 at SR, 1.28 at FB
The price difference, especially for the Lactaid milk, is astounding. One whole dollar ? This made me wonder how much we've overspent, given that we spend around $400-$500 on groceries each month.
This comparison just cemented my resolve to be a smart shopper. It wasn't a big deal for us to shop at different stores since they're all (including a Costco branch) within a 5 mile radius of our place.