5 Ways to Save in a State of Emergency

The Philadelphia area was in full freak out mode over Hurricane Sandy by 9AM last Saturday morning. I was kind of freaking out too, but I tried to keep it a frugal freak-out as much as possible. The grocery stores in my neighborhood were completely cleaned out of everything, bottled water and peanut butter especially. So I decided to try Target, since shopkick was very generously offering 185 walk-in kicks that day.

It makes me sad to think about all the money people waste in anticipation of a storm. I live pretty far inland, and my area has never sustained serious hurricane damage, but that doesn’t stop people from spending hundreds of dollars on six months of survival supplies. Want to keep your savings on track? Here are three things to think about when you’re preparing to weather a storm:

  1. Don’t impulse buy, even if you’re in the path of destruction. When you’re stressed, it seems like a good idea to buy eight varieties of Oreos. (Yes, all the Oreos were completely cleaned out at the grocery store, too.) But, if you’re a couponer, you know what a big blow a move like this is to your frugal routine (and your diet). Make sure you stick to stocking up only on what you normally eat and don’t buy anything extra without a coupon. A really good coupon.
  2. Avoid the grocery stores when possible. They’re the first place panicked people go. You’re much more likely to find everyone’s nonperishable favorites at Target or Walgreens. Pay attention to your emails and stay tuned-in to social networking; companies will communicate with their shoppers about the status of their stores. Walgreens did an especially great job of this through Sandy.
  3. Mobile Coupon. SnipSnap makes it easy to save on the spot, even when you’re death-fighting with other shoppers for the last of the Duracell batteries. I SnipSnapped coupons to Target while I waited at red lights and my shopping speed wasn’t compromised at all. (Download SnipSnap here!) I also used Ibotta to earn money on groceries like Jiff peanut butter and Smucker’s jelly.
  4. Save Your Receipts. You want to make sure your bases are covered in case anything does go wrong. But that doesn’t mean you have to hold on to that 84-pack of Dasani or those fancy night vision head lamps if you don’t need them. If you don’t/won’t use your supplies, take them back!
  5. Stay calm. This one goes without saying. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself is maintain a clear head. Buy what you need for the worst case scenario, but keep your thoughts fixated on the best possible outcome.