Often in real estate we often come across clients with a similar objective; saving money! Really, who doesn’t want to save money? Your monthly budget is made up primarily of your rent or mortgage costs, maybe a car payment, utilities, groceries, the “other” category like insurance and gas, and a little left over for savings and fun. With constant increasing prices, it’s no wonder the savings category regularly falls short, mine included. Constantly frustrated with my dwindling savings account, I went on a hunt to cut a few of those precious dollars out of my expenses, and add it to my savings. With a little research and a lot of advice, I found a way to cut those bucks out of my grocery bill and land them back in my wallet where they belong!
It started with redefining dinner. This was the hardest for me. Growing up, dinner was always your meat or main course, a starchy side and a vegetable. Instead, I was told to simplify it. Having a ‘feast’ like this is great one or two days per week, but it’s not really necessary. BLTs, omelets and salad are just as complete. Ensuring I had all that food for every dinner for three people was really costing a fortune. And to be honest, they really didn’t notice the switch; they were just as full and still had a nutritional meal.
Meat causes one of the hardest hits on your pocket at the grocery store. Go meatless. Cutting meat out of one or two dinners per week has saved me over $70 per month. There are plenty of vegetarian recipes that will keep the whole family full and satisfied.
Try different grocery stores. Even in the Williamsport area, I can think of at least three major grocery stores within a few minutes of each other. Ask your friends and neighbors where they shop and why. A lot of times, people fall into the habit of frequenting a place because it’s familiar, not because it’s better. Many people I’ve spoken with have saved mega bucks visiting more than one store to get groceries. This might not be budget friendly if you’re only saving a couple bucks, but if you can find many of the items you would normally buy at another grocery store down the road at a discounted price; it may be worth your while to check out those deals as well.
Learn to love a list. Make a list of what meals you’d like to prepare until your next shopping trip and what ingredients you’ll need to purchase for those meals. Use your list as a shopping guide while you are at the grocery store and stick to it as best you can. I am just as guilty of the shopping trips to pick up one or two items, and walking out of the store with a basket full, or even a cart full of extras.
Purchase your groceries with cash. Limit your shopping trip to a target dollar amount, and only take that much cash. You will be more likely to stick to necessities and less likely to stray to impulse buys.
When you find a frequently purchased item at the grocery store at its rock bottom price, purchase it in bulk and create a stock pile. Easily freezable and nonperishable items can be tucked away for you to use until that item goes on sale again.
Make shopping trips less often. The more time spent inside the grocery store, the more likely we are to impulse buy and spend more money than is needed. If you are like me, I tend to go to the grocery store two to three times per week. Try to limit yourself first to once per week. Slowly dwindle yourself down to once every two weeks or once per month. Once you have built up a sufficient stockpile, instead of shopping at the grocery store weekly, you can shop in your own supply.
Shop the perimeter of the store. Most grocery stores are laid out similarly. Produce, dairy and meat departments can be found on the outside of the store, while the packaged foods, canned goods, and bakery items are located within the center isles. Shopping the outside not only controls the budget, but also helps your family stick to a balanced diet.
Additional tips include:
-Buy generic. In a 2014 study, chefs were more likely to reach for a generic option than a name brand option.
-Take a calculator with you to the grocery store. Tally your purchases as you shop.
-Shop the ads and use coupons. For mega savings, use your coupons when items are already on sale. Don’t make extra purchases just because you have coupons, however.
-Grow a small garden. If you don’t have the room, many areas have community gardens, where you can reserve a place to grow your own plants and vegetables for free.
-Save receipts from grocery store trips to collect data on your buying patterns.
While saving $10 or $20 a week may not seem like much, it could mean a whole world of difference to some. A $10 savings in your grocery bill per week adds up to $520 at the end of the year you could be putting in your savings account, or spending on a treat for you! A few tricks can save big money, without having to sacrifice good quality meals.