There are plenty of places in which you can waste money, but don’t let one of those places be the grocery store. It is far too common for a budget to fail simply because a family is incapable of shopping smart at the grocery store. Between coupons, sales, brand choices and other money-saving options, you should be able to plan your family’s meals in such a way that falls within your budget. Here are tens tips for saving at the grocery store to get you started.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #1: Give Yourself a Weekly Budget
One of the main problems with grocery shopping is that it’s difficult to know just how much you can buy before you exceed your budget. This is further complicated if you allocate yourself a monthly allowance rather than a weekly limit. So divide your monthly grocery allowance by the number of weeks in the present month. When you go grocery shopping, focus on that weekly limit versus the monthly one. Be careful, however, about “borrowing” from next week’s allowance; you might find yourself with nothing to spend at the end of the month.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #2: Make a List
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Making a grocery list, however, can be difficult. I’ve always been a visual person, so I find it hard to think of the things I want to buy before I’m actually at the grocery store, looking at the shelves. One way to spark your imagination is to look at the foods as you clip grocery coupons (see Tip #4). Not only will you find ways to save, but you’ll also have a pre-made grocery list for the week.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #3: Leave the Children at Home
If you have kids, then you know how often children get a case of the “gimme’s” at the grocery store. If possible, leave them behind and do your grocery shopping by yourself. That way, you won’t have a grocery basket filled with Fruity Pebbles, Snickers and Lunchables. Instead, you’ll have a well-balanced selection based on your grocery budget.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #4: Use Coupons
I know how difficult it can seem to clip coupons every week, but it definitely will help you save. For example, sit down with your spouse one morning every week and go through the ads that have arrived throughout the last seven days. Clip the coupons that you will use, and come up with a simple filing system that will allow you to keep track. This will help you plan your meals for the month and will ensure that you stay within your budget.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #5: Store Brands
Every grocery store in which I shop (H.E.B., Kroger, Randall’s, Wal-Mart) has its own brand of products that closely resembles that of name brands. Use those store brands. For most foods (not all, unfortunately), the store brands taste the same as the name brands, and you’ll save an average of 10-20% on each of the products.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #6: Quantity vs. Price
One of the ways in which grocery shopping can become a racket is when you don’t compare the quantity to the price. For example, one brand of juice might cost $2.14 per bottle while the other costs $2.67. However, if you look on the label, the first brand might contain only 24 oz. while the second contains 32 oz. It isn’t necessary to bring your calculator to the grocery store, but use common sense when browsing the aisles.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #7: Don’t Shop Hungry
A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to the grocery store early because our daughter had a soccor game just before noon. We didn’t bother to eat breakfast before we left the house, and by the time we were finished shopping, we realized we’d spent more than $40.00 over what we usually spend on groceries each week. Why? We were starving. My advice is to eat a light snack before going to the grocery store. If you eat a full meal, you might wind up not buying anything because nothing looks good when you’re stuffed. However, don’t go on an empty stomach or you’ll end up buying everything in sight.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #8: Stick with the Cheapest Store
The price differences at grocery stores in Houston are staggering. I never shop at Randall’s anymore because you have to have a Randall’s card to get any of the savings, and I always forget to bring mine. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart very often, either, because their meats are so expensive. Find the store nearest your home that has the best prices on groceries and stick with it. Resist the urge to run right up the street to a more expensive store; it’s not worth the savings in gas money.
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #9: Avoid Long Check-Out Lines
I don’t say this because it’s a waste of time – even though it is – but because you’ll be tempted by the myriad of goodies they store near the check-out lines. Candy, gum, magazines, drinks, chips, batteries, gadgets and other products are there to tempt shoppers who are ready to leave the store. Don’t let them win!
Saving at the Grocery Store Tip #10: Stick to Groceries
Recent findings at bankrate.com suggest that purchasing non-grocery items at the grocery store is a big mistake. Although it might be convenient to get all of your shopping done at one time, you should realize that buying cleaners, pet food, OTC meds, paper towels, charcoal and other items will cost you much more at the grocery store than at a super-retailer like Wal-Mart.