Spending less on groceries is a major concern for our family. When my husband and I first started to get serious about paying off debt, we were forced to start tracking our spending in every category. We realized that food was one of those items that made up a major part of our monthly spending. These are a few of the tricks that helped me to bring our weekly grocery bill from $125 each week to $60 each week.
Do Some Research and Clip Some Coupons
An important part of spending less on groceries is getting the best price for each item on your list. It is helpful to know which stores are offering the best prices. I often use the internet to look at the weekly circulars for a few stores near me. Newspapers have also been a great resource for coupons and finding sales. I will do this research before even making my menu because it helps me to match what we eat to the best deals
Sometimes shopping at different stores can help you to spend less on the grocery bill. However, it is important to consider how shopping at different stores will affect your bottom line. You will also have to consider gas and time. If you save 10 cents by shopping at a store that is 20 miles away, clearly it is not worth it because you spend more on gas. Additionally, the extra time that you spend is worth something as well. An hour of your time spent going to another store is not worth saving 10 cents. You will have to decide for yourself how much your time is worth. Getting the lowest grocery bill is great as long as your savings are not causing more spending in other parts of your budget.
Coupons can also affect the grocery bill. I remember that the first time I really started “couponing,” I cut out about 40 coupons to bring with me to the store. When I got there, I realized that I didn’t really need or want about 20 of the things that I had coupons for. I also realized that about 15 of the coupons that I brought with me still did not make the items cheaper than the store brand. So, I only saved money with 5 of the 40 coupons I cut out. Remember that coupons can save you money, but if you are not careful, they can also make you spend more money.
Write a Menu and Shopping List
To pay less for groceries you should know what you are going to buy before you go into the store. Having a nice check list will help you to walk past the items that the store wants you to buy as you head towards the things you need. Having already done some research on sales, you should know where the real savings are.
Additionally, the menu will help you to plan exactly how much your family needs for the week. How often do we buy things that we don’t even need or use, only to throw those things away later?
Bring Cash and Track Your Spending
It can be difficult to keep the grocery bill low when paying with a credit or debit card. In an article from the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, which can be found at Science Direct, researchers looked at how people used cash instead of other forms of payments, such as credit cards, debit cards, or gift certificates. The study found that people were much less likely to part with the cash than with any other form of payment.
To force myself to hit the grocery bill target, I often go out to the store with only cash and leave my debit/credit cards at home. Then, when I put each item on my list in the cart, I write the cost next to the items. Every once in a while, I add up all the prices to find out how much I have left to spend. If I go over budget, I am forced to look again at my list and decide which items I have to put back. Because I only have the cash that is on me, I am unable to go over budget.
You Get Paid For Your Planning Time
Each of the money-saving tips that I have given you in this article takes time to do. It seems easier to simply go to the store and get the groceries. However, you will lose money doing that. I generally spend about 30 minutes planning for each shopping trip and save $65. Doing the math, that’s a pretty good hourly rate.
Source: Priya Raghubir and Joydeep Srivastava, “Monopoly Money: The Effect of Payment Coupling and Form on Spending Behavior,” Science Direct.