It’s the little things in life. This simple saying can be applied to many aspects of life – happiness, love, and success. It can also be applied to money. Every little bit adds up! When planning for retirement, most people understand the importance of having a 401K, a good portfolio, solid investments, etc. But many people overlook their daily or weekly spending habits, losing the chance to save money every day. Hacks, tips, and tricks that save a few dollars can help build your nest egg. It’s true that many people spend far too much money on groceries. So, here are 9 hacks that will help you tighten your belt, your budget, and save money every time you go shopping.
1) Divide and Conquer
The first and easiest step in saving money on groceries is to look at exactly what you are spending on those items only. Remember that “groceries” should be separated from every other food expense you currently have. Groceries don’t include meals out in restaurants, coffee and a muffin from the café, or happy hour drinks. All of these should be categorized differently – because they are different. Basically, don’t have a general “food” category in your budget. Really break it down so you can see where your money is going. Not only is this important in order to get a clear picture of your grocery budget, it’s also a way to see how much you’re spending on eating and drinking out. Once you’ve separated these two categories you’ll know just how much you’re spending and on what.
2) Don’t Waste
If you’ve got a pantry, chances are you’ve got it stocked with cans and dried goods. Every time you go grocery shopping you probably buy a few more items to replenish or add to what you’ve already got. Now, open your freezer. It’s probably a similar picture. Frozen soups, meats, and vegetables easily pile up when you know they’ll keep for a long time. The problem with both the pantry and the freezer is that most food kept there never gets eaten. There’s always the mentality to save it for another time. Plus, it’s easy to forget that food is even there! Now that you’re aware– start using this food! You’ll be surprised how many meals you’ve got stored away. This will certainly help with your current month’s grocery bill, and hopefully encourage you not to buy so many cans, dried goods, or frozen foods next time!
3) Make A List
Write down all the items you need before you hit the grocery store. This list will help keep you from straying once you enter the store, which is filled with temptation. Making the list is just half the battle, though. You have to stick to it. Don’t get sidetracked by sales signs. It’s so easy to buy something because “it’s a good deal.” Do you really need it? Ask yourself that question when you feel the urge to buy something that’s on sale. Avoid further temptation by not wandering aimlessly up and down every aisle. You may see something appealing you never would have bought otherwise. This is an impulse buy and what marketers depend on! Of course, there are exceptions. You may see something you didn’t realize you needed or forgot to add on your list. Don’t totally restrict yourself. Practice restraint!
4) Use Cash, Not Card
Who carries cash anymore? While it’s much easier and more convenient to swipe your credit or debit card, it also gives you the feeling of an unlimited budget. This is the feeling you want to avoid. Knowing you have a bunch of money on your card makes it easier to stray. Instead, draw up your budget and figure how much monthly grocery money you need. Divide that amount by the number of times you go to the store and separate the cash. You can even use envelopes to store each little bundle. Grab one of these envelopes every time you go to the grocery store. It may even be a good idea to leave any credit or debit card at home to make it easier to resist the temptation to overspend. When all you’ve got is the cash in your wallet, you’ll certainly become a much savvier shopper.
5) Don’t One-Stop-Shop
It’s easy to go to the grocery store and buy everything all in one shot. Usually grocery stores have much more than just food. They’ve got toiletries, makeup, cleaning products, household items, pet products, school supplies – pretty much everything you need. While it’s certainly makes things easy, you may pay the price (literally) for the convenience of having everything all in one place. Dollar Stores are great for many of these products, especially household items and school supplies. Other discount stores also offer many of the products listed above at well below the price of most grocery stores. Shopping around might be time-consuming, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. The money you save now will help you immensely in the future. What’s more important than saving for your retirement?
6) Use Apps
We know there’s an overwhelming amount of shopping apps out there. It’s difficult to know which one is beneficial and which one is a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, you typically don’t discover you’ve downloaded a spammy app until after you’ve spent the time to register and test it. It’s a waste of time and becomes discouraging. Fear not! Here are a few of the most reputable shopping apps out there: ShopSavvy is a goldmine when it comes to price comparisons between instore and online retailers including Best Buy, Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Just scan the barcode while you’re out shopping and see where the best deal on that item (or items like it) are hiding. We also like Flipp for weekly discount ads and coupons on big name brands like Tide, Pantene, Crest, and Bounty. You’ll receive weekly ads for specials from hundreds of retailers. Shopping made easy.
7) Use Discounted Gift Cards
No, this isn’t a scam. It’s perfectly legal to do and people have been taking advantage of this brilliant idea for a while. There are websites (like GiftCardGranny.com) selling hundreds of gift cards for anything imaginable at discounted prices. This is a great way to save money on groceries as well as clothing, travel, gas, and restaurants. This site has thought of every category when it comes to saving money! So, how do you save on groceries? Search the site by brand or category and you’ll find pages of gift cards that cost less than the actual value of the card. For example, Whole Foods offers gift cards that are 5% off the card value. Target offers cards that are 8% off. Omaha Steaks has cards for nearly 10% off the value. Safeway, Costco, Wal-Mart, Honey Baked Hams – even Nutrisystem – all have discounted gift cards on this site.