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Everyone likes saving money, right?
Since groceries are typically one of the larger expenses each month (and we all have to eat!) if you can find a way to save money on them it’s even better.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your grocery money.
1. Only buy what you need.
This may seem obvious, but it’s really not. Go through your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer, and recipe book before you leave for the store. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need to make this week’s meals, plus any household goods you may need as well.
(Not sure what you’ll be having for this week’s meals? Check out this post on meal planning to make it super easy.)
Then, be sure you’ve had a snack before going to the store, because hunger pangs will make it much harder to only buy what you need. (If you’re like me, you’ll end up buying a bunch of junk instead.)
Leave the kids at home, along with anyone else that might be prone to throwing unnecessary items in the cart. If you must bring others, allow yourselves a maximum of one item each that’s not on the list as a treat, and set a dollar limit for those items as well.
2. Stock up and shop wholesale clubs.
This may seem like the antithesis of the first tip, but stocking up on items you KNOW you will use that are also non-perishable or freezable will save you money in the long run.
For example, if you can purchase 4-packs of toothpaste at a wholesale club for less than 4 tubes at a regular grocery store, it’s a bargain that you’ll make good use of. Of course, you won’t buy a 4-pack of toothpaste every month — only when you NEED it.
You can also buy large portions of meat either on sale and/or at wholesale clubs and freeze them. It only takes a few minutes to repackage them into smaller portions, but the cost savings are significant.
It’s critical to ONLY buy the stuff on your list though — otherwise wholesale clubs can eat up a lot of your money. It’s not a deal if you don’t need it or if it will go bad before you can use it up. (See this post on how to save at warehouse clubs like Costco for more info.)
3. Go meatless one night a week or more.
Even with buying your meat in bulk, meat is still one of the more expensive items on the grocery list. Eliminating it from the menu completely one or more nights a week will cost you less. There are lots of delicious meatless options out there. Going meatless is healthier for you too, so bonus.
4. Buy perishables more frequently, but ONLY buy the perishables.
Stopping in to buy JUST a bunch of bananas and some lunch meat when you’re out of those ensures that the food won’t go to waste by spoiling before you can eat it.
Wasted food is wasted money. Just be sure you’re not tempted to pick up “just a few more things” while you’re in the store. Be strong! It’ll get you in and out faster too.
5. Use coupons, shop sales, and use frequent-buyer’s cards.
Most stores have a card that allows you to receive a discount on all or many items in exchange for allowing them to track your purchases. (That’s what those cards are typically for.) Usually all you need to do is give your name, address, and phone number.
You can also use coupons in conjunction with the cards. Stores that offer double or triple coupons can save you even more money. If coupons really interest you, you may want to join a site that helps maximize coupon use. Remember, rich people use coupons all the time.
6. Shop the “awkward” areas of the store most, and buy generic or store brands.
What do I mean by the awkward areas? Well, the better priced items are normally anywhere but eye-level, making them a little more difficult to get to. Bending up or reaching down can mean a better deal for you.
And don’t overlook generics and store brands. Generics are frequently the same as higher-priced brands, and it’s been my experience that the store brands are often better than the name brands.
You’ll have nothing to lose by trying store brands either, since most stores will gladly refund your money and replace the item with a name-brand one if you don’t like theirs.
7. Check your receipt before you leave the store.
Finally, be sure that everything you buy was scanned at the correct price. It doesn’t take long to glance through your receipt to make sure the prices are accurate. Many stores will give you back double the difference if it wasn’t, making it well worth checking the receipt. Speaking of receipts, you may also want to use this receipt technique for even more savings.