How to Save Money Tip Day 7: 34 Easy Tips for Shopping Smart in the Grocery Store

How to Save Money Tip Day 7: 34 Easy Tips for Shopping Smart in the Grocery Store

Food tends to be one area of our budget we can overspend so easily. How do we control our costs in the grocery store? The key is learning to shop smart.

The number 1 suggestion I can provide is to plan!

For example, have you ever bought lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with great intentions and than have to throw out most of it because it went bad before it was eaten. Plan out your meals in advance- what do you need to make these meals? What do you already have in your house?

Here is a list of my suggestions for shopping smart for groceries:

Plan in advance:

  • Plan out your meals (make a list of all ingredients you have already and what you need to buy)
  • Shop with a list- don’t put items in your cart that are not on your list
  • Look at the grocery flyers before hand (make a detailed list)
  • Look for coupons especially on toiletries and household products
  • Check out recipe books and searches online for new and interesting recipes to try

Leftovers:

  • Prepare double meals and freeze your leftovers (spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and chili are great examples of foods that freeze and reheat really well) *label and date the container before putting it in the freezer
  • Use leftovers in a creative way take leftover roast chicken and make chicken tacos or a chicken and rice casserole with it
  • Pack leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch
  • Label all leftovers
  • Try to use ingredients in more than 1 meal- if tomatoes are on special this week try to use them in a couple different meals

Grocery Shopping:

  • Do not shop on an empty stomach
  • Consider shopping at multiple stores -look at warehouses for certain items
  • Look at smaller stores (ethnic markets for example)
  • Take advantage of stores that allow you to price match
  • Stick to the outside edge of the market for healthier foods
  • Look for alternatives to pre-packaged foods- make your own macaroni and cheese to ensure the quality of the ingredients- you can also add in extra veggies by pureeing some butternut squash to add to the cheese sauce

Fruits and Vegetables: Try to Save Money Tips

  • Shop local- look at farmer’s markets for fresh produce
  • Prepare your fruits and vegetables when you get home- makes for quick meal preparations and snacks on the go
  • Look at alternative sources to fresh produce such as low sodium canned options or frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Check out the grocery sales for different types of vegetables on sale
  • Consider jarring or canning fruits and vegetables while in season
  • Grow your own vegetables or herbs

General Tips:

  • Shop with cash
  • Use a calculator to add up your costs
  • Consider your needs and wants- do you need that chocolate milk or do you want it?
  • Check out the top and bottom shelves for hidden bargains
  • Check unit prices not just the overall price to see which product is a better deal
  • Look at store brands not just name brand items- you are paying for the label/brand
  • Take advantage of store loyalty and reward cards- collect points
  • Stockpile foods that don’t expire quickly such as canned goods, dry beans, and pasta
  • Look for loss leaders in your store flyers
  • Find out when or if your store has a clearance section or discounts products such as meat or bread (freeze immediately)
  • Look at club size packs of meat and sub-divide into smaller portions at home
  • Look for discounted fruits and vegetables (I often find red peppers marked down that I then roast and freeze at home).

Financial Management Tip Day 6: The Blurry Line Between Needs vs. Wants

Financial Management Tip Day 6: Do you understand the difference between your needs and your wants?

We live in a world full of consumerism. We get into a mindset of want, want, want but we need to work towards shifting our priorities and thoughts. It takes time to make such shifts. And you will make mistakes- slip-ups from time to time. I think its important to look at small changes before going radical.

A need is something you have to have (essential)- you need it to live. There are really 5 categories of needs: a roof over your head, healthy food and water, basic medical and hygiene products,  reliable transportation, and basic clothing. Some people consider there means of making an income as being a need. Other people consider life and disability insurance as a means of providing for their family.

Everything else is a want. A want is something you would like to have (nice to have but not essential). You want brand-name clothing, you want designer shoes, a new car, a fancy house, the newest technology, etc. I want junk food or cable.

There is a blurry line between our needs and our wants- we need a reliable cell phone but do we need the latest technology in our cell phone? We need a reliable car but do we need a fancy car?

It definitely seems like these words are now the same in advertising. There is a popular tv ad right now that uses the words “I need that” when advertising a tablet and speakers. When did we become so greedy?

Am I suggesting getting rid of all your wants, no but I am suggesting you take a look at where the bulk of your money is going and making sure that your priority (you pay first) your needs and than you can add in an appropriate amount of wants based on what you can afford.

If you lost your job today, recognizing where your wants are and that there is room for cuts within your budget helps you realize what is truly necessary and important.

For example, a few months ago we took a pay cut so we started looking at our budget and what we could cut out- we lowered our cable, internet, and home phone bill (changed companies for a better rate and better service), lowered the package on both of our cell phones, lowered the amounts we were spending on our variable spending just to name a few changes. These are small changes in our lives- do we really notice these changes? No, we don’t really notice them.

However, did we take out all our wants? No, we still have netflix, we still get the newspaper daily, we have money in our entertainment jar but we spend our money much more wisely now than before.

Every thing concerning money is a choice- some choices are easier than others to make.

Do you know where you could cut back if you had to? What ways have you tried to cut back in the past?

Financial Management Tip Day 5: Can you Spot the Missing Categories?

Financial Management Tip Day 5: Are you missing categories in your spending journal and budget? 

If we look at our spending journal in preparation for designing and implementing a budget, it is important to consider the categories of our spending. The hardest categories to include are those that do not show up every single month.

For example some spending that you might have forgotten about:

  • Do you pay your insurance monthly or yearly?
  • Do you pay your house tax monthly or yearly?
  • What about about your water bill?
  • Magazine subscriptions?
  • Birthday gifts/cards or holidays and celebrations
  • Vacations
  • Vehicle maintenance, inspection, registration, tire changeover
  • Registering children for summer camp or sports teams
  • Charity contributions
  • Household maintenance

I am a firm believer in the concept of planned spending (budgeted spending).

Any time you fail to plan in advance for spending than you end up short-changing yourself, stressing yourself and your budget out, relying on credit to fill in the gap, or not participating in certain events. So rather include these items in your budget on a weekly and monthly basis.

For example, your daughter wants to play soccer this summer. You need to save $400.00 for registration and new cleats. You get the reminder to register at the beginning of May and you have 4 weeks to find $400.00 -that is $100.00 a week which is a lot to find. What if you had 6 months to save this money? How much would you need to save every month? $67.00 a month or $16.75 a week. These numbers are much more attainable.

What if you decided to go on a family vacation next summer? You know you need money for flights, hotel, food, souvenirs, and outings/activities. You decide you need $5000.00 for this adventure. That means you need to save $417.00 a month or $104.25 a week for the entire year to save up that money.

How to Save Money Tip Day 4: Cheap Ways to Entertain Family or Friends

How to Save Money Tip Day 4: Cheap Ways to Entertain Family or Friends

Having your friends or family over doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. There are lots of fun activities that you can do that that are inexpensive. Cheap is often seen as a negative word but I think we need to change our perception. I think we should look at frugal ways to entertain both at home and elsewhere.

Involve your kids in planning fun activities such as games like tag, hide and go seek, jump rope etc, artistic ideas like drawing with chalk. Kids can help make inexpensive decorations for parties or holiday celebrations.

Be honest with your friends and family- tell them expectations need to change and that you value their friendship but that your pocketbook needs help. They might also feel the same way but find talking about it difficult.

Cheap doesn’t mean less fun.

Alternatives to expensive nights or activities include:

  • Potlucks
  • Cooking parties (freezer meals, cookie swaps, etc)
  • Clothing swaps (trade no longer worn clothing with your friends)
  • Day trips to a local beach
  • Beach party- bon fire, roasting marshmallows
  • Movie and popcorn at home
  • Picnics
  • BBQ’s
  • Pool parties
  • Board or card games
  • Wine and cheese parties (everyone contributes food and a bottle of wine)
  • International food nights (everyone brings a different dish)
  • Coffee date
  • Manicure or facials at home
  • Video games
  • Etc.

Remember to think outside the box for different and unique ideas. After all it isn’t about the amount of money being spent but rather time spent together and all the fun experiences we share.

How to Save Money Tip Day 3: Simple and Inexpensive Ideas for having Fun

How to Save Money Tip Day 3: Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun this Summer

Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive, it is more about having the experience.

Look for low-cost or free events, activities, and programs in your own community.

Listen to the radio or check out your community’s website for ideas.

Some suggestions for fun activities include:

  • check out charities that can benefit from your time and energy (for ex. charity walks)
  • train for a marathon
  • fun days for children
  • a fair, exhibition, or circus
  • heritage days or sites
  • a local park (play catch, frisbee, picnic lunch)
  • nature trails (bike or walk)
  • museums
  • just to name a few

Sometimes the real key is to think outside the box and look for different alternatives you can enjoy….