Friday, September 16, 2011

7 Fail-proof ways to save money at the grocery store

I compiled this list to pull all the information out there together, and to hopefully make life easier for those of you who desperately need to get started saving, but have been grasping at straws up until this point.  Use these steps, and the tools and links provided below and you will be a saving Sally in no time!

7 fail-proof ways to save money at the grocery store:
1.        Use coupons
You may or may not currently be a coupon user.  In fact, you may think that people who bust out their coupons in the checkout lane are among the lamest and most irritating people to roam the grocery store aisles.  The truth is, however, couponers save more money shopping than standard shoppers could even dream of.  And you can do this too.  All you have to do is match up your coupons with store sales (see next step) and voila!  There are lots of tools available to learn how to coupon in a practical way and shave 40-60% off of each grocery store trip.  If you want to learn this magical practice, my blog a shot.  If you are a visual learner, you will also find a video series there for your viewing pleasure.
2.       Shop sales
This corresponds with step one, but it is important enough to have its own step.  It may seem obvious or silly to some, but to others it is a novel idea.  If you pay attention to your grocery store’s weekly ad, then you can pay 1.25 for a jar of peanut butter when it goes on sale rather than paying 3.50 for it at the store’s normal price.  Add a 1.00 off coupon to that and you have a .25 jar of peanut butter.  At this time, you may be saying to yourself, “Well that all sounds well and good for people who have time to scour grocery store ads weekly, but I have THINGS TO DO WITH MY LIFE!”  Don’t fret about this, if you have the interest then others have the time.  There are lots of sites that do take the time to match up existing coupons with grocery store sales and then share them publicly.
3.       Make a shopping list
A shopping list is the best weapon to arm yourself with in the battle for your wallet.  Everyone has experienced the situation where you go into the store for stuff to make dinner that night, and when you get home you realize that you spent $50 on ice cream, potato chips and hair clips and now you’re stuck with the decision of whether to go back to the store, or to eat a potato chip milkshake for dinner.   If you know without a shadow of a doubt what you are going to purchase before you even enter the store, and you know a ballpark of how much you are going to spend, then situations like this can easily be avoided.  This leads me to my next point.
4.       Make a budget, and stick to it!
When people think of the word budget, they associate it with generic vitamins and 8 pound blocks of cheese.  This is just silly.  This may be some peoples’ budgets, but it does not have to be yours.  Your budget should just be a figure that works for you.  Make friends with it.  Don’t try to break any records here, if you create a budget of $15 a week for all of your groceries, you are probably going to go way beyond it and feel bad about yourself, and that is not the point.  You can even figure out about what you spend every week currently, and try to reduce it by $5.  Does that work?  Then try $10. This is where your budget and your shopping list go hand in hand. See, now we’re saving! 
If you have trouble sticking to your budget, try using cash.  I know many people are fans of credit cards because of the points and rewards that you get, but if you are having trouble reigning in your spending, get some practice with cash for a little while.  Once you are feeling a little bit more in control, then you can switch back to credit cards.
5.       Focus on what you came for, don’t get distracted
This is a big one, and it leads to potato chip milk shake scenarios.  Incorporate everything we have learned so far in order to leave the store with money in your pocket.  Don’t snatch up the artisan blend salad mix, BE STRONG! You have prepared for this.  Shield yourself with your budget, your coupons, and your shopping list, and you should be just fine.
6.      Don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry
I have to remind myself of this constantly.  It will be your biggest downfall.  If you are starving while you are shopping, you will be able to convince yourself that a deep fryer and a bulk sized package of bacon are smart purchases.  If you go when you’ve recently eaten (sometimes I keep a snack in the car for this specific purpose, I’m not even kidding) then you won’t have any trouble listening to your head instead of your stomach.
7.       Allow yourself one “splurge” per week (one thing that you really want but don’t necessarily need)
This may seem counterproductive to what we’ve already talked about so far, but hey, I’m not a soul-less money saving machine.  If you don’t get a little somethin’ somethin’ for yourself every now and again, you are going to go plumb crazy (think Jack Nicholson in the Shining, now place that in your grocery store).  Ok, that may be a stretch, but if you’re never getting anything that you want, and only what you need, you aren’t going to be able to stick to this program for very long.  I’m not saying to throw some precious gems in the cart or anything, but if there’s something that’s just really jumping out that you’ve been wanting, or your favorite salad dressing ran out but you don’t have a coupon for it, just go ahead and grab it, you deserve it!  I would suggest adding your “special item” to your list before you go though so that you are only buying what is on your list, that part is still the same.


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