Below are seven habits that lead to wasting money at the grocery store (without even realizing it).
I still remember being dazed and staring at the number.
My husband and I had been saving receipts all month as part of our "get out of debt plan." The only way to change your spending habits is to know WHERE your money is going. As we tallied up the numbers, I was shocked by how much we spent on food each month for our family of four. We slowly began to adjust our spending habits in unconventional ways. Below are seven money-wasting habits (written from personal experience) that you need to break to be able to move forward with reducing your grocery bill.
Let's get started.
1. Couponing Haphazardly
Yes, of course, coupons save you money, but not if used irresponsibly. Saving $2.00 on a product you wouldn't normally buy without "the deal" is still an added expense to your budget.
2. Not Taking Advantage of Online Savings
Check to see if your local grocery store has an app that helps you save money when you shop with them. If you use a larger retailer for shopping, like Walmart, be sure to check out their app which offers a Savings Catcher tool. After you're done shopping, you scan your receipt and it automatically looks for competitor sales prices, then you get a gift card for the difference. Pretty cool stuff. Here are some additional savings apps to check out, if you're not a Walmart shopper.
3. Shopping When You're Hungry
If your stomach is grumbling, don't set foot in a grocery store. You'll find yourself tossing extra items in the cart. Grab a small snack before you head out the door to keep your grocery bill (and mood!) in check.
4. Making More Than One Grocery Trip a Week
Ensure you stick to your food budget by skipping impromptu trips to the grocery store during the week. If you stop to pick up one or two items you've run out, chances are you'll end up spending money on extra things you throw in the cart while you're there. Sticking to a once-a-week trip helps ensure you're properly tracking your grocery consumption so you can budget properly.
5. Not Creating a Food Budget
If you want to be in control of your finances, you need to know how much money you're spending and where. You need a grocery budget! If you're not sure where to begin, start by collecting EVERY grocery store and restaurant receipt for one full month. At the end of the month, tally up your spending and start a family discussion.
Like I said earlier, I was blown away by how much our family was spending on food when we did this. I thought we were being frugal... I was wrong.
6. Using a Credit or Debit Card at the Grocery Store
When paying for groceries with a credit or debit card you simply push a few buttons and never truly consciously equate how much you've just spent. Consider going back to Grandma's old-fashion envelope system. Basically, you allocate a dedicated amount of money to your grocery budget into an envelope and only pay cash.
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You can grab a paper mail envelope, write "groceries" on the front, and throw it into your wallet. There are also some cool products out there, like this Envelope System Wallet from Dave Ramsey.
What I like about the Envelope System Wallet is that the cash-management envelopes have a grid for keeping track of your expenses. Below is a Money Matters YouTube playlist I've created which has an intro to the Envelope System Wallet as well as a few personal accounts from other moms using the system.
7. Being Stuck in the 50's
This isn't 1954. Your weekday dinners don't have to be a full course meat and potatoes meals. Our family plans a "full dinner" every other day. On the days in-between we rely on leftovers coupled with rice, pasta, extra veggies or side dishes. Reduce your guilt and redefine what dinner means to your family.
Changing these habits has helped our family buckle down our grocery spending. Eliminating our family's debt was a huge stress relief. I want to help you find smart spending habits that work for you and YOUR family too. If you have any questions about the info above, please let me know in the comments.
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