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With groceries taking up such a major part of most household budgets, finding ways to save money on this can have a huge impact on your overall spending.
And as an added bonus, it can be great to combine this with a way to minimize your shopping trips, especially in light of the current health situation.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of tips that can help you achieve both of these objectives. That is, with just a few tweaks to your spending and planning habits, you’ll be able to help both your own health and that of your wallet!
Many of us are used to heading to the mall to waste a few hours if we’re bored. Or maybe you find yourself back at the supermarket a few times a week to pick up “just a couple of extra things”.
Either way, that’s no longer ideal from a health perspective, given that experts are recommending that we reduce our contact with other people as much as possible for the foreseeable future.
At the same time, it’s also not ideal for your budget. In fact, if you’re trying to cut your spending, minimizing your shopping trips can be one of the best things you can do.
For example, Forbes found that 89% of women and 78% of men who visit physical stores will add extra items to their cart beyond what they actually need. This means that the more times you visit a store, the more likely you are to buy extra items.
Or to look at it a different way: the less frequently you go to a store, the less chances you’ll have to spend more than you intended.
This means that minimizing your shopping trips to only when you absolutely need something can save you hundreds of dollars each year – which makes this a really effective strategy for both your budget and your health.
By preparing a meal plan for your household for the week, you’re making sure that you know exactly what you’re going to cook and, consequently, the exact ingredients you need to make this food.
No guessing as to whether you might need to get flour or if you should probably get some more pasta “just in case”.
Instead, you’ll buy exactly what you need – no more, no less. And the potential savings here are huge.
In fact, this could potentially help you to avoid wasting $1,800 a year, which is the average amount a household of four throws away annually in the US.
There are several great websites out there that let you plug in the ingredients you already have in the kitchen. It will then tell you what you can cook with what you have on hand.
This is a great tip for those who are looking to aggressively cut their spending, as it makes sure you use up everything you’ve already bought. But it’s also a good idea for reducing supermarket visits.
After all, by doing this, you’ll need to buy less grocery items and should – at least theoretically – only need to go to the supermarket when you really, truly have nothing left in the cupboard to cook with.
According to the recommended household budget percentages, food should make up between 10% and 15% of your overall budget.
So if you’re really focused on sticking to your budget (as you should be!) one way to achieve this is to make sure you are only allowed to spend up to your budget cap. Once you’ve reached that amount – even if you really really want that extra thing you just spotted in aisle 3 – you’re done.
And it also helps to reduce supermarket visits. After all, you’re likely to have used up most of your budget during your “main” shopping trip, so additional trips are less likely to be possible under your strict budget.
One way to make sure you actually do this is to only take cash with you to the supermarket. This is actually how you apply the envelope budgeting method in practice, which is a favorite of many people as it truly means that you have no way of spending more than you’ve budgeted.
This should be easy for you to make based on your meal plan but, essentially, making sure you always have a shopping list when you go to the store helps you to avoid the problem mentioned above that most people face, in that they’re often tempted to buy extra things when they go shopping.
You’ll have to force yourself to stick to it and so you may want to combine this with some of the other tips mentioned above, like only bringing enough money to buy what’s on the list and nothing more. But when you do this right, having a shopping list is easily one of the most effective ways to save money at the supermarket.
And how does it minimize your shopping trips?
Well, you’ll be preparing your shopping list based on all the meals you intend to make this week. This means that you should be buying everything you need in one visit.
Meaning you’ll have no reason to go back to the supermarket until the next week as you won’t have forgotten anything!
The USDA estimates that the average monthly cost of food for a family of four on a “moderate-cost plan” is between $885 and $1056.
Given how big a portion this is of most household budgets, the opportunities to save serious money here are significant.
And if this also helps you to take extra health-related precautions as we’ve been advised to do at the moment, then that’s just an added bonus!
So with just a bit of planning and self-control, you can easily save yourself hundreds of dollars per month – which, over time, can really add up to help you take better control of your money.
Tags: shopping trip