By Dr. Rebecca J. Travnichek, AFC®
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save money on your groceries. Here are nine things you can do each month to save your family $200/month.
- Make a list and stick to it! Planning meals in advance and making your grocery list before you go grocery shopping will help you to not give in to temptation and buy impulse items. Research has found that unplanned grocery purchases can add an extra 20% to your grocery bill. Monthly savings = $50.
- Paper or plastic? Not bags as you may be thinking. I am talking about cash or credit. If you are going to buy groceries on credit, be sure to use a card that works for you. By this I mean use one with cash back, rewards, and instant discounts. However, if you rack up interest charges by not paying it off each month, you lose any savings it provided you. Monthly savings = $15.
- Snip ‘n’ Save. Yes, coupons can save you money. Spend no more than 10-15 minutes a week thumbing through weekly ads for coupons or cruise websites like Coupons.com. Only use coupons on items your family needs. Buying just because you have the coupon doesn’t save you anything. Monthly savings = $15.
- Cash incentive. Research has shown that consumers who shop with cash only, spend 12%-18% less than those who shop with credit cards. So leave the cards at home and take only what you have budgeted for groceries in cash. Monthly savings = $40.
- Shop around. While looking for coupons in the weekly ads, be sure to check the prices for the items on your grocery list. Or better yet, use the grocery ads to plan your meals in order to take advantage of grocery sales. However, driving to 10 different stores may end up costing you more. Monthly savings = $25.
- Try generic. I know. Some of you may be thinking, I hate generic! However, store-brand products have improved over time. Oftentimes generic products are made by brand-name manufacturers and they may cost 20% less. Give generics a try the next time you go to the store. Monthly savings = $20.
- Avoid gimmick pricing. I bet all of you have seen the “10 for $10” sales or something similar in the stores. Don’t fall for this. Be a smart consumer and check the prices are on similar products, they may be cheaper. Besides, you may not be able to use the items before they expire. Monthly savings = $5.
- Pricey things come in small packages. Tiny bags are cute. But you are almost always better off to purchase the larger package sizes and divvy them up yourself. Use the nutrition label for correct portion sizes. Monthly savings = $20.
- Time is money. Convenience foods may save you time, but they also cost you more money than buying fresh, unprepared items. For example, a bag of pre-cut salad vs. buying a head of lettuce and your choice of veggies. The fresh lettuce and veggies will feed more family members over a longer period. Monthly savings = $10.
Apply all nine tips shared for reducing your grocery bill and keep $200 each month in your pocket to use for your family’s financial goals.
For more information on ways to save money on your groceries and other household expenses, check out the websites below:
Dr. Rebecca J. Travnichek, AFC®
Family Financial Education Specialist
University of Missouri Extension – Camden County