It’s no secret that we are all looking for ways to trim our budgets. The first places to make changes are on the luxuries like that new car or bigger house. But, the bigger challenge is saving money on the necessities like food and household items. With just a little time and effort, you can reduce your spending in the grocery store.
Create a list.
Set aside time to make a list of common grocery items you purchase on at least a monthly basis. Set up the list according to the layout of the store you frequent most often. For example, at the local Brookshire’s, when I enter the store and go to the right, the departments in order are: produce, health and beauty items, juices, canned food, bread and baking needs, pasta and cereal, paper products, pet supplies, snacks, frozen foods and dairy products. So, I make my list with the categories in that order. Next, go through the house and write down items you purchase on a regular basis. Place these items under the correct categories on your list. Type up your list, save it on your computer, and print off several copies. When shopping day arrives, you can complete your list quickly—highlight, circle, underline-whatever makes it easy for you spot specific items. Walk through the house with your list and mark what you need. Grocery stores frequently change their layouts (just to make us hunt for items), so occasionally update your list to work with the new store layout.
We all know the advantages of using coupons. The problem is what to do with them after we cut them out and they begin accumulating! Try using a box that is made to hold 3″ x 5″ cards, such as a recipe box, that comes with dividers. Label the dividers with main categories of the items you usually buy. Here is one suggested list: baking/desserts, breakfast, canned/boxed, cleaning/paper, dairy, drinks, frozen, health/beauty, meat, non-food, pasta/rice, sauces/dressings. As you cut out coupons, immediately put them in the box in the proper category before they begin to pile up on the counter or in the junk drawer. To avoid letting coupons expire before putting them to good use, put two envelopes in the front of the box-one for the current month, and the other for the month coming up. When you make your shopping list, check these two envelopes first, and use the coupons closest to the expiration date. If you keep your system going, you don’t have to lug your entire coupon collection to the store every time you shop.
Look for surprises.
You can save a lot of money by planning ahead and making a list, but sometimes you can find surprise bargains. One local store has a rack of day-old pastries and bread conveniently in the middle of the dairy aisle so you have to maneuver your buggy around it. Sometimes the items are marked at 50% or below original cost. Look on the top and bottom shelves as you work your way through the aisles. Many times those are the locations of the cheaper priced items. At the checkout, you might find a display of merchandise the manager is trying to move out quickly, so the price has been reduced. The trick is to have a plan, but be open to finding good unexpected bargains.
By taking just a little time to organize your grocery list and your coupons, you will have more time to seek out those surprise bargains!