It seems like prices are going higher and higher while everyone’s pay (if they’re lucky enough to have a job in this economy) stays the same. The cost of basic things like a gallon of milk have risen because of an increase in gas prices and other costs, so the difference is being passed on to consumers. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you take that one extra step towards saving money on every little thing possible, and a great place to squeeze more out of your dollar is on your grocery bill. A few small and easy-to-do changes in habit will slash your grocery bill down to a fraction of what it was before.
If you get nothing else from this, please do the following: make a list of what you need before you enter the store. This can be done at home, or in the car in the parking lot before you get out, but this is such an extremely important point that cannot be stressed enough. Making a list, and sticking to it, will save you a whole lot of money. The idea is that if an item is not on the list, you simply do not buy it. An exception to this is if it’s an ingredient that you simply forgot to list, but make a clear distinction between needing something and wanting it. The purpose of the list is to prevent impulse buys and to also save you time since you aren’t wandering around the store. Instead, you will walk straight to the things you need.
Once you have your list, you can take another easy step that will cut another few percentage points off of your grocery bill by simply searching the Internet for printable coupons for the items on your list. Just go down your list and search your favorite search engine for “item name coupon”. Print the coupons off that match what you need, but don’t get caught up in the trap of deciding to buy something just because you have a coupon for it — stick to your list. While you might not feel like you’re saving a lot of money by printing off $0.50 coupons, if you saved just $2 with coupons each week on your grocery bill, that’s over $100 a year, so it quickly adds up. Along similar lines as these, make sure you have a loyalty card for your grocery store if they have one, since this will often bring you instant savings at the check-out.
Finally, you should try to never shop for groceries while you’re hungry. Studies have shown that people buy much more food when they are hungry than when they are not. Ideally, you would plan your day so that your grocery shopping is done after a meal. This will lower your chance of making impulse buys by making you not have to fight yourself the whole time you’re in the store. For similar reasons, it couldn’t hurt to make your list after a meal to begin with. This will likely give you an increased objectivity about what groceries you need as opposed to what groceries you want.