Are You Spending Too Much on Groceries?
How many times have you checked out at the grocery and were surprised by the total? It’s easy to let our grocery bill get too big if we’re not careful. Food prices may have gone up for certain items lately, and we’re making more meals at home now than eating at restaurants. However, there are ways to keep that grocery expense under control.
- Figure out how much you can reasonably spend on food. Financial advisors suggest spending no more than 10% of your income after taxes on food. That includes the supermarket as well as restaurants. If you want real numbers worked out for you, check out the USDA’s website for food plans based on averages for four levels: thrifty, low-cost, moderate, and liberal plans.
- Make a shopping list. There are many grocery shopping apps Find one that fits your needs. These tools help you create digital shopping lists, including some that offer digital coupons. If you prefer going old school, make your list with a pen and paper and post the list on a board in your kitchen or on the refrigerator. As you run low on items, put them on your list. Then, when it’s time to shop, stick to that list and try to avoid impulse buying.
- Use reward programs. If you shop at a big name store (Winn Dixie, LeBlanc’s, etc.), the store will likely have a store reward program. Make sure you sign up for that program to get store discounts and coupons. The store may even have its own shopping app.
- Consider ordering online. Not only does it save you a trip inside a store during the pandemic, but it also keeps a running total of your expenses before you check out. If you go over your shopping limit, simply take certain items off your list to bring down your total. Ordering online can also help stop impulse buying.
- Buy only what you need. Avoid buying anything just because you have a coupon or because the store offers a bulk discount. If you can’t eat 2 bags of salad greens in a week, a “buy one get one 50% off” offer will simply fill your garbage can with wasted food.
Keeping your food expenses under control is easy with a little planning. The digital tools available makes this even easier. The hardest part will be controlling your impulse to reach for a sweet treat before checking out, and you may be on your own with that one.