This is a guest post by Sharon L. Cece, a consulting editor, a frugal living columnist and a financial stability project manager. Her thrift solutions have appeared in a number of print and Internet sources including Bankrate.com and The Wall Street Journal. A graduate of Florida State University, she assists college students with academic and career choices as part of a professional mentorship program.
Frugal families can save up to half of their grocery bill by organizing their supermarket shopping and implementing these five money-saving tips.
A good rule of thumb is to review at least two supermarket ads that are close in proximity to your home, for it’s counter-productive to save a few dollars if you have to spend more in time and gas to drive there.
First Review the Loss Leaders
Loss leaders are grocery items that the supermarket loses money on to get you into the store, and are shown on the front and back of the sales circulars. Stock up on these items to the limit (but only if you need them).
Make a List of the Items You Need
Supermarkets are literally banking on consumer impulse buys such as magazines, dessert and alcohol. Once the loss leaders entice you into the store, do your best to stick to your sales items and “ignore the impulses”. Coupons are great money-savers, yet store brands can save as much if not more than brand name items with coupons. Supermarkets such as Lowes Foods and Kroger always offer double coupons and this can really add up. Harris Teeter routinely offers triple coupon days.
Never Buy Anything that’s Not on Sale
Eventually everything goes on sale, so it takes a bit of time and research to watch when the items you need are marked down. As you shop, if you see an excellent buy such as an item that is half off or buy-one-get-one-free, stock up on it until the next sale. Do this with all of your grocery purchases, and you will routinely be paying 30-50% less on groceries than the person who rationalizes that it doesn’t save that much or isn’t worth the time. Assuredly, it is worth the time!
Shop the Perimeters of the Store as Opposed to the Middle
The perimeters have produce, meat and fish, and dairy. The center of the store has packaged and processed food. Processed foods are fun and save time but aren’t that healthy and are expensive. Rarely buy pre-packaged treats; whenever possible, make your own. Kids love to get in on treat making, and it teaches them valuable cooking skills (click here for an easy crispy snack recipe). Also, cut down or eliminate soda and juice; in fact, kids are healthier drinking water, a frugal must! You can purchase a filter for most refrigerators or faucets–this saves the environment from plastic bottle waste.
Check Your Receipt
Many times your supermarket receipt is inaccurate. A research study conducted by yours truly tracked all the receipt errors in a one-month period. The result: the receipts were incorrect 66% of the time in the store’s favor for a total of 35 cents to seven dollars on average per receipt! This may sound negligible, but it can add up to hundreds and even thousands of dollars over the course of a year. By checking every receipt, you can “save” money you didn’t even know you had lost.
Have any other tips? Share them with the readers below!