Often, when people who are in financially strapped situations, their grocery shopping ends up on their credit cards. This can be a very dangerous practice, especially if you are unable to pay off the balance every month. The good new is groceries are not a fixed expense, so it is easy to tweak with a little bit of effort, which could save you lots of money.
Here are some tried and true ways to save money on grocery shopping:
Carefully read the shopping ads for the week. Many people will visit more than one store for good sales, but keep in mind the expense of traveling. It might seem like a good idea to travel to the other side of town for a small savings on an item, but factor in the gas cost and wear and tear on your vehicle, and you might be better off shopping at only one location.
Match coupons with the store’s sales. A Sunday paper usually costs less than a couple of dollars, and it is stuffed with money-saving coupons that may correspond with the week’s sales. One helpful hint: don’t buy something you wouldn’t ordinarily purchase just because of a coupon.
Make a list, but be flexible. Some people plan out a month’s worth of menus and make a list of everything needed. This can take a lot of time, especially if you work outside the home. It might be better to take a week at a time. A list can really help you keep on track, but allow yourself a little flexibility in the event a store has an unadvertised sale of which you can take advantage.
Buy in bulk. Typically, the larger the package, the more money you’ll save. For instance, a 24 pack of toilet paper is usually less expensive per unit than a four pack. That being said, you really have to keep a sharp eye out, because it isn’t always the case.
A day late. Don’t overlook day-old bakery goods. Often they are much cheaper and no different from the bakery items offered the same day. You can stock up and freeze what you don’t use right away, many times at significant savings.
Shop local for fresh. In season, the best place to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables is right in your local area. Farmer’s markets are plentiful in the right season, and not only is locally grown produce cheaper than in the store, it’s a lot healthier and tastier, too.
Grow your own. Even if you don’t have much of a green thumb or a lot of room, it’s easy enough to sow lettuce seeds in a container or herbs like basil, dill and cilantro. If the only space you have is on a patio or porch, try container gardening. There are many kinds of tomatoes and other vegetables that grow quite well in containers.
If you need to put groceries on a credit card, try to choose one of the low interest credit cards and pay the balance off as soon as possible. Paying higher interest rates and late fees will make all the money you just saved at the grocery store disappear.