In these difficult economic times it can seem like money has to stretch further and further every day. Many people are trying to budget and spend wisely by avoiding large purchases. However making savings on the more regular, every day spending will make much more of an impact on most families’ finances, particularly on the weekly grocery shopping.
There are many ways to save, and with a bit of forethought and planning, food shopping can be much kinder on the wallet.
The first thing to consider is coupons. Many magazines, leaflets that come through the door, and loyalty card mailings are packed full of money-off coupons which, despite the best of intentions, often never end up being used. The key is to be organised. As soon as you spot some coupons, have a look to see which are for items that you normally buy. Cut them out straight away and put them into your wallet or purse so that when you next go shopping they are easily accessible.
Planning what you are going to buy in advance can be very helpful in preventing impulse purchases. Keeping a list in the kitchen for when things run out can help to keep track of what staples you may need, and remembering to take it with you to the shops helps, too!
Another great money saving opportunity is to take advantage of special offers. Nowadays special deals can be found whether you are shopping at a large supermarket or your local shop. Some items are simply reduced in price, while others are on ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘three for two’ offers. The danger, of course, is that of the false economy, where you buy things you were not planning to, or which you cannot realistically use, purely because they are cheap. This is not an effective strategy for saving money! Instead, make sure that you only buy things you want, and will use, because no matter how reduced an item is, if it goes to waste you have spent, rather than saved, money.
It is not unusual for ‘three for two’ type offers to be on items which are perishable, and this is where shopping regularly with a friend can come in handy. Sharing the cost of these offers and splitting the items saves you both money, and enables you to take advantage of offers on food which will spoil quickly. Additionally, sharing the cost will help you both to save on items which you had not otherwise budgeted for, such as washing powder or toilet paper. These kinds of items might not be needed immediately, but will last.
Shopping in the hour before a shop closes can bring surprisingly good discounts on items which are close to their use-by date. It is impossible to predict which products will be reduced, but it is a great way to pick up a bargain.
Finally, many shops offer loyalty cards which return points for every purchase. Taking advantage of the offers associated with these cards can boost your points, which you can then spend at a later date. Saving these until a week when money is tight can really make the difference between frugal and fancy foods.
Using these tips, the weekly shop can be transformed from a source of financial stress, to an exercise in careful spending, where making wise choices need not reduce the number of foods that are available to you. Taking a cautious approach to shopping can have a really positive impact on your day-to-day finances, leading to a much more secure life for you and your family.