6 tips to save money when grocery shopping

grocery shopping photoGrocery shopping is probably the largest variable expense in your budget. You have a lot of control over many of the things you choose while grocery shopping so it makes sense to focus on money-saving efforts. Many monthly expenses, such as your house payment, car and other debt payments, insurance policies and utility bills, are relatively fixed, and you will have a fairly difficult time changing them. Opportunities do arise in reducing those big payments, but you probably spend money at the grocery store every week.

Here are a few thoughts in saving money in this weekly battle.

1. Always pay with a cash-back credit card when you are grocery shopping

Using a credit card for groceries is a bit controversial. If you cannot keep your balance on your card at zero every month, then don't do this. However, that is a sign of a bigger problem. You need to takes steps to not carry a balance. Once you have learned this habit then paying for groceries with a credit card will earn you those points. The grocery store is already building in the cost of the credit card transaction into the price of their goods, so you need to get this money back.

2. Don't do your grocery shopping at only one store

Grocery stores will try very hard to make your relationship with them to be exclusive. When it comes to grocery shopping that can also be a real budget buster. No one store is the lowest on prices all the time. Some stores will discount certain products in favor of others. By making two stops and planning ahead, you can make a big difference in your grocery bill.

3. Coupons save money when grocery shopping

You should be taking advantage of coupon offers where you can. It’s not impossible to save 10%, 15%, or even as much is 20% with diligent coupon clipping. Luckily, many stores are offering their coupons in digital format so you can avoid the piles of small pieces of paper.

4. A grocery list is essential

Don't wander the aisles of the store looking for things that you need. You need a grocery shopping list will prevent this from happening. When you wander the aisles, you will be buying items that you don’t actually need. Stick to the list, and there will be much less chance of overspending.

5. Avoid the crowds

When the store is crowded, you will be less likely to compare brands for a better deal. Choose times that are off-peak so that you are not hurried. This way you can compare the cost per ounce to make sure that you really are getting the best deal.

6. Be lonely when you are grocery shopping

Many people find that they bring along a child or spouse, that other person's habits will increase the number of items in the cart. This is especially true for a hungry child that will have a hard time passing by the aisle of favorite foods. I am not encouraging you to hire a baby-sitter when you shop, but if you can arrange your schedule to be alone, you will frequently make better buying decisions.

Photo by Mike Schmid

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