If you regularly walk out of the grocery store ticked off at how much you spent, rest easy: there is a better way. With a little bit of forethought and some planning ahead, the experts say you can actually slash your monthly grocery bill in half.
"The problem is that the average American is spending close to $900 a month at the grocery store," says coupon expert Josh Elledge of SavingsAngel
. "Instead, what you should be doing is only buying the absolute best deals."
Whether you live in a big city or the suburbs, these tips can help you spend less at the grocery store without sacrificing how much you get to bring home.
GO TO A CASH-ONLY SYSTEM
Experts say that making purchases in cash typically curbs overspending. Don't believe it? A now-famous Dun & Bradstreet study
found that people spend roughly 12 to 18 percent more when using a credit card versus cash.
This is precisely why adopting a cash-only system
for grocery spending is highly recommended. FYI: I started doing this about two months ago and have yet to go over my food budget, which used to be the norm. There's something about physically parting with my hard-earned cash that makes me think twice.
It turns out there's plenty of research to back it up. According to Psychology Today
, people typically find it more "psychologically painful" to fork over cash than to swipe a credit card. The takeaway here? Make a budget, then put away the plastic so that you actually stick to it.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DEALS
Yil Acosta of Orlando says she easily saves about $1,500 a year on groceries using a not-so-extreme couponing method. For her, it's all about scanning the Sunday paper, then checking for matchups on her favorite online coupon sites.
"I currently commit one to two hours per week to this, and it helps my family save a ton of money!" she says, adding that most Internet coupons can actually be printed twice. "This is important for [buy one-get one] deals because the purchase is treated as that of two items."
Elledge says that you can incorporate couponing into your life without going to the extreme measures we see on reality TV. "Coupons also kind of make people a little nervous because they think it's like how our mothers couponed back in the old days," he says. "Most major grocery chains make it easier than ever with digital coupons; plus there are a ton of apps you can use."
A few months back, Elledge says his local big-chain grocery store was running a buy one-get deal on Cheerios. On top of that, he found a coupon online for $2 off that could be printed more than once. This literally snagged him several boxes of free cereal.
Elledge started shopping this way about eight years ago and has reduced his grocery spending by 50 percent as a result.
As money-saving as couponing can be, some just say they just don't have the energy for it. If you fall into this camp, you might want to consider sketching a rough meal plan
before heading to the store. Knowing what you're cooking for dinner three days from now can seriously rein in overspending.
Instead of grabbing whatever looks good off the shelf, only reach for the stuff you actually need. (Plus, there's nothing worse than throwing away spoiled food that you never even got to eat.)
To make it easier, research budget-friendly recipes
ahead of time. Freeze-ahead recipes are also amazing for taking the stress out of weeknight dinner planning. (Trust me, your future self will thank you.)