I must admit, it wasn’t until I really started monitoring and leveraging select coupons, sales cycles, and participating in a rewards program at the grocery store I shop at, did I see the savings start adding up. Let me give you an example.
In aggregate, I’ve saved $319.00 just in the last three months. Here is the breakdown:
√ $92 in rewards
√ $31 in coupons
√ $195 in savings
Overall, I’m saving about 15 percent on my grocery bill. In one year, I can save on average about $1,100 to my grocery bill. Now, multiply that out over a period of five years – wow! And, I’m not a super couponing person.
I was curious about the 30,000 feet view of what Americans spend on their groceries. I stopped by and looked at the statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Check out these numbers: (1)
√ “In 2013, households in the middle income quintile spent an average of $5,728 on food, representing 13.1 percent of income, while the lowest income households spent $3,655 on food, representing 36.2 percent of income.”
√ “Food prices have posted annual increases of between 1 and 6 percent, for an average annual increase of 2.6 percent.”
√ “Between 1960 and 2007, the share of disposable personal income spent on total food by Americans fell from 17.5 to 9.6 percent, driven by a declining share of income spent on food at home.”
√ “In 2013, Americans spent 5.6 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food at home and 4.3 percent on food away from home.”
So, as a busy professional, what can you do to save some dollars to your grocery bill? Let me share just three tips I’ve done that has helped me.
Create master grocery list
I know. Everybody knows they need to stick to a list so they don’t overspend at the store. But, I’ll bet many of you haven’t implemented a master grocery list like I use. It’s a pre-typed list of the standard goods I purchase weekly. It makes it so convenient and keeps me on target. I’ve also seen shoppers use apps on their smartphones to manage their shopping.
Make the effort to use coupons
As I mentioned, I’m not a super couponer like Jill Cataldo. In fact, there are many coupons that simply don’t apply to my eating lifestyle. However, there are ample coupons I receive at check out, catch in the paper or in fliers that do apply. At first glance, it appears it’s just simple nickel and diming, but those nickels and dimes add up.
Watch for the Sales Cycles
One tip I did receive from covering a Jill Cataldo event was the value of following the sales cycles of a grocery store. Candidly, I never paid attention to that issue until I started watching my grocery budget more closely. Interestingly enough, there is a pattern to follow.
According to Shannon Medisky, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stretching Your Dollar, these sales cycles are 9 weeks long. (If you want some great savings ideas, check out Medisky’s book from the library!)
I’ve had some people tell me that the little savings you get from the above effort really isn’t worth it. I respectfully disagree. The reality is that many money smart consumers are living a fairly tight budget. It’s to your long-term financial future to identify every honest way to save small amounts here and there. It really does add up, and then you can use those savings for other purposes other than groceries.
Tips to Read:
How do you handle the receipts you get from the grocery store? We share some tips and ideas on handling those bits of papers to help save money and protect your privacy: Banking Basics: What Type of Receipt Handler Are You?