Countless families are cutting back on expenses on an all-time new level. So many of you are in this same uncertain boat, paddling through money-saving waters. One helpful way to not let resentment darken your outlook is to change your way of thinking. Instead of thinking that you are ‘sacrificing’ more than ever before, in reality you have been sacrificing your hard-earned income all along, giving up dollars that could have stayed in your pocket from day one. Yes, you have worked hard for every penny you have made – don’t lose sight of that. So every penny you ever “over spend” is that same hard earned income down the drain!
Take pride in your job, but also take pride in possible savings. Don’t view it as a sacrifice, but as a challenge. As you approach grocery shopping, protect every dollar. Don’t let the grocery system out-smart you by robbing you of the savings you deserve. Not paying attention to prices is exactly what the grocery store wants you to do and you are their very favorite customer! When you do this the joke is on you and the grocery store producers are laughing their way to the bank…with your overspent money!
Adopt the mentality that you can give yourself a raise. Some of you have taken an income hit and you are looking for ways to earn extra money. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “I need to find a way to earn a few hundred extra dollars a month.” You don’t have to look very far. There are money saving tips at your fingertips that can free up that kind of money; giving you the raise you are looking for.
Here are some VERY practical, doable suggestions:
1) Eat dinner at home! Start by taking just one month and go on an ‘Eating Out Fast’. Track your savings and be amazed. Then reward yourself. If you saved $300 by eating at home, take $100 and buy a new dress or golf club! Re-invest the $200 back into your pocket as a wealth-building tool.
2) Don’t eat out at work. It really will not kill you to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Chances are good your mom and dad ate lots of “PB&J” so you could have your college education, so you can eat a lot of them too! Another secret, if you are cooking dinners at home, chances are you will have ample leftovers for a great free lunch.
3) Attempt coupons. But don’t let it overwhelm you to the point of throwing out the baby with the bath water. If you are eating at home and making a dinner plan based on the sales, then you are already saving a lot of money. You are in the game! Many people think you have to eat the ‘whole enchilada’ and clip coupons, shop several stores, etc. The thought is so overwhelming and taxing to an already stressed person, the “what’s the use” feeling takes over. Try starting out small, use a few coupons and venture into another whole level of savings one little bit at a time.
4) Switch to store brand products. Pick the 2 or 3 national brands you can’t live without, then search for coupons for those items. Keep using store brands – don’t go back! Use store brands in recipes and dishes that will go unnoticed by your family, ie. pasta, sauces, etc.
5) Take on the challenge: “The drive thru $10-dollar dinner grocery store challenge!” We’ve all been there: I have nothing to fix for dinner and it’s 5 O’clock. The next time you are in a pinch and you run to the grocery store to buy something to make for dinner, pick up the flyer at the front door. Stop for 5 minutes to flip through the flyer and get your dinner idea from what are the best sale prices. Base your main dish idea off a low meat price (.99 to 2.99 per lb), and then pinpoint the cheapest sides (ie. Frozen veggies @.99 per bag). If you shop for dinner in the reverse order, which would be to decide your main dish and sides before you peruse the flyer, then you will easily spend $20 to $30.
6) Better yet, make a dinner plan each week. Start with planning at least 5 dinners with a complete, detailed grocery list. Begin with your sale flyer and base your dinner ideas and sides off the sales. Planning is the magical cure to overspending on groceries! Make your detailed list and then stick to the list! Making a list also keeps you out of the grocery store. Multiple trips to the grocery store is a sure-fire recipe for spending double the amount on what you should. Make it your goal to shop only one time a week and that alone will reduce your overall spending.
7) Remember the “shaving principle” – it works! Shave a little here, shave a little there. Before you know it, it really adds up. The average grocery list for dinner items alone for one week consists of about 30 items. If you are over-spending an average of .50 cents per item, because those items are not on sale or they are just over priced period, that is $15 each week that you could be saving. You could free up $60 per month! So shave, shave, shave, every way you can – through coupons, buying store brands, and finding the lowest possible price.
If you are already following the suggestions above, then you have been on top of your game for a long time. You are looking at the rest of us and saying, “What have you been waiting on? ” While the rest of us were signing up for credit cards, you figured out that the number one way to free up money in your budget was in the grocery budget category. Most other expenses you cannot shrink and are fixed amounts, such as a mortgages or car payments. You utilized the “grocery store saving and shaving game” and watched that portion boomerang back in to your own personal wealth. The saving game is for everyone, so enter the game, take control, and reclaim every hard-earned dollar back to the well being of your own family.
Jane DeLaney is the Founder and CEO of E-Mealz, Inc. E-Mealz provides a simple on-line meal planning system based around Jane’s own frugal organization structure and delicious recipes the whole family can enjoy. Visit www.e-mealz.com for more information.