Budget Essentials: Planning and Saving to be on Target

A big part of savings that I write about each week, whether it’s in your supermarket savings or elsewhere, all contributes and shapes your financial destiny, and a budget is an important part of that.

Budget essentials: Planning and Saving to be on Target

If you wonder why I harp on budgeting, savings, and proper planning to insure you always have the ability to meet your expenses, I will admit there was a time when I didn’t plan well and save properly. I thought, “No problem, I always earn more each year, I’m young and healthy, and I have really good credit.” While that was true then, it’s not quite the same now. Today I have learned (the hard way, unfortunately) that earning potential is much more challenging. Age and health sneak up on you and planning your expenses and discretionary spending variables in detail (and yes, updating them) is truly essential.

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Check Receipts When You’re Checking Out

It’s so important to check receipts every time you check out. Why? It’s shopping day and you’ve diligently planned your meals, scanned the weekly ads, carefully checked prices, crafted your shopping list, clipped and printed coupons, and checked your budget. You arrive at the store (not hungry, of course), efficiently navigate the aisles, avoid impulse buys, and check out. But when you get home and unpack, you look over the receipt and wham! all your diligence is undone by an error on your receipt. It’s so aggravating. Who wants to bother wasting the gas and time to go back to the store?

check receipt

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Supermarket Savings: 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Save Money on Groceries

Do's and don'ts to save money on groceries
Follow these do’s and don’ts for more savings

While good planning, and following that plan, is the key to saving money on groceries, there are still things you can do to limit your spending while you’re shopping at the store. Whether it’s avoiding the influence of the supermarket as they try to coax you into spending more, or simply asking for what you want, here are 10 do’s and don’ts to save while grocery shopping:

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Supermarket Savings: Your Grocery Budget – How to Make it and Stick to it

Grocery budget chart
Setting a budget goal for food will help you save money

Do you have a monthly grocery budget that’s working for you? Too many people head to the supermarket, start shopping and know that they are finished when their cart is “full”. Without a workable budget to guide your shopping, you’re probably spending more than you need every month with much of it going to waste.

Unfortunately, for lots of people the idea of budgeting is either scary (will I need to know spreadsheets?) or restrictive (I just want to buy what I want). It doesn’t have to be either one. A grocery budget is simply a goal to help you plan for what’s really important. You can treat it like a game where the object is to see how little you can spend while still providing nourishing and tasty meals and snacks for your family and the prize is putting that extra money toward another goal.Continue reading“Supermarket Savings: Your Grocery Budget – How to Make it and Stick to it”

Supermarket Savings: Tips for Healthy Choices on a Budget

Healthy choices: salad with chicken
Planning healthy meals in advance makes your shopping easier

Shopping for healthy choices can be a real challenge. The supermarket’s goal is to get you to spend more and the selections of glamour packaging and promotion often makes finding healthy choices difficult on a budget. Factor in your time and energy to inspect labels and contents and you will see that it can lead to “easy” choices which may be poor ones. In the long run, it costs more money if your health is impacted and your spending on medical care increases.

A few months ago, my wife and I began making changes to our diet to improve our health without making a dent in our budget. Buying fewer processed foods, more whole grains, leaner proteins and more fresh produce has helped us to lose weight and feel better. Do you have the right ingredients for a healthy diet on a healthy budget?Continue reading“Supermarket Savings: Tips for Healthy Choices on a Budget”

Supermarket Savings: Build a Better Grocery List

Shopping list
Shop smarter with your grocery list

Creating a grocery list will save you money, but what you really want to do is slash your food bill and save thousands every year! How can you do that?

Pick a time of day to create your list when it’s quiet and you’re not hungry. In fact, make sure you’re not hungry when you shop. Studies show that when we are thinking “hungry” we tend to stray from our list and buy impulse items, which can add considerable expense to your bottom line.

The most important step to creating a smart list is to shop the sales. Let the supermarket weekly circular serve as your guide. Each week, go online or check your Sunday ads or weekly mailed flyers to see what items you should build your week’s menu and shopping list around.

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Supermarket Savings: Comparing “Real” Prices

Unit prices
Check the price per weight for easy comparisons

To compare supermarket prices, it’s important to look at the “per unit pricing” on every item you are buying. By law, every supermarket must have a comparable price on its shelf so that you can literally compare the “apples to apples” price. For example, let’s say you are comparing two brands of granola bars and one box has 8 bars and the other has 10. By comparing the “per ounce” prices on the shelf tag, you can easily see which one is the better value.

You probably know that in general, larger packages are sold at lower per unit prices, but it isn’t always true! The most obvious exceptions are items that are “on sale”, where literally a smaller package can be 10-80% less than the larger package of that product on a per ounce or per pound basis. When you stop and look at items, some may have 4, 5 or even 6 different sizes available! When you add coupon or discount savings to the offered price it can increase savings dramatically.

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Supermarket Savings: Picking the Grocery Sales

Save money
Save money by picking the best sales

The term “cherry picking” refers to the concept that every week a grocery store will feature several sale items with extreme value pricing, so low it may be worth buying and even stocking up on them for rare dramatic savings. There may be a qualifying purchase attached such as “save $3.00 on a 12-pack of cola when you spend an additional $25.00” on your groceries that day (with reward card and coupon)! If you normally pay $3.99, this is a 75% savings on your purchase! If you can find several others like this kind of savings, it may be worth it to purchase some of your regular staples to get these deals.

There are numerous chains around trying to persuade you to shop with them. If you go to each store and “cherry pick” their best advertised sales, you will save many dollars more than using only one market that week. As long as you’re not buying things you don’t need or don’t use, or traveling outrageous distances wasting your valuable time and gas, I recommend you at least check out markets near your home and/or workplace to cherry pick.

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