Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eight Grocery Store Mistakes That Cost You Money

For many of us, our grocery bill takes up a substantial portion of the budget. If your family is large, you could be spending what might equal a car payment just to feed and maintain your crew. It might be the last place you trim when you are reducing your budget but it's the easiest place to stay on track. Here are the biggest mistakes we make that blow the grocery budget.

**1** Not Setting a Budget.  If you are walking into a grocery store without a budget, you might as well just hand over your wallet.  Review your expenses and set a food budget. If you are looking to save some money, try trimming it down by a small amount such as ten percent or $20. Use an envelope for the cash or keep close tabs on the numbers as you are shopping.

**2** Misuse of Coupons.  These have the potential to cause two kinds of financial mistakes. First, we overspend. Let's say your budget is $75 and you have $10 in coupons. The goal is to walk away with $75 in groceries and only spend $65, rather than spending $75 for $85 worth of items. Make this mistake enough times and you've wasted what could equal a week's worth of your food budget. Another mistake is overshopping with coupons. You see a great coupon combined with a great price and you buy ten boxes of a detergent you have never used. And you discover Junior is allergic to it and you're stuck with a bad product you wished you had never purchased. The Golden Rule of Coupons should be to use them only on products you know and love OR to try a limited amount (one) of a product you've been wanting to try.  If you find something you want to try, combine it with a coupon. Don't buy a ton of something if you aren't  sure you will like it.

**3** Shopping Without a List.  This is as bad as shopping without a budget. You're in a rush, the kids are griping, or you're hungry and before you know it, you've forgotten what you actually needed.

**4** Not Knowing What is in Your Cupboard.  As you are making your list, review what you already have in stock. This is going to prevent you from buying duplicates and wasting a trip to the store. You really only need one bottle of hoisin sauce (unless you're trying to stock up). You don't want to waste your time and money running to the store when you already have the ingredient in your kitchen.

**5** Buying Too Much.  It won't help your budget to buy 50 cups of yogurt if you can only eat 5-10 before they expire. It is money down the drain.

**6** Not Using Your Leftovers. This mistake costs you  because you are wasting money cooking more than you can eat and your hard earned money has been transformed into wilted dollars at the bottom of the trash can. If you aren't eating leftovers, then cook less and save some money.

**7** Cooking and Shopping Without a Menu.  If you don't plan your meals, you're shopping with a random list. You'll be bringing home a mishmash of ingrendients that may or may not go together. It doesn't have to be a formal menu, but rather a good idea of what you want to be preparing for the week. Sometimes my menu looks like 'baked chicken, something green, etc.' Just make sure you have a menu that suits your level of detail.

**8** Ignoring the Deli.  Let's suppose you're taking a ham and cheese sandwich to work every day this week.  It may be worth it to just purchase five slices of your favorite cheese in the deli instead of 30 prewrapped slices in the dairy section. Do the math and see if this works for you.

Groceries takes a huge chunk of your budget. By avoiding these mistakes you will save yourself some time and enough money to lower your spending.

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