Posts Tagged ‘save money’

32 Ways to Save on Groceries

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

A few weeks ago I surveyed my friends on Facebook to see how much money people were spending on average at the grocery store each week.  The wide range of responses was truly surprising, but what wasn’t surprising was that everyone seemed to really want to save more money.  I decided then that I’d compile a list of ways to save money on food (that don’t require starvation or extreme compromise on your favorite items).  I’ve come up with 32 ways to save money on food, so that even if you only implement some of them you’ll still enjoy significant savings.  If you have a successful strategy that you don’t see here, please let me know!

  1. Shop at stores that double coupons, and you’ll get double the savings.  Not sure which grocery stores in your area offer coupon doubling? Check out this comprehensive list.
  2. Search for high-value coupons and BOGO deals. You may not be able to double a high-value coupon, but you may be able to save more than you would have with a lesser coupon (even if it’s doubled).
  3. Only buy the freshest produce buying gently aged produce will ensure that it’ll spoil faster and go to waste.
  4. Don’t buy produce in bulk. Approximately 20-30% of produce purchases end up in the garbage – don’t let your purchases become another statistic.
  5. Check your eggs before purchasing them. Why pay money for an egg that is already cracked?
  6. Use cash instead of credit. If you’re trying to stick to a strict budget, shopping with cash is a great way to make sure you don’t overspend.
  7. Shop alone. Shopping with children or friends provides an easy way for unnecessary items to wind up in your cart.
  8. Don’t shop hungry. If you’re hungry in the grocery store chances are good that you’ll end up purchasing frivolous items in addition to your necessities.
  9. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Everyone likes to feel as though they got a deal, but if you don’t truly need something you can save money on food just by not buying it.  Of course, if you’ll be purchasing the item the next week you might as well take advantage of the sale…
  10. Be wary of expiration dates. When purchasing dairy products, the items in the front are generally the ones that expire first.  You’ll get a longer shelf life out of your purchase if you take the ones from the back, and reduce your chances of throwing away spoiled food.
  11. Shop by unit price, not by sale price.  There are times when economy-sized products are not the thriftiest purchase.  Compare the unit price of small packages vs. larger packages and determine which one is truly a better value.
  12. Look low.  In most stores, cheaper brands are located below eye-level, so don’t hesitate to look down when you’re shopping – you never know what deals you’ll find!
  13. Follow your list.  Enough said.
  14. Plan a menu in advance.  Sticking to your menu is a great way to stick to your list, which will save you money on food.
  15. Plan your menu based on sales.  This week’s menu may already be set, but you can plan next week’s meals based upon what’s on sale this week.  Not only can you take advantage of sales but you’ll be able to cross menu planning off your weekend to-do-list.
  16. Keep a small notebook with acceptable pricing in your purse. This way, you’ll be able to discern between good deals and those that aren’t truly worthwhile.
  17. Ask for a rain check. If a sale item is out of stock, don’t be embarrassed to ask the customer service counter to extend the deal when the shelves are restocked.
  18. Buy generic products. You probably won’t notice the difference between generic oil and brand name oil (or most other products), so why pay more for a brand name?
  19. Only buy produce that is in-season. Not only does produce taste best when it’s in season, but it’s also cheaper when it’s grown in abundance.
  20. Try doing only one monthly shopping. Reducing trips to the grocery store will allow you to save money on gas and to avoid impulsive purchases.  You may need to sneak into the store for some milk or eggs, but you may be able to find these items for a comparable price at your local convenience store or gas station – it’s definitely worth checking out.
  21. Comparison shop. If your neighborhood has multiple grocery stores, make sure you know how much your favorite items cost at each one, so you’ll know you’re getting the best deal.
  22. Don’t shop when you’re tired. You may forget items (and need to return needlessly) or throw things into your cart that you don’t really need or want.
  23. Scan your pantry before leaving the house. Knowing exactly what you’ve got at home will prevent you from throwing extra items into your cart “just in case.”
  24. Ask for a price match guarantee. If you find an item advertised elsewhere for less, ask your grocery store to match the price.  Not only will you save money on the item, but you’ll also save on gas since you won’t need to go to another store.
  25. Plant your own vegetable garden. Even if you’ve got a brown thumb like I do, don’t laugh – gardening is good for the environment, extremely economical and a great educational opportunity for children.  If you don’t have a garden plant some produce such as tomatoes and leafy greens indoors.  Just make sure they get enough sunlight (6-8 hours a day) and water.
  26. Check out dollar stores. You can often find convenient snacks and other foods at dollar stores for…you guessed it…only $1.
  27. Opt for do-it-yourself instead of pre-packaged foods. Why spend $1 on a single packaged cake when you can make several of your own mini-cakes for a similar price?
  28. Freeze your milk. Many consumers are surprised to learn that milk can survive in the freezer for up to 3 months.  If your milk is about to expire, freeze it and take it out when you’re ready to drink it quickly.
  29. Take advantage of freebies. It only takes a few moments to sign up for a freebie, but the savings can really add up.  Free diapers, for example, can save you 25 cents per sample, while a free deodorant can save you $1 over the life of the sample.  Subscribe to freebie newsletters (including mine!) and let the free stuff come right to your door.
  30. Check your Catalina coupons. Most shoppers ignore the coupons that come with their receipt, and shove them into their purse or a grocery bag.  You can save money on groceries by using these coupons, so make sure to treat them responsibly!
  31. Look for discounts at the meat counter. Oftentimes the deli counter will offer deals on meats that are about to reach their sell-by date.  As the butcher if he’s got any specials and throw the meat in the freezer either before or after you cook it.
  32. Review your final bill to check for pricing errors. Why pay more as a result of a cashier’s mistake or scanning error?

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My New Year's Resolution – Save More Money

Monday, December 28th, 2009

It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by and that 2010 is just around the corner. And while I run around taking advantage of the post-Christmas sales, I still can’t help but think about all of the things that I want to accomplish in the upcoming year (and, unfortunately, all those that I didn’t accomplish this year).  And if you’ve gotten to know me at all, you’re probably not surprised to learn that all of my New Year’s resolutions revolve around saving more money in the upcoming year (and hopefully the year after that…and the year after that…).

new-year-savingsIn my book, however, a New Year’s resolution is about setting specific goals for yourself- not just stating the obvious and hoping for the best.  “I’m going to lose 10 pounds this year” will likely more successful than just saying that you’re planning on losing weight this year.  For this reason, I always make New Year’s resolutions with concrete goals.  Here is my list for 2010:

-  Save more money on groceries by giving up my penchant for certain brands and buying what’s on sale- with coupons.  I’m curious to see if I’ll find new brands to favor, or if I’ll even mind that I gave up my favorite brands.  I look forward to sharing the process with you.

- I’m going to freeze my gym membership (yes, underneath my crisp white shirt are abs of steel) and begin working out at home.  I’ve even found the perfect place to purchase quality used exercise equipment.  I’m curious to see if this will affect my motivation, toning and overall exercise experience.  I could just change to a cheaper gym, but I’m looking to save more money- and I think this may be the way to do it.

- My final New Year’s resolution is to join an online DVD rental service instead of shelling out money for the movies.  I am hoping that I can enjoy more films for less money, since a night out at the movies is getting to be an expensive habit.  I’ll be able to save on refreshments, gas, (sometimes parking) and the actual price of the movie (which also often includes an additional ticket for a guest).

My goal is to save at least $160/month by making these (hopefully) minor changes to my lifestyle.  If I reach this goal, I will have saved at least $1920…not too bad considering the fact that I’ll still be doing all of the things I love (just a bit differently).  I plan on chronicling my journey throughout the year, to provide tips, tricks and inspirations to others who may also want to save more money.  If you have any other New Year’s resolution challenges that you plan on taking on, I’d love to hear them!

Happy Contemplating,


How to Save on Holiday Entertaining

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The shopping is nearly finished, you’ve started to wrap the presents, and you’ve even begun writing some of the cards.  But now that the dust has settled, you may be wondering how you’ll be able to afford holiday entertaining and the gifts that have already been purchased.  If you’re like most people, serving macaroni and cheese won’t be sufficiently sophisticated.  So how can you save on holiday entertaining without sacrificing on taste or ambiance?  Here are 7 ways to save- try one, and you’ll save a little.  Use them all, and you’ll be amazed at how much money stays in your pocket.

1- Host a pot luck dinner. If you’re hosting 20 of your closest family members and friends, there’s no reason not to ask them to pitch in.  Chances are good that your guests would otherwise spend money on a hostess gift.  Since you probably don’t need another vase or creamer pitcher, why not just ask your guests to bring a side dish or salad instead?  Getting everyone to help out will save you on holiday entertaining and also reduce the anxiety associated with preparing dinner for 20.

2- Ditch the expensive decorations. There’s absolutely no reason why you need to shell out money for fancy candles, table sparkles or other standard décor items.Ditch the expensive decorations  Instead, enlist your children to find pinecones, beautiful leaves or other free items to decorate the table with.  If you don’t mind going for a homemade look, encourage your children to create holiday art projects or hand-drawn cutouts to sprinkle across the table. If you don’t have young children, consider decorating the table in unexpected and inexpensive ways- scatter a handful of jelly beans across the table to create a splash of color, light up some tea lights or simply drag out your fancy napkin rings to create interest at the table.

3- Buy in bulk. Few would argue that buying in bulk will save you a bundle on your entertaining expenses.  And, if you play your cards right, you may even have extra paper goods or food items to use in the future.  (Just make sure that you don’t opt for the Santa plates or Rudolph napkins).  If you shop at wholesale clubs like Costco or BJ’s, be aware the not everything is cheaper in bulk.  Pay attention to prices on things like produce and dairy, as these items may actually be cheaper in other stores.

4- Go green. Using paper goods is one of the most obvious holiday entertaining ideas- but it’s also one of the most expensive.  If you’re inviting a manageable crowd, consider using real dishes, glasses and silverware, and breaking out the cloth napkins instead of paper ones.  Using real dishes and napkins will not only help you save, but will help save the environment as well.

5- Make recipes that require items you already own. There’s no better way to save money on holiday entertaining than to shop your own pantry closet.  Got two bags of noodles?  Why not serve sesame noodles?  Got some canned pumpkin?  A pumpkin pie it is!  Take a few moments to search your cupboards before heading to the store.  It will likely save you significantly on your holiday menu.

6- Cut back on the alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can be a significant part of the holiday entertaining bill.  In order to reduce these expenses, ask guests to bring their favorite drink (especially those who are not bringing any food), or offer mixers instead of straight-up alcohol.  It may require a bit more work to make the drink, but the result will be both fun and financially responsible.

7- Remember that less is more. Most people think that one of the underlying principles of holiday entertaining requires the host to prepare everything in their cookbook.  Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.  One of my favorite holiday entertaining ideas is that less is more.  Instead of cooking everything you’ve ever made, choose a few of your favorites.  Your guests will be satisfied and you’ll have done a fantastic job on a few select dishes, instead of serving too many lukewarm dishes because you didn’t have enough room in the oven.

Happy Entertaining,