If you're serious about saving money, it's important to focus on costs you can control. Some items may claim a large slice of the budget pie, but they're either fixed or relatively inflexible (like mortgage and utility payments). You can layer up to reduce heating costs, but you can only go so far.
By contrast, grocery costs are often more controllable. Careful planning and a little discipline when cruising the supermarket aisles can generate hundreds of dollars in savings. Here are four suggestions for taming your grocery bill:
- Avoid prepackaged foods. Bagged salads may save a little time, but they often exceed the cost of individual ingredients. Instead of buying tuna helper, purchase the rice separately. Add your own spices and herbs. Make your own prepackaged helpers to save time and expense.
- Skip the impulse buys. Energy bars, bottles of soda and mini-sized toiletries are often impulse buys. That's why marketing departments place them at eye level near the checkout stand. If you really need one of these items, it's often more economical to buy it in full-sized packages — not just as one-offs.
- Stock up on coupons. Your mother and grandmother used them, and for good reason. Coupons can make a huge dent in your grocery bill. You can usually find coupons online and in store apps, as well as in your Sunday newspaper supplement.
- Restrain yourself at the warehouse store. Bulk-purchase stores offer great deals on everything from toilet paper to ground beef. But buying in bulk doesn't always translate to savings. Consider whether a better price is available at your local supermarket, especially when coupons are available. And don't fall into the trap of buying more than you really need, just because the unit price is cheap. Six months later, when you're throwing away an unused portion of food, you may wonder whether the bargain purchase was really a bargain.