Do you have a family budget? You’re ahead of a lot of Canadian families. According to this Ipsos survey, three in 10 Canadians say that they’ve never created a budget for themselves or their household.
If you have a family budget, the biggest spending category after mortgage/rent and transportation for most families is groceries. We all need to eat. There’s no debate about that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money off your grocery bill. While I was paying down my mortgage in three years by age 30, I managed to spend about $100 a month on groceries. I’m not saying you have to follow on my footsteps, but it just goes to show you that there are plenty of ways to save.
Here are four simple ways to make your grocery budget work double time, so you don’t have to.
Creating a Shopping List
You’d think this would be simple enough. You should create a shopping list before heading to the supermarket, but you’d be surprised to know how many of us fail to do this simple thing. Not only does creating a shopping list save money, it saves time. It saves money because you don’t end up buying perishable food, such as romaine lettuce, that you already have sitting in your fridge. It saves you time because you know exactly what you need to buy. You can quickly head to those aisles and leave, avoiding any temptation to spend on food that you don’t need.
Shopping at Discount Supermarkets
Instead of shopping at premium supermarkets, have you ever considered shopping at a discount chain? I’ve heard the argument that the produce and meat aren’t as good quality at the discount stores versus its premium counterpart. While it is true that the discount stores don’t usually have as good a selection as the premium stores, a box of cereal is a box of cereal. What that means is whether you buy a box of Cheerios from a premium or discount store; essentially, it’s the same box. The only difference is that you’re spending $1 or $2 more for the exact same thing at the premium store.
If you want to buy some items at a premium store that’s fine, but for a quick trip to the discount store for your other items, you can save yourself some decent money.
Buying in Bulk and on Sale
When it comes to non-perishable goods, you can save a lot of money by stocking up. When a staple like spaghetti or macaroni and cheese is on sale, load up. By buying enough to last you until the next sale, you’ll never have to pay full price for anything.
Just be careful with expiry dates and don’t go overboard. You won’t save any money if you end up throwing out half the jars of peanut butter you bought on sale because they went past their expiry date before you could use them up.
Buying in Season
You can really save yourself a lot of money by buying produce when it’s in season. I love cherries as much as the next person, but it’s going to cost you a mint if you buy cherries during the wintertime. I’ve seen the price at $10 per pound or higher sometimes. I know it may be tough, but by skipping cherries and watermelon during the wintertime when they’re most expensive and saving them until the summertime, you can trim your grocery budget considerably.
These are just four of the simple ways to save money on your grocery bill. By following one or all of them, you should have no problem saving yourself at least $25 or $50 a month on groceries. With that extra cash flow, you can put it to good use like paying down debt.
About the Author
Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Finance Journalist, Money Coach and Speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and MoneySense. Connect with Sean on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.