How often do you grocery shop? Do you have a strategy or do you just wing it?
Gary Foreman of the money-saving Bradenton-based website www.thedollarstretcher.com says a little pre-planning and discipline can go a long way to saving you green at the grocery store.
He says most families spend 15% of their take home pay on groceries but having a list is essential. And one step better than a list is a price book. "it gives them the same power that a professional buyer has," says Foreman.
"Basically, it's a listing, when you go in the grocery store of the items you buy most often."
You can download price book templates on line for free.
Then, when you find a good price on one of the items in your book, jot down the store, the date and the price.
Paying attention to the price per unit on store tags is another key, according to Foreman. That's how you can determine whether buying the small, medium or large size of something will save you the most money.
And when it comes to coupons, Foreman knows not everyone is going to religiously make the effort. "You see the shows on TV where somebody buys $4,000 worth of groceries for 79 cents and they've done an amazing job but most of us don't want to live that way."
Good advice is to only use a coupon if you were planning to buy the product any way. Coupons typically bring down the price of a nationally advertised brand to that of a generic. Which is why buying generic store brands, when possible, can save you a lot.
Then there is the cost of convenience. Do you buy who carrots or pre-cut carrots? Foreman factors the cost of paying for pre-cut carrots at about $27 hour. "Unless you're a highly paid worker, you're wise to cut and peel those carrots yourself at home."
Foreman also recommends you "shop around the perimeter of the store." The more processed an item is, typically the more expensive it is. So buying fresh will save you money.
And when it comes to those tempting impulse buys, Foreman suggest you allow yourself one each trip, so you don't feel you're being denied.
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