Alexander Pope’s famous quote “To err is human” holds true for our many species-driven mistakes. However, when we make a money mistake it seems to sting and leave us feeling shame and remorse.
Although money mistakes are as common as the wind blowing the snow, many money mistakes have easy fixes that will keep your money from blowing away from your bank account and wallet. As the snow settles, your financial situation can also settle. In fact, a key piece of our financial happiness is security.
Nonetheless, I’ve made a few money mistakes myself; however, with some careful planning, I was able to bring my finances back into check and you can too!
It always worries me when I see people spending money they do not have. What’s worse is having no budget at all and not taking the time to plan. In the realm of financial health, planning is key.
Hi, I’m Sarah and my husband and I have paid down over $100,000 worth of debt combined. We are close to being totally debt-free when we pay off our mortgage this year (2021). Read more about our story here.
If there is one trick that has helped us pay down debt and stay out of debt, it is tracking our spending.
Have you ever considered using a spending journal? You may be thinking, “Why would I want to add one more thing to my “To Do” list?”
Yet, tracking your spending could be the one aspect of your budget you are missing to put the “debt-free” back into your life. Nonetheless, journals come to mind when writing about feelings and yes, they are more commonly used for this type of writing, yet isn’t your money journey just as important as your emotional journey? These two aspects of life are intertwined immensely.
Writing down what you spend will give you a clear picture of where your money is going and help you solve your debt puzzle. I suggest making this the first step to beginning your budget and obtaining financial freedom.
What is a Spending Journal?
Spending Journal: A written journal of all the money you have spent that week or month. I recommend tracking your spending for at least a week, but a month would be better and will give you a clear picture of how you spend. Moreover, once you have this in place you can begin to trim the fat off of your budget and use the extra money to pay down debt or save for an emergency fund or retirement.
In today’s post, we are going to be discussing how to slash your grocery bill in seven steps. Cutting food costs may sound difficult, but with these tips, you will see it can be as simple as staying organized and paying attention to the stores you shop. To find out more, keep reading…
In today’s world, it is hard to get by with the mess of clutter that envelopes our heads. Everywhere you look there is a different company trying to advertise something. Most people are walking around 24/7 with “clutter-head” and this clutter from billboards, television, social media, and even e-mail ads are literally clogging up productivity and leaving us feeling overwhelmed.
If we are being honest, as this clutter seeps in, it is easy to go off-budget. But with some careful planning, we can learn to slash our grocery bill and get things back on track.
Oftentimes, the noise and the clutter causes frustration. And if we are looking for an organizational system with bills, it is best to try to organize our lives as well. Think about the last time you wasted an hour searching for your keys in a messy house. This is super frustrating and can happen to anyone, but if we have systems in place for our bills, budget, home organization, and time management, we can simplify many things in our life and learn to save money on bills including food. So let’s take a look at how you can save more money on food and keep track of sales to maximize your food budget.
Our goal here is to dramatically slash our grocery bill. What would you do if you had extra money in your budget? Above all, you could pay down debt and create a workable budget.
Surveying people in a Frugal Living group I belong to, I found the biggest frustration with budgeting is not having any money left over when the bills are paid. I’m here to tell you, you can find extra money with some organization and planning before grocery shopping each week.
Looking for a great way to earn cash back on groceries? Try Ibotta and get paid to shop:
How to Slash Your Grocery Bill
In today’s post, we are going to discuss how to slash your grocery bill. You can first take a look at where your money is going, so you can create a budget for your food.
Hence, when you start organizing your world – house, car, bill payment, budgeting, money – you will be able to see where the money is going and if you are behind, you can use savings to help you catch up. The good news is, food is one of the easiest ways to cut costs. You can then create a workable plan and begin to slash your grocery bill drastically.
Finally, the leftover money you have saved from your grocery bill will be well spent on repaying debt and/or saving for an emergency fund or retirement.
Careful planning and a bit of work are key, but you will be on track to obtaining your money goals.
Learn how to slash your grocery bill by using these seven tips. The steps are discussed in detail below.
Shop sale cycles
Pay attention to product placement
Stick to a list
Buy in bulk
Use rebate apps like Ibotta
Slash Your Grocery Bill – Seven Easy Tips
Tip #1 – Organization
Like most aspects of life, it is best to stay organized. As I talked about the clutter above, an organizational system is a must in today’s world and will play an intricate role in staying on budget. Just like you are budgeting your money, try budgeting a little time to set up your meal planning and grocery list because taking a little time to plan will save you time in the long run.
Don’t fall into the time-wasting trap. For instance, running back to the store every other day is a time-waster. Another time-waster: thinking of something to make for dinner. Also, fiddling through coupons at the store when you do not prepare your coupon plan will cause stress and waste more time. “Work smarter, not harder,” my friends. In order to avoid these time-wasting mishaps, Therefore, I suggest meal planning and organizing your coupons.
Organize with Meal Prep
Personally, I like to do my meal planning at the beginning of the month. (Here is one of my most popular posts with a meal plan example.) My calendar is essential because I use it to plan meals and mark dates I may have a party to attend or a cook-free night, like a Holiday at a family member’s house. Then I include those days on my meal plan so I do not buy extra food that may go to waste.
Also, I recommend keeping your coupons organized, which will be discussed further in the post. Target’s dollar bin is a great place to shop for a couponing organizer. A great way to organize coupons is by areas of the store, i.e. Produce, meat, cereals, etc. When I pick up an item, I place my coupon in the front of my organizer so I am ready when it is time to check-out.
No doubt, it helps to set aside time to find coupons and organize coupons so you are ready for your shopping trip. Here is an example of time-budgeting to stay organized:
9-9:30 Match coupon deals to stores (Use coupon bloggers to save time) 9:30-10 Create a meal plan for the month using items that are on sale (Example of a meal plan) 10-11 Go grocery shopping 11-11:15 Organize rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 (Do this before you put away your groceries – more on this topic below)
You have now spent 2-2 1/2 hours of your day planning for an entire month’s worth of groceries. Create a time frame that works for your schedule and when you budget your time, you will not feel guilty for being unproductive. I usually grocery shop twice a month (If you stay out of the store, you have fewer impulse buys).
Tip: Meal plan for two weeks and double your plan for an entire month’s worth.
Ask your local manager how often sales cycles occur for items you often buy or start keeping track on your phone calendar. Stock up when an item is on sale. For example, cereal is a staple at our house. A good deal for cereal would be $2 or below per box. When this sale happens we buy enough to last until the next sale. Most store sale cycles are between 6-8 weeks. Pay attention to how much you go through in a sale cycle. Of course, it is best to buy more the first time around so you don’t end up running back to the store to buy your item at full price.
On the other hand, it may sound counterproductive to spend more money stocking up, but once you build up your stockpile for the next 6-8 weeks you can cut those items from your next shopping trip.
Tip #3 – Placement of grocery
First and foremost, one secret many grocery stores don’t want us to know is they strategically place items to tempt you to buy more. I guess it’s not so much a secret anymore because I saw it in the news last week! However, knowing this will help you avoid falling for the marketing trick. Brands actually pay a fee for premium placement at eye level or lower level where kids will see sugary cereals and treats. Additionally, it is not a coincidence you have to walk to the back of the store to grab milk (picking up five other items on the way.) Then you have to walk to the other side of the store for meat or bread. Accordingly, the rotisserie chicken is next to the register where you can capture the smell after building up an appetite while grocery shopping and is easy to grab on your way out.
More Grocery Money Saving Tips
Tip #4 – Stick to a list
Honestly, I’ve said this before in my blog posts but making a list and sticking to it can save you tons of money! Nonetheless, it is easy to grab items off the shelves if you are in a hurry or hungry, so use your time budget as mentioned above. Stick to your list as much as possible, but give yourself a $5-10 allotment of wiggle room for a sale or item you cannot pass up. In this way, you do not feel restricted and if you do not spend this money you can carry it over to the next week.
Tip #5 – Buy in bulk on sale
Have you considered buying in bulk? Many times the price per item is much cheaper. Not to mention, some of the bulk stores like Costco have great deals on food bought in a larger amount. Furthermore, I find snacks such as Skinny Pop, applesauce pouches, and bulk water are much cheaper at Costco. Yes, you can shop at Costco even if you do not have a membership. Buy a Costco gift card and you will be able to use it. Find discount gift cards at cardpool.com.
Remember, you really need to stick to your list at big stores like Costco because it is easy to go overboard. All of the free samples are hard to pass up buying after trying. Yet, if you can stick to your list when buying in bulk will save you in the long-run. Target even offers bulk items for a discount.
Have you considered buying a whole chicken and using it for a few meals? You could use it as a main course and then make homemade chicken noodle soup to have for the next few nights. Again, shop the sales and stock up on items like this that can be frozen and will keep.
Tip #6 – Rebate Apps
There are several rebate apps out there but my three favorites are Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Ebates (more for shopping online).
This is an amazing rebate app that offers you money back for submitting your grocery receipt. For more about Ibotta read here: Ibotta
To sign up and receive a $10 bonus click here: Ibotta
This app is similar to Ibotta. Find items on the list of rebates and upload your receipt after shopping.
This app is like Ibotta in that you scan your receipts. So why not use Ibotta and check out 51? One perk to Checkout 51 is that your items don’t have to be store-specific. You can use a receipt from any store, even your local grocery store.
Sign up and start earning money back on your groceries.
Rakuten is also amazing but it is for online shopping. If you buy your groceries through an online store such as Amazon.com, it is definitely worth checking out. Read a review here: Rakuten (Formerly Ebates Review)
To sign up and receive a $10 bonus click the button below:
Couponing – This could be an entire post but here are the basics:
Tip #7 – Coupon
Coupons are usually the first money-saving trick we think about when reducing our grocery bills. However, one complaint I hear is that most coupons are for unhealthy foods. Yes, Sunday paper coupon inserts are known for processed food coupons. Yet, in today’s world, you do not have to rely on the Sunday paper for all of your coupon needs. You can find a gold mine of coupons online. Check out my favorite site Coupons.com and some others are Mambo Sprouts (mostly healthy food coupons), and Redplum.com. Also, Target even has its own online coupon page.
Yet, if you are searching for household products and personal care products such as deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, the Sunday paper will be your best friend. The Sunday paper includes coupons from Red Plum, P & G, and Smart Source.
My best tips for these products are to shop drugstores and learn how to coupon at your favorite. Personally, I love CVS because of their Extra Bucks system and if you are interested, you can read more about it here. Also, I like Walgreens’ program. However, I do not go to drugstores every week because I do not have the time, but at least once a month I replenish my stockpile of items listed above.
Target has Great Personal Care Sales
Additionally, Target has amazing personal care sales every 6-8 weeks. They offer a coupon, buy $20 worth of personal care items and receive a $5 gift card. Not to mention, you can use manufacturer coupons and Cartwheel and still receive your gift card. (Read more about how to shop Target sales here.) In fact, I buy TRESemme hairspray, Dove soap, and Pantene conditioner for 50-70% off retail.
Check out popular coupons on Coupons.com here:
Don’t overspend using coupons
Literally, I could do an entire post about couponing, and one day I will, but for now, let’s focus on the basics. Generally, one important goal I recommend is to use coupons for products you already buy and stock up when you find match-ups with your local stores’ sales. There are thousands of bloggers out there that do the coupon match-ups for you, so save time and check them out. My favorite is The Krazy Coupon Lady but there are thousands to choose from. You can also do this yourself by using local flyers but this will take more of your time.
Plan, plan, plan…This will make your coupon goals easier to meet. If you randomly coupon, you will not save much and may even end up spending more, buying items you will not use.
You Might Make a Coupon Mistake and That’s Okay
Every couponer’s plan at some point has a glitch and that is okay! It is easier to cut your losses than argue with a manager for twenty minutes about something you should have gotten free (and better ways to spend your time), but know that even the best planner, at times has something on the plan that doesn’t work out. Just do the best you can and study the store’s couponing policy so you don’t end up overspending.
I love the saying, “Everything in Moderation! Even couponing!” You can really get burnt out on couponing if you do not budget your time wisely and stay organized. Also, I recommend a coupon box and a plastic coupon holder you can take to the store with the coupons you plan on using. In short, find a system that works for you. Try transferring the coupon to the front of your envelope as soon as you put the product in the cart. This seems to keep the checking out transition easier because I have a stack of coupons to hand the cashier and I like to see if the computer is accepting them. To each their own, but I rarely use more than ten coupons in a single transaction. Although I love coupons, I prefer my coupon rebate apps and Target Cartwheel.
Side Note: One of my pet peeves is when the store shelves are cleared out of a discount item. Hey extreme couponers, leave some for the rest of us. I usually only buy up to five of one product at the same time because I don’t have room to store a large stockpile and I know, these items will go on sale again in six to eight weeks.
Note: I can’t say it enough. If you want to coupon, budget your time and stay organized.
7 Steps to Slash Your Grocery Bill Final Thoughts:
To sum up, if you are looking to slash your grocery bill, you have come to the right place. The seven tips listed above are my foolproof methods to helping you save. Again, start by eliminating clutter in your life before you change your budget. Yet, food is a basic need in your budget, but it is easy to cut spending in this category. Remember to shop sales cycles and pay attention to product placement. Be like Santa, make your list, and check it twice. Buy in bulk to save money and stay organized with your time and your couponing. Similarly, use rebate apps when you return from your shopping trip. Implement these strategies and your will dramatically slash your grocery bill.
You can now put that extra money into a savings account to pay off debt or save for an emergency fund. Take baby steps to slash your grocery bill and reverse the clutter in your budget and in your life. Until next time…
A friend of mine is looking to go to the Barr after having her baby… No, not the bar you are thinking of! Barr class to workout… Now you see where I’m going with this. Knowing I’m into frugal fashion and running, she texted me to find out where I shop for my frugal workout gear! I immediately gave her a list of several places that have always worked out (pun intended) for me!
Most women want to look cute while working out but if you are on a budget, you aren’t going to buy Lulu Lemon, Athleta, and Victoria’s Secret workout gear. Yet, there are ways to look pretty while you are sweatin’ to the oldies. (Sorry, bad old-school workout joke!) You just have to know where to look.
Frugal workout gear is easy to come by if you use my shopping tips listed below. The best part is the list offers good quality workout gear, so you won’t be literally running back to the store to buy more. So keep up your shopping pace as you read through my list and get ready to look cute while getting into shape this year!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
This is my third round of bi-weekly dinner meal planning! However, this time it comes with a twist! Why? A fellow frugal friend needed help. She had to find a way to feed herself and her husband for two weeks, but the kicker was she only had $35 for food. Realizing the need for low-cost meal planning, my “$40 Meal Planning Your Family Will Love” was born.
Inspired by her situation, I wondered how many others out there could use low-cost meal planning. So my challenge for this round is to keep your grocery bill around $40. Hopefully, you have some items on hand and you will spend even less, but if you do not, you will come out right around $41.
This list is a dinner meal plan so let’s see how well we can do. Be sure to read until the end and click the printable grocery list to save you time and money! My shopping for this meal plan was mostly done at Kroger.
Keep in mind, if you are saving money on your groceries, you will be able to put money away for other important areas of your budget such as an emergency fund, savings account, or retirement fund.
Cutting your food costs is one of the easiest ways to put extra money in your pocket. Not to mention, my $40 meal plan will save your sanity because you will not be rushing around your kitchen, like a crazy person, trying to throw something together when your kids are hungry. This is not a fun situation for anyone!