The first step to cutting back on your spending is planning. Don’t just run into the store without a plan, on the spur of the moment. Set aside a time for shopping and make a list of what you need. Plan your meals for a week or even a month in advance to know what will be needed. Don’t forget about paper products, cleaners, snacks, and lunches for school or work. Check sales ads for the best days to shop and where the best prices are to be found. Make this a family plan so everyone knows there will only be one shopping day and to plan for it. Not only will this save on groceries but you will save on gas as well.
Only buy those things that will be used. It does no good to buy that large box of cereal that no one will want or that will only go bad before being finished. If you buy in bulk be sure you have room for those 20 rolls of paper towels or that you will really use those 10 cans of car wax. Learn how to mathmatically figure unit prices so you can compare items that come in different sizes. Check expiration dates and only buy perishables that will be used before going bad. If you have a deep freeze, then you can buy up meats and frozen goods when they are on sale and even freeze vegetables when they are in season and cheaper. Look for seasonal sales on items like turkey and ham around the holidays and cleaners and paper goods in the spring.
Use coupons and store cards. Coupons can really help cut the cost of items and if used wisely will save you money. Check for them in Sunday newspapers, store ads, magazines, and online. Keep them organized and watch those expiration dates. Don’t just buy something because you have a coupon for it though, do you need it, will it be used, and is it still the best buy, are questions to ask. Store cards are usually free and are needed to get some store markdowns. Don’t go in for store credit card though, because they often have high rates and may have fees. If you are going to buy on credit use a card that gives you a percentage back and pay it off every month.
In the store, look for bargains that are unadvertized. Check out store brands. They are often cheaper, so try them and see if you like them. Ask the store if they will match prices and get rainchecks for items they are out of. Be sure to check out the lower shelves. Lesser know manufacturer’s products are often placed there because they don’t pay as much for product placement on the higher shelves. Be careful of buy one, get one sales. Carry a calculator and again check unit prices to see if it is really a good deal. Don’t shop when you are hungery, or with the kids if you can help it. Do go shopping with a friend. You can help each other watch for sales, compare prices and brands, swap coupons, share in bulk buys, and save on gas together.