How To Save Tons Of Money On Groceries 6 Easy Tips!

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I remember being a kid and my mom dragging me around town to 3 or 4 different stores hunting for a deal. She was so knowledgeable on what things cost and what was expensive, I can still envision her picking up an item at the store, furrowing her brown in complete disgust and saying, “oh no this I too expensive.” Or embarrassing me by haggling aggressively with the cashier, insisting that the orange juice was $.50 less.

Even now when she stays over to help me with my kids, the first thing she does is ask whether I need groceries. She definitely loves saving and helping others save. Considering groceries make up a major expense right after mortgage/rent and transit, saving groceries and saving money on food shopping is big deal. It’s a controllable expense that fluctuates.

So here are our best tips on saving:

Price comparison shopping

The key is to know what’s on the market that week. The best way to find out is through the circular or save on food weekly flyer. You usually get the weekly circular on Sunday in the Pennysaver. Nowadays most stores also post it online. She’d get CVS, Walgreens, and a bunch of local supermarket circulars and compare pricing. I was never really that great at this since you need a strong memory to write down the lowest price and where the item you want to buy is. She would compare 4-5 stores and just know which one had the best sale.

Her keychain is full of those shopper club cards. Her goal is to get those in store discounts. She signs up for all of them. So after combing through each and every circular, determining what to buy from each store and creating a list, she sets out to make her purchase. There’s no greater satisfaction than swiping your shopper club card at the register and seeing all the saving deducted from your total. She can easily save $10-$15 by comparison shopping. My mom even goes as far as returning items, if she finds out another place offers a better deal. It’s one of the best ways to save money grocery shopping.

Couponing

Couponing is another way to save on groceries if you’re able to do it consistently. The weekend Pennysaver would include the PG saver which included exclusive coupons from Proctor Gamble. She would collect all her manufacturers coupons and keep it in a binder organized in folders by expiration date and ALWAYS remember to use them before that date. You can find most of these coupons online too. Checkout these websites for grocery coupons, just click and print.

https://www.coupons.com

https://www.pgeveryday.com/offers

https://www.retailmenot.com

My mom also knew which stores would double coupons, meaning the actual store would match the coupons savings. That way she could double the savings. If you’re unsure of which stores do this just ask at the register.

Some pitfalls to couponing would be buying more than you need or buying things you didn’t need just because you had a free coupon. I remember eating the most random food because she had a coupon for it. It would sit in our refrigerator because no one wanted to eat it. Or we would have stocked up on certain items because she had several coupons for them and they go bad or expire before they’re used. You kind of have to keep an eye to avoid wastefulness and not get too coupon happy for things you don’t need.

Shop off brand

For things you don’t have coupons for, you can always shop off brand to save here and there. Things like cereal, ice-cream, household products etc. My Husband hates when I shop off brand. There’s always been an association that off brand items are lessor quality and that’s not necessarily true. A lot of them are of equal quality to the branded items. Really, they are the same but something like Frosted Flakes has gone through a lot of marketing to make it more profitable but also more expensive. And even if it is a little lesser quality, you generally get more quantity for what you pay for. Considering how much less off brand is, buying it consistently will save you a lot over time.

Bulk Shopping

I love Cosco and BJs. Buying in bulk is literally my favorite thing to do. I can get lost in those stores. For a small membership ($59) a year, you can buy wholesale size everything. I really don’t think you can ever have too many paper towels and toilet paper. Usually the wholesale shopper clubs also have the monthly coupon books, so between the coupons and the wholesale value, there’s a lot of savings to be had. One caveat is that you can easily find yourself overbuying or buying things you don’t need at these stores. Self control and budgeting is a must. Besides that, definitely a good option to shop non-perishables.

Subscription purchases

I love Amazon a little too much and am part of their prime membership like most people. Recently they launched a subscription service for repeat purchases. Certain household items you can buy in repeat with a 5% discount. If a shipping order has 5 items that you subscribed to, then you get 15% off. For baby items ??, you get 20% off if they are in a shipment with 5 other subscription. So I pretty much use this service for most of my household stuff, dish detergent, lotion, shaving cream, baby wipes etc. And considering that Amazon pricing is already competitive, these subscription prices are basically a steal. The subscription order comes once a month and you can adjust how often the products come, whether they come every month or every 2 months, etc. I absolutely love this service and would highly recommend it for moms unable to make it to Target or Cosco.  Click the link below to try a 30 day trial and get started on subscriptions.

Meal planning

This one is a huge way to save. And if you can’t do any of the other cost saving techniques, I would advise to follow this one. Because if you don’t plan your meals, you won’t have food and you’ll be more tempted to eat out. Eating out frequently becomes very expensive. Trust me. Meal planning is basically cooking in bulk once or twice a week so that there is always dinner to choose from. You might make a big crock pot meal and a big pasta meal.  You can store it in the fridge and then divide it into portions for dinner and lunch the rest of the week. Planning for your meals rather than cooking on the fly is much more productive and less frustrating than waiting until the last minute to cook when you’re already hungry. Perfect things to make in bulk: stews, chili, and pasta. You can roast a whole chicken and then pair it with rice and vegetables the rest of the week, then take the chicken scraps or dark meat at the end and turn it into a soup. You can make lentil soup or split pea soup in bulk. The possibilities are endless but planning your meals will save energy, time and money

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It’s amazing how much money you can save. Groceries make up 10% of a household’s expenses. Me and my husband we easily spend $7200-$8500 a year on groceries alone. It doesn’t feel like that much when your spending $60 here and there over the weeks, but we can definitely use the savings.

But you can also use saving time and investing in Instacart as an option for the time strapped mom. Couponing and comparison shopping is not for the weary but for those in a financial pinch, you can use these tips and watch the savings stack up.

Tags: Bulk buy food, bulk shopping online, where to buy in bulk, grocery coupons, discount codes, save a lot prices, how to extreme coupon.

Flashpass to Retirement: FiRE and LeanFiRe Strategies

“If only I didn’t have to go back to work.” I think this WAYY to often, especially on my Sundays before I have to clock back in for my work week.

My friends say, “Alex, I think it’s time for a new job. You’re burnt out. There’s another company that can be the right fit for you.”

But I think it’s much more than that. I think I just don’t like work. I don’t like feeling obligated to go and be somewhere at a certain time.  I don’t like commuting. I don’t like being on teams I didn’t choose for myself. I don’t like not being able to spend my time as I choose. And at the bottom of all those things I don’t like is the basis for a job. In college, I didn’t like not having money either so I went into the world and made a career for myself.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to grow up.  Like, having a job is just part of life. An absolute majority of our society NEEDS to work in order to put food on the table or clothes on their back. But then I started to wonder about an alternative. What if, I didn’t have to work? What would it take to live like that? Is it possible for me?

That’s when I came across FiRe or Financial Independence and Retire Early. I’ve been following Personal Finance on Reddit for a while and stumbled across the subreddit. It’s not just people retiring early at 50 instead of 63. It’s people retiring earlier and young at 35 and 40! I honestly can’t look through this subreddit without feeling a tinge of jealousy. I really want to be those people.  I want to know how to retire early. I also want to know how much I need to retire early.

The concept of FiRe goes beyond Personal Finance-which discusses getting out of debt, buying a house and paying for college.  As well as other difficult financial choices that neither high school or college ever prepared us for. FiRe is just specifically about retiring early and what it will take to get there and the kind of sacrifices you need to be willing to make.

Looking through the subreddit, I can’t help but feel…what’s the word for it? Ah yes, INADEQUATE. I feel inadequate because here are these 19 year old kids that are planning their hustle for the next 10-15 years to be totally independent off a job! At 19, I was buying Frappachino this and coach shoes that.  I was twiddling away my hard earned money because, at the time, I didn’t consider my minimum wage slave money to be……real money.  It was just money I was earning before I had a career; before I made a real salary.  Talk about regret over missed opportunity. Regardless, now that I’m aware this is possible maybe there’s time for me to turn things around.  I’m making 3-4X what I was making on minimum wage, so hopefully I didn’t miss too much of an opportunity.

Personal Finance and FiRe pretty much go hand in hand but FiRe is a long term game. Once you pay all of your debts and start really gaining wealth, FiRe commits to continuing to live a modest lifestyle until you reach your FiRe goal date. For people that are successful at FiRe, this means living at your parents home until you’re 30 or putting a $10K pay increase towards a portfolio option instead of taking a much needed vacation. It means couponing; living on a cash basis and giving up the convenience of the credit card.  It sounds so simple, “Just don’t spend money? I hate spending money, I only spend money when I need to!” But DO you? Do you REALLY??  Credit cards/subscriptions, Venmo are super convenient. For credit cards, any points you earn on the card are already spent on the overspending you did due to the “convenience.”  And we all like convenience. Retiring early means less convenience and less money spent on pleasures that we usually indulge in as a reward for hard work.

It takes an incredible amount of self control to retire early. Year after year, you’ll need to make sacrifices in your own indulgence, spending habits and choices. Vacation to Miami with friends? Nix that. Those really nice designer shoes? Nope. Weekly happy hour bar tabs with coworkers?  Um, no. Forget about the new car lease and living without roommates.  What you’re sacrificing in quality of life now, you’re planning to get back later when you’re able to retire 15-20 years early.

You’ll also need to be somewhat knowledgeable on tax laws. Should I invest in a 401K or IRA or both? What should I do after I max on my contributions? I’m about to surpass my income tax bracket, what can I do to minimize this years taxes? These are decisions you can’t just leave to the wind when planning an early retirement. Because year after year the wrong decision will cost you.

Once you start saving all this additional money, how do you optimize it to allow an early retirement? Well that’s entirely up to you. Some people invest in individual stocks, mutual funds or rental properties, or a mix of diversified options. The choice is yours depending on the skill set you have. Some people like to park their money and not think about it again until they need it, some like to be more involved in the trades, others like the idea of home equity. Some enjoy high risk, others low risk. To make FiRe truly effective you’ll need to take some risk to optimize your hard earned money.

Now let’s talk Lean FiRe. What is that? How could FiRe get any leaner, you’re already cutting out the pleasures of life! Oh it can get leaner.  Way leaner. Some of you may have read this article rolling your eyes, like “I don’t make that kind of money, Alex. I’m not overspending and there’s nowhere to cut.” Lean FiRe is early retirement for those who make an average or below average earnings. I swear, the Lean FiRe Reddit is no joke! They will make feel shame for your current lack of retirement plans. These are people making 40K -70k a year (or less!), and killing it with their retirement goals.

How do they do it? Incredible sacrifice and resourcefulness. These are people who really hate their job and are like, “Oh hell no! I can’t be doing this forever!”

I read about this one guy that ditched his car even though it was a 40 minute bike ride each way. Luckily he lived in a place where the weather was nice nearly all year round. He was saving money off of the weather! Other people are gardening and living off the literal fruits of their labor and land, thus cutting down food costs.

Then there are the people who are extreme in their housing solutions. One guy was homeless for a year! You heard that, homeless! Like, living in his car and showering at the gym while going to work every day and pretending he had a home. The moral of that story is that he really saved a lot at the time since housing is probably our largest expense. A lot of Lean FiRe people take to frugality and minimalistic living. There was one couple that bought a Tiny Home and lived in a trailer park. Their Tiny Home cost 15k and they bought it outright, then parked their home for a couple hundred dollars a month at a trailer park. They really didn’t need to earn so much money after that.

Theres also strategy to increase their income and put that money aside for retirement purposes only. These people were resourceful with their talents and skills.  They started blogging, and you-tubing to earn some extra cash. It’s a slow income stream but it’s cheap and easy to get into. Some opened etsy shops, making homemade soaps, balms, greeting cards, ornaments and whatnot. Some just did the good old fashioned way of getting a second job and driving Uber on the side.

Those Reddit subreddits really put me to shame. When I hear real life stories like that, I wonder WHY CAN’T I BE LIKE THAT?

Because I don’t want it enough. I’m not willing to sacrifice my daily pleasures or I do, and then I can’t stick with it long term. But practice makes perfect, and I’ll keep at it until I’m finally willing to make the sacrifice long term. In the meantime, I’m going to keep reading the inspirational stories FiRe and LeanFiRe have to share with me. Because with a little inspiration, who knows, maybe I’ll be able to retire early too.

Feel free to like, share and follow this post if you found it interesting.

Check out my other similar posts:

Why I Budget and How to Budget: Personal Finance In A Nutshell

and

Motivational Book Club: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey