• Three Ways to Overcome Grocery Store Overspending

    groceries

    How many times have you gone to the grocery store for bread and milk only to come out with 20 items? According to a 2009 Census report, most Americans overspend by shelling out $1.33 for every $1 they earn. Where does that extra 33 cents come from? Credit cards or savings. Every time you overspend, you risk increasing your debt and decreasing your quality of life. But since overspending isn’t a requirement for US citizenship, why not overcome it at the grocery store in three easy steps.

    Make a Budget

    Don’t just toss $100 a week into the grocery pot and hope you have enough left over for bills. Make a budget that tells you how much money you can spend on groceries every month and become more thoughtful about your spending while avoiding overspending.

    Start by tracking every penny you spend on every household expense for one month. Use that data to figure out how much you’re spending on bills, debt repayment, savings, food, transportation, clothes, entertainment and other expenses.

    Now, figure out how much money you need to cover each category. Obviously, if you can’t pay your bills, buy enough food or put gas in your car, you need to cut expenses. Maybe you can downgrade your cellphone or TV service, ride the bus more often to work or prepare most meals at home.

    Finally, use the envelope system. Label envelopes with your household’s spending categories, such as rent, utilities, transportation and groceries. Place the designated amount into each envelope as you get paid. For instance, if you have $320 a month budgeted for groceries, place $80 from every paycheck into the grocery envelope. When you visit the grocery store and walk down the aisles, track the total cost of the items you place in your cart. When you reach your $80 weekly limit, check out or figure out what you can return to the shelf.

    Write a List

    Those brownies at the grocery store entrance look good, and the yogurt’s on sale — but are these items on your list? If not, don’t put them in your cart. Your list will keep you on track to spend within your means.

    To make your list, start with a weekly menu. Consider the food you have in your pantry, and browse the grocery store ads online or in the Sunday newspaper. Look for deals that you can plan meals around, such as meat sales, canned good bargains or produce discounts. Remember to check recipes and add ingredients to your list so that you have everything you need for each meal.

    Then, go to the grocery store with tunnel vision. You are only buying what’s on your list. If you see something you really want, write it down and consider getting it if you have money left over or saving it for next week’s list. With discipline, you can write and stick to a grocery list.

    Go Generic

    Brand name items sit at eye level and are often the first thing you see. They typically include a high price tag, though. Check out generic brands to save money. The quality of generic products is sometimes higher than that of brand names, and you’ll notice a huge savings on your grocery bill.

    So, are you ready to overcome your overspending on groceries? Then follow these steps and enjoy feeding your family without breaking your budget.

    By Jen T., Free Stuff Finder Contributor

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