Ducks 'n a Row: Save Money -- Conquer the Grocery Jungle

26 May 2015

Save Money -- Conquer the Grocery Jungle

Having a serious challenge trying to feed your family on your current income? You've stopped eating out, saved gas by only going to essential places and reduced your on-the-road coffee purchases to almost never. You are economizing all over the place and still your pocketbook is screaming!

Whatever the cause of your current situation, be encouraged that this is just a season. Nothing stays the same. Transitions come and go. This time of personal economic crisis is not forever. It may feel like it is, but it's not!

So, why not take charge of your thoughts and adopt a new attitude! This crisis is not going to break you but make you. It will be your training ground in preparation for better times to come.

Where to start? By conquering the one jungle that everyone must contend with on a recurring basis: the grocery store! How can you enjoy grocery shopping with such restrictions? How can you do more with so little? Think like a millionaire!

If it seems to be a little kooky to compare grocery shopping and a millionaire mentality, think again. Authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko report in their best seller "The Millionaire Next Door" that most millionaires got there by a slow, methodical approach to living. They didn't get a windfall and go right out to buy a yacht. No, they worked hard, pinched pennies, seldom bought on credit and said "no" to some "today-things" with a purpose in mind. They were focused and meticulously aware of where every dime was being spent. Who would have thought that this is what it takes to become a millionaire.

So, you're financially caught between a rock and a hard place. Welcome to your training ground. How do you get this vision of a "millionaire" inside? Start simple. Adopt a great attitude and say "This is going to be fun!". Painful but FUN! Put purpose into it. You are going to stretch ridiculously low dollars and triumph in providing another week of delicacies for your family that will make life seem not-so-bad!

Now what? Start with a plan!

1. Know what you have to work with. Besides paying necessary bills for the week, what will be available to take to the grocery store?

2. Consider what has to be accomplished with this week's pay. Does that money include your gas money? Unless you work from home, you'd better count that in. Determine what portion can be spent on food.

3. What are THIS week's shopping essentials? Can that shampoo stretch another week? What are you going to make for your meals? Select recipes that your family likes, so that they are happy and nothing is wasted, but steer clear of anything that requires the purchase of ingredients that will sit on the shelf for months. (If it calls for ketchup, buy it. Ketchup you'll use! If it requires tarragon and you don't have any, you may want to save that recipe for another time. Tarragon can be pricey and you won't use it often enough.)

4. Where to shop? Select stores that are pleasant to be in but offer good pricing, as well. Stores like that do exist. You can supplement by going to budget grocery outlets to stock up on staples like condiments, bread and canned goods. Visit public markets where produce is fresh from the farm to you. Arrive just as the vendors are packing up for the day and you can pick up great deals at a fraction of their already low price.

5. Don't forget the meat! Meats and poultry are a real budget-cruncher but they are such an important dietary basic. You stay full longer on protein. It gives you energy and helps you think. Eat nothing but low-priced carbs and, after a while, you won't feel well and you'll be hungry all the time. The best way to buy meat is to buy it in bulk and break it into smaller portions to freeze when you get home.

6. Don't waste your resources. Is today's purchase necessary for this week's meals? Can it wait a little while? When you do buy it, will it spoil if not consumed right away? Make sure you put it to use while it's fresh.

7. Make a precise list. No guess work. If you have a computer, put your list on an Excel spreadsheet with estimated prices. Based on your experience, predict the cost of each item and pad it just a little bit. (If you think it will cost $2.25 then write down $2.50 just in case there is a price hike.)
If your total exceeds the money you have to spend, cross out items you will skip this time around. Do not despair! It may hurt for the moment but remember, THIS IS JUST A SEASON! Things will get better and you are going to get through this. And, think of how smart you're getting. You are becoming a pro!  

8. Bring coupons but buy generic or store brands when it's a better deal. Even with coupons, buying store brand items may be a smarter move.
So, that's a beginner lesson at how the millionaire mentality can help you in tough times. Put it to work for you and have fun thinking of new ways to beat the system! Better times are coming.

9. Join Websites.  There are some great websites that keep up with the latest deals at the grocery stores as well as retail and discount stores. When you find a site that meets your needs, subscribe to their posts by email or RSS feed to find out the latest, soon as it posts. 

Great Websites for Savings Tips:

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Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase from Amazon through Ducks n a Row will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "thank you!" ... Sinea
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