Saving Money When Shopping – 12 Months to Financial Fitness
3 min. read
By: FCU Team
If you’ve been following along with our 12 Months to Financial Fitness challenge, you should already have a budget and a good idea of your spending. Shopping expenses are part of a budget that are tough to nail down. For September, we will look at how shopping habits can negatively affect your finances.
Shopping Expenses Aren’t Fixed Expenses
As opposed to the other important expenses in your life like a mortgage or phone bill, shopping costs are not fixed. They vary month-to-month depending on the time of year or your needs. We also can’t ignore impulse purchases, as an attractive sale is the enemy of the budget conscious shopper! With all that in mind, it’s hard to get a handle on exactly how much you spend while shopping, but there are a few things you can do to save money.
Reduce Your Grocery Bill
It may seem difficult to reduce your spend on groceries each month since you need to eat, right? There are good ways to save a few bucks each visit to the supermarket that do add up. This is especially needed as inflation rises and increases prices in grocery stores.
Purchasing store brand instead of name brand, using coupons for items you buy often and coming into the store with a pre-made list are all great strategies you can employ to see a marked improvement on your bill. We also suggest you visit the store with a full stomach! Nothing curbs impulse food purchases like a full belly.
Eat at Home
Keeping on with the food theme, eating at home can be healthier and cheaper than ordering take out or visiting your favorite local spot. The convenience of those options can’t be ignored, but the savings from lowering your out-of-home food bill can’t be either! Cooking at home is a discipline that must be learned and practiced often to become a habit. As you get more used to cooking, you can move into larger scale food preparation and meal planning, meaning you can eat for several days while only having cooked once.
Switch Where You Shop
From supermarkets to clothing stores, locations that sell the same items will have different prices and options. Switching to a cheaper store can alleviate some costs associated with shopping. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter where you shop, just where you get the best bang for your buck.
A Word About Online Shopping
We would be remiss to not mention the most tempting shopping type of all: online shopping! With just a few clicks, you can have a cart full of items delivered to your home in just a day or two. While an alluring prospect, convenience can often be your wallet's enemy; save a few bucks and curb the habit if you've traditionally been a frequent online shopper.
Other Super Saver Shopping Tips
Set a budget before you leave home on a shopping trip. Doesn’t matter if you’re buying some new clothes or restocking your pantry, a budget helps to establish the absolute limit you’re willing to spend. If you’re trying to establish a baseline budget, keep track of spending for a month or two and average out how much you spend on each category. You can make changes as needed and adjust every few months as your financial situation changes.
Historical data overall can aid in identifying problem areas. Check your statements for the year so far and see if you can find any outliers in your spending or trends. It takes time, but the rewards are absolutely well worth the time spent. Beyond that, always look forward. If you have anniversaries, birthdays or the dreaded holiday season (financially speaking) coming up, prepare for spending well in advance!