Saving money on groceries is easier said than done, as grocery stores have an uncanny ability to trick us into spending more than we need to.
Danielle Wagasky, who stretched $14,000 a year to cover her family’s needs for five years, knows from firsthand experience.
After adding up all of her purchases one month, she was shocked to find out that she was spending $800 on groceries for a Nevada-based family of four, she writes in her book “Living a Beautiful Life on Less.”
This wake-up call inspired her to get smart about grocery shopping, and she managed to cut her expenses in half.
We asked Wagasky to share her top two tips for saving at the grocery store: “First, go shopping on a full tummy, and second, go with your calculator in hand,” she told us.
While seemingly harmless, shopping on an empty stomach but can be an expensive habit.
Everything — particularly junk food — starts to look delicious, and without realizing it, you’re tossing all sorts of unnecessary items into your cart, she explains: “If you go hungry, you are just begging to have a cart full of guilty-pleasure foods. You can’t make a week’s worth of meals out of those ingredients, but you can wreck your budget by purchasing them when you don’t need them and can’t afford them.”
Try eating a healthy snack before heading to the store so your cravings for processed, packaged foods aren’t out of control. Your budget — and waistline — will thank you.
Wagasky’s next trick, bringing along a calculator, doesn’t require much effort at all. Most smartphones have a built-in calculator; next time you’re shopping, try inputting each item that goes into your cart.
This strategy does more than give you a concrete number; it changes your spending habits, Wagasky explains. “You are more aware of how much each item is adding up. You suddenly weigh the options a bit more with name brand versus generic. You think twice about adding all that candy into the cart just because it looks good. It makes you more conscious of what you are tossing in.”