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While finishing off writing 10 tools to help you get & stay debt free I began thinking of other areas of my life where I use tools to save money. The first area that popped into my mind was the tools I use at the grocery store to help me save money on groceries.
My toolbox for grocery savings has changed a bit over my 20 years as a homemaker but a lot of it has stayed the same.
10 Tools Thrifty People Use To Save Money On Groceries
1. A budget
The best way to save money is to set a limit on how much you can spend. Without a price limit it is extremely hard to stay serious about trying to save money.
If you haven’t yet set a grocery budget and are wondering where to even begin, see if you can find out what you are currently spending on groceries. Dig through your receipts and bank statements.
Start with that as your starting point and then challenge yourself to lower it by $5 a week. Keep it at that level again and then reduce it by another $5 a week. Repeat until you have gotten to the point where you simple can’t keep that budget even with shopping like a thrifty ninja. At that point bump it up $5 and keep it there. (changing it when either prices go up or families needs change; as in your children become teenagers with stomachs that pack away food at an alarming rate 🙂 )
If you are new to the budget thing I suggest also shopping with cash envelopes in hand. It is impossible to go over budget with cash.
2. A List
If you want to stick to a thrifty grocery budget never set foot in a grocery store without a list. Not only will you come out of the store with things you don’t need but you will also walk out forgetting things you did need which will mean another trip to the grocery store. Multiple trips to the grocery store each week reap havoc on a grocery budget, not to mention the waste of time and gas.
Those who get their groceries for rock bottom prices were not born with the knowledge they learned it. Go to your local library and find the section on finances and you will find a section of books filled with tips on how save money on groceries. Blogs are also great sources of thrifty grocery shopping knowledge as well as Pinterest.
4. A Price Book
More important than coupons is a price book. In a price book you keep track of the price you pay for the items you buy. Then you compare the prices you have been paying for one item to what that item is selling for at another store, or website. You want to note sale prices too.
You can also note in your price book the price of store brands compared to the name brand you have been buying, to see if they have a cheaper price on the product (tip: when trying out a new brand for a product you love in another brand, get the smallest size, that way you are not going to waste that much money if you hate it. Should you love it, then go back and purchase the most economic size).
5. A Calculator
The calculator can be the one on our phone although I prefer a simple handheld inexpensive calculator that fits in my purse.
The calculator can be used to total groceries as you shop so you don’t go over budget. I also use mine to compare prices while in store to make sure I am getting the best price per ounce.
6. A Quarter
Thrifty people shop in no frill grocery stores like Aldi and Ruler Foods. These grocery stores don’t hirer a person to clean up their carts for them, instead they make sure the job gets done by their customers by charging a quarter for a cart. I keep one in my car at all times (pity the poor child who takes mom’s car quarter 🙂 )
7. Reusable Grocery Bags
No frill grocery stores also charge for bags and there is no way thrifty people are going to pay for those each and every week when they don’t have too. Instead I use various cloth bags that I make sure to wipe out and dry each week.
Honestly though many times I forget them and when I do I either search for boxes as I shop (no frill grocery stores keep the product in the big box it came in) or I place the items in the back of my SUV without bags and when I get home I take bags out to the car to make it easier to transport the food into the house.
8. Store cards or Store Apps
I shop the sales at my local Meijer and often save even more with their Mperks program where I load up coupons to my cellphone number on my laptop before leaving the house. It takes me just a few minutes and each trip it saves me $1 to $2. That really adds up over the course of a year.
Check the stores in your area to see which ones have cards or apps you can use to cut costs.
9. Paper & Digital Coupons
There are so many different places to find coupons beyond the Sunday paper nowadays.
There are printable coupons found at sites like…
There are coupon apps offering cash backs such as …
- ibotta: good not just for groceries but for many different household expenses.
- Checkout 51: Love Checkout 51 because it can be used no matter where you shop and has whole food items.
- BerryCart: Gluten free, Non-GMO, Organic and natural food cash backs are available at BerryCart.
- Snap: Can claim the cash backs no matter where you shop and often have cash backs on basic food items like bread.
- Saving Star: Can either claim the cash backs with a receipt or link it to your store loyalty card.
And then there is Favado “a mobile savings app that helps shoppers save time and money by discovering the best deals in more than 65,000 grocery and drugstores nationwide. The Favado app uses real-time couponing data to provide access to exclusive matching deals (coupons plus in-store promotions) for ultimate savings. Other features include planning tools for weekly shopping trips and insider access to unlisted deals.” (website description)
I haven’t finished trying out Favado yet but it is on my thrifty to do list.
10. Discounted gift cards & point earned gift cards
If you shop at stores like Walmart or Target you can grab a gift card using Swagbucks to do thinks that you already do online anyway like searching the web, or shopping online. There are lots of other similar programs so make sure you check out my list of 18+ point programs for earning gift cards.
Another way to increase your savings is to buy discounted gift cards from places like Carpool. Cardpool has gift cards to natural food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes as well as grocery chains like Albertsons and Kroger.
Now that you are armed with the tools you need to save money at the grocery store make sure you check out my step by step post on how a thrifty person grocery shops.