Thursday, February 10, 2011

Budget-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips: What You Should Know About Being a Frugal Grocery Shopper

In our last post we finished up talking about some of the advantages of using supermarket coupons. Have you ever wondered why the person ahead of you at the checkout is able to spend $60 less on the same basket of groceries than you? On the surface, you are buying the same number of bags of groceries, but their total seems to be less than yours…a lot less.

The secret, they know how to be a frugal grocery shopper.

Frugal grocery shoppers have some characteristics that you may not be aware of, and I’m about to dish on their secrets.

Frugal grocery shoppers, just like the millionaire next door have a trick or two up their sleeves for saving a bundle every time they go to the supermarket.

Frugal Grocery Shoppers Know a Good Deal When They See It
Savvy shoppers know the going price for the products they use the most often. They are not tricked into a fake sale price that is not really a sale. On the flip side, a knowledgeable shopper knows the difference between a low price and truly fantastic deal and will stock up only when the price is right. Knowing your prices puts you in control of your spending rather than letting the marketers tell you when to buy.

Frugal Grocery Shoppers Never Buy at Full Price
Knowing a good price also gives you the ability to stock up ahead and avoid paying the full retail price for every item on every shopping trip. Think about it, even without ever using a single grocery coupon, you can save 30% off the full retail price if you buy only when an item is on sale. If you always buy enough to get you through to the next sale, you can reduce spending by $30 on every $100 you spend. That savings is no small potatoes. An average family of 4 spends over $200 per week on food. Save $60 per week and realize a $3120 savings a year. What could you do with a savings like that? If you are like me, a nice trip someplace on a tropical beach comes to mind.

Frugal Shoppers Go Without if They Run Out
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to run to the store for just one item that you are out of between shopping trips. Why? Grocers love the impulse sale, and most of us are impulsive. If we want it we buy it. Big mistake! Not only do you pay the highest price for what you have to buy this instant, but that trip to the store usually does not end with just one item. One whatever you are out of becomes, and entire bag of unplanned purchases with a price tag to match. Incidentally, you waste more than just money on that trip to the corner. Time and gas come at a price too.

Frugal Shoppers Are Masters at Substitutions
Plainly put, if the frugal grocery shopper or frugal cook runs out of something, they avoid the trip to the store by substituting whatever they have on hand. The cheapest most frugal way to cook is by using the fewest ingredients possible, purchased at the lowest possible prices. This is a favorite tactic of controlling food costs in restaurants. Restaurants and diners build their entire menus around just a few ingredients. The true advantage to this cost saving strategy? Buying fewer perishable ingredients means less waste and fewer products to buy, thus controlling food costs. If they run out, they make do. A little creativity goes a long way.

Frugal Shoppers are Consistent
Just like the millionaire next door, a frugal grocery shopper has a strategy and knows that the savings are in the details. They never deviate from the plan. They are as consistent as the day is long. You may be wondering why this is so important. I have worked with many over the last few years, and have noticed something striking in my client’s behavior. They can do everything right and then loose an entire months savings by failing to stick to their plan on just one shopping trip. Let’s face it, we are human. We are also creatures of habit and everyone falls down from time to time. Realize this though, you only hold yourself back by deviating from your plan. If you find yourself making excuses like “I’m just too tired,” or “I’ve worked hard this week so I deserve a treat,” then it’s time to ask yourself if you are doing all you can to stick to your savings plan.

How You Can Become a Frugal Grocery Shopper
My motto has always been “work smarter not harder.” So, you don’t need to get too deep here to become successful at reducing grocery spending. Really, all you need to do is two really simple things to realize reduced spending on food. First, understand that becoming a frugal shopper is a mindset and as such that mindset will eventually become part of your lifestyle. No big concession really, since we all tend to continue doing things that benefit us. If there is a payoff in the end, it really is easy to continue behaviors that we see as positive. The key here is to find a way to adopt the new behaviors that make them easy to maintain over the long haul. If you can do this, then you won’t have to put much energy into maintaining the changes you have made. They will come naturally after awhile.

Second, and again a really easy strategy to implement is to adopt what works well for others. Tweak the strategy until it easily fits into your lifestyle, but you really don’t need to make things difficult by starting from scratch. Reinvent the wheel and then you can move on.

To recap, frugal grocery shoppers slash their grocery spending because they do the following well:

-Frugal grocery shoppers know a good deal when they see it.

-Frugal grocery shoppers never buy at full price.

-Frugal grocery shoppers go without if they run out.

-Frugal grocery shoppers are masters of substitutions.

-Frugal grocery shoppers are consistent.

Most importantly, just have fun with seeing your own progress. Congratulate yourself on the positive changes you are making. Give yourself kudos for reaching your goal. Make small improvements every week and in no time you will be a frugal grocery shopper too.

Oh, and by the way, frugal shoppers also kick up their savings by choosing to use supermarket coupons. A good deal is never good enough for them unless it is free.