Do you realize that a large portion of your earnings are going straight to your stomach each month? Of course you aren't physically eating your 10's and 20's out of your wallet (if you are, you may want to pursue some mental help), but you are purchasing a large dollar amount of food each month that accounts for one of the largest expenses in your budget! I mean think about it. How much money do you actually spend on food each month? After you account for the groceries, dining out, and those occasional donuts and ice cream purchases, you could easily be spending $600 or more each and every month! If you are not tracking your food expenses, then you are likely overspending. Here are some great ways to put some of that cash in your wallet instead of in your stomach.
#1. Limit Your Visits to Restaurants
This is the absolute biggest money-sucker when it comes to food purchases. I used to dine out at places like Carrabba's Italian Grill. The food was absolutely amazing, but….the bill was not. For two main courses and a couple of drinks, the bill often tallied between $50-$60. If I would do this just one time a week, that's nearly $250! If I were to just buy groceries for these meals instead, I could have saved myself at least $200, if not more.
As for McDonald's and Burger King, you may think you are getting away cheap here, but you are still paying more than you would have at home. A $7 meal at McDonald's could have been made with items from the grocery store for only $3. Plus, your meals would have most likely been healthier!
#2. Buy In Bulk
Now that you have limited your dining-out experiences, you need to learn how to save money at the grocery store. One of the greatest ways to save money per unit is to purchase your non-perishables in bulk. Obviously, you probably don't want to use this technique when you buy milk and eggs, but for those other items that you know you'll consume month after month and they won't go bad, buy them in bulk and save some money! Stores that are great for this are Costco, Sams Club, or Bulk Barn (for those of you in Canada).
I absolutely suck at saving money with coupons, but there are some of you out there that could save a ton of money by finding coupons and using them to your advantage. I have a cousin that tracks the prices of food, waits for sales, and then uses coupons to even further discount the price. It is not unusual for her to save over 50% on her grocery bill each week. For the rest of us, without much effort, we could save at least 20% just by finding a few coupons here and there. If I can do it, you can too. And it still is worth the money you end up saving each month.
#4. Discount Grocery Stores
For those of you that weren't all that interested in option #3, you can do like me and save money by just shopping at the cheapest grocery store there is. By me, the discount grocery stores are Aldi and Save-a-Lot and they are often 15-25% cheaper than groceries from Walmart. My milk is $2.39 a gallon, bread is under $1, and eggs are typically $1.29. There are plenty of other cheap foods as well, and as a bonus, the cashiers are the fastest I have ever seen! I can typically do all of my grocery shopping in less than 10 minutes.
#5. Limit That Junk Food
Day to day, it really doesn't seem like we spend that much money on junk food (I'm including Starbucks coffee in this category as well), but if you take the time to look back and total up your expenses on these one-off purchases, then can really add up. Often times, to more than $100! I challenge you to take a close look at these expenses at the end of the month. Donuts, cookies, coffee, Twinkies (they are still making these right?), soda, candy bars. How much did you spend on these items last month? If it's more than $20, you might just want to start scaling back. It might be good for your waistband as well. 🙂