When the Grocery Bill is the Most Dreaded
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The gas or electric bill can send a little shiver of dread down your spine as you rip open the envelope. Or, maybe for you, it’s always the credit card statement that you view with only one eye open, hoping it will minimize the damage.
But, today, each beep heard at the register seems like another blow to future plans:
Beep. Scratch new school clothes off the list.
Beep. No car fund savings this month.
Beep. Goodbye date night.
Beep. Here’s to more work and less play time with the kids.
When prices are high (or when your teen son has a growth spurt) the grocery can quickly become a dreaded but still necessary trip.
Maybe you can’t get rid of all the dread, but there is a way to pivot that energy into action:
Take your time:
You may regularly rush in and out of the grocery for random items throughout the week. But that may not be the most efficient way for you to shop. Let the 3 P’s guide your future grocery trips:
Prepare – Create a meal plan for the week; this includes breakfasts, lunches, snack times and dinner. As you’re building it, comb through coupons and weekly ads to help you build your meals and also your grocery list. Is bacon on sale this week? Breakfast for dinner on Tuesday! Be sure to add in one “splurge” item the family can look forward to that’s on sale. Maybe that’s a pizza for Friday night or maybe it’s waffles for breakfast that week. Since it’s on sale, it will make you feel like your budget isn’t as tight as it really is.
Prioritize – Remember your plan and preparation and don’t get sidetracked as you walk through the aisles. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need it. If it is an essential household purchase, which you’ll need soon (less than a week or two), then maybe it’s worth shifting some priorities in your grocery budget for that trip. But don’t lose focus on what you actually need and can afford. Sales happen every week, so there will be another.
Purchase – Buy and hit the road without guilt that you spent too much or left without getting what you actually needed.
Consider your waste:
What did you throw away in the last few weeks? Are you sticking to your meal plan or do you need to curb those habits of grabbing take out regularly when you know you have food to cook?
We’ve compiled a few tips on how to minimize waste in your family. Check it out here. The main takeaway? Be intentional with your spending and your time. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the waste disappears.
Look for ways to save in other budget areas:
When your grocery budget seems tight, it’s time to look for other areas of relief.
- Can you turn your thermostat down even one degree in winter/turn it up one in summer?
- Are there any rewards programs you are missing out on with your credit cards, insurance or workplace?
- Are you putting enough in your HSA account to pay for prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine, feminine hygiene products and other eligible items? (Remember, your HSA is tax free money, so you’re able to keep a little more in your pocket while you’re paying for necessities.)
- When was the last time you called about your internet bill or car insurance to negotiate a lower cost?
Audit your spending and your debt.
It’s worth revisiting the budget and your overall debt. Sometimes we avoid looking at our debt because it feels impossible to pay off. But, there’s also power in facing it head-on.
- Are there any auto-pay subscriptions you’ve forgotten about?
- Is there anything you don’t use enough to justify the cost?
- What small debts do you have that you can pay off quickly just to get rid of that monthly payment?
Feeling like you need to take back control of your money? We explore in this article how to face debt, start saving and feel confident in your financial choices.
Yard Sale: Have one. Go to one.
Yard sales, consignment shops, Facebook marketplace, they can all be good places to shop and sell. Remember, others are in the same boat you are. Their kids are quickly outgrowing everything in their closet and they need larger sizes at a good price. Your closet clean out might be just what they need, as well as your wallet. If you just purchased a new home or are moving into an apartment, look for estate sales or moving sales to help you get home necessities at prices you can afford. Plus, you may have discovered you have more things to get rid of in your own moving process, so turn right around and help offset some of your moving costs by having a yard sale of your own.
With a few changes here and there, perhaps the next trip to the grocery won’t seem as upsetting. You’ll have your arsenal of tools in your belt to tackle these rising prices and still bring home what your family needs.