If you’re like most people, one of your New Year’s resolutions involves finances. Among the most popular resolutions are saving more money or spending less, which are essentially two sides of the same coin. These goals are often easier to achieve than making more money simply because they are mostly if not entirely under your own control.
Little Efforts Add Up
Saving more/spending less can be an incremental exercise. Saving pocket change consistently and over time adds up to real money. The best way to make a resolution stick is to make it as effortless as possible, and for most of us this doesn’t mean skipping the designer latte – an effort that is associated with deprivation and therefore effort. No, saving more/spending less can be so easy as to be mindless, and something that you can start doing the very next time you go grocery shopping. Just try these three easy strategies.
- Bet on the house. House brands that is. Most major grocery chains offer their own products – everything from milk, eggs and other staples, to snacks, beverages and pet food. In the absence of coupons, these items are invariably cheaper, and often significantly so. A recent case in point: store brand protein chocolate granola bars cost $6.74 per pound versus $9.67 per pound for the name brand version. (That translates to paying $2.99 per box at the register compared to $4.29). That’s a savings of $1.30 by choosing one product over another that sits on the very same shelf. Talk about easy money.
- Go big. When it comes to saving money, size does matter, and this doesn’t mean buying in bulk. Simply choosing a larger size of a product adds up to money in your pocket. For non-perishables like laundry detergent, shampoo or canned goods – anything you use regularly that has a long shelf life – shell out the additional money for the larger size since the unit price of these items is lower – and hence you save just by opting for the larger packaging. Name brand shampoo in a 10.1 oz. bottle cost $6.32 per pint. Move up to a 23.7 oz. bottle and it will cost you $5.06 per pint. Supersize to the 33.8 oz. version and pay $3.78 per pint. So if you insist on name brands, go big.
- Be loyal. Many grocery stores offer loyalty programs designed as the name implies – to keep customers loyal by way of discounts, deals or points redeemable for cash back. Join the loyalty program at those stores that you frequent to enjoy the savings benefits. The no brainers are those that offer instant savings – simply present or scan your card at the register when buying specially marked items and the savings are automatically applied at the time of purchase. These programs typically require initial sign up, and that’s it. Many programs will send out customized coupons based on purchasing patterns – a practice that may not sit well for the privacy-minded. For those who are willing to trade details of their shopping habits for deals, loyalty programs are yet another easy way to trim your grocery bill.
Follow these tips, and you will save more and spend less – and you won’t even break a sweat doing it.
Check out SavingStar here, a free digital grocery saving service to see if your grocery store is a participating retailer – and link your store card to save today.
For ways to save on gas, see here.