How to Shop Well on a Budget
When cash-strapped, you have to be cautious about how you spend the little money you have. You don’t want to go on a shopping spree and then end up in a financial hole.
You must find ways, by all means, to save that money to enjoy greater financial security. For example, to save money when shopping, you can start by making little changes one day at a time. These five small changes to help you save money can provide you a perfect place to start.
You don’t have to make drastic changes to see an impact. All that’s needed is to take several small steps that can make a huge difference.
So, how can you shop well on a budget? Here are some wallet-friendly tricks to implement when shopping.
Set up a Budget and Stick to it
The first and the most crucial thing is to create a budget and stick to it. A budget helps you be aware of the amount of money you have to set aside for shopping.
Whether buying clothes or groceries, you need to make the right decisions so that the money can fit your budget. Overspending in one area means underspending in another. To strike a balance, you must have a clear strategy.
When you have a plan, you can achieve your goals despite your current financial position. Also, it can help you remain within your budget limits.
Creating a budget involves listing all your income from all sources and listing your expenses against that income. Most experts recommend using the 50/30/20 rule in allocating your income. That means 50% goes to your needs, 30% goes to your wants, and 20% goes to your savings.
So, budget half your income to meet those items you must have, like food, clothing, and shelter. For example, shopping for groceries falls under the ‘needs’ category. You can develop a grocery budget based on the amount you spend per week multiplied by four.
Typically, a budget helps you set goals and decide what to buy and what to leave out. You can get more amazing insights from these top five budgeting tips.
Plan Your Meals Before Doing Grocery Shopping
Before you go to the grocery store, ensure that you have planned your meals for the upcoming week. By doing so, you’ll only spend money on what is essential and what you’ll actually need while cooking during the week.
Therefore, have at least one day of planning your meals each week. When you plan your weekly meals, you eliminate the “no clue of what to cook” days. With this, you won’t end up in a restaurant or calling delivery to bring you a takeout order, which can mess up your budget big time.
During the planning period, scan your cabinets and fridge to find out what you already have and what you’ll need to buy. You may be surprised to find groceries hiding in some corner of your pantry or at the back of the cabinets that you didn’t have any idea even existed. Therefore, it’s good to check every area in your kitchen.
After scouting your place out, make a grocery list and then plan to buy only what you have on your list to avoid any wastage. By doing so, you won’t get sidetracked at the grocery store with expensive and unintended purchases if you have that shopping list.
Also, you won’t have to worry about finding ways to use some random item in your fridge or cabinet. This is because you’ll have bought only what’s on your list, which is exactly what you need.
Therefore, meal planning is crucial as it saves you money and time. In addition, it eliminates food wastage, which is typically just throwing money in the trash. You can use apps like MealPlanner, Flipp, AnyList, or Mealime to create your list.
Buy Generic Brands at the Grocery Store
Most grocery stores offer generic brands for nearly any food product, including milk, juice, spices, sugar, flour, etc. These generic brands are cheaper compared to other brands.
Also, generic brands may likely be of the same quality as store brands and other national brands since all food manufacturers must follow similar standards to produce safe foods. When on a budget, you can buy generic brands to cut your food expenses. However, ensure that you read the ingredients list to ensure that you’re getting products with ideal quality.
It’s good to note that some premium brands could cost much less if you have a good coupon, so it’s good to compare prices, sales flyers, and coupons to see the least expensive options.
When on a budget, use cash to shop. With cash, you can easily track where your money is going.
Using credit cards can put you way over budget limits. This is because if you don’t pay off the credit card on time, it can attract high interest amounts that could ruin your budget and add substantially to the cost of everything you buy.
However, when in a real financial emergency and there is something you need to buy, this is an appropriate time in which you could use a credit card. However, make paying off the balance a priority.
Alternatively, you could also take out a payday loan that you would need to repay with your next paycheck. AdvanceSOS connects you with legit payday loan lenders. However, keep in mind that this is an expensive way to shop.
Understand Supermarket Tricks
Being aware of supermarket tricks can help you avoid overspending. For example, when you go to the local store or supermarket, try to shop within the store perimeter first. This is the area with whole foods.
Most processed foods are placed in the middle of the store. So, avoid this area to reduce temptations.
When you go down the aisles, focus mostly on the top and bottom of the store shelves instead of looking straight ahead. This is because most pricey items are usually put at eye level.
Also, avoid buying what’s on sale, especially if it’s not on your shopping list. Sometimes these offers aren’t always the best deals. Those sale stickers are used to attract shoppers’ attention. Don’t fall for it if you want to avoid overspending.
With advancements in technology, online shopping has become more rampant now than ever before. With online shopping, you can access and compare many choices from multiple providers with what you have in your region.
When you shop online, you’re likely to get the same brands for considerably less money or half the price. However, factor in the cost of shipping the item to you to see if the price would end up in the same range as what’s available near you or cost more.
Check if they have free shipping offers or discount coupons to get the most out of your shopping. Read the fine print when doing online shopping to ensure that you get what you pay for.
Amanda is a senior financial copywriter at AdvanceSOS. She has more than six years of journalism experience, mostly in finance. She graduated with a Master’s degree in finance from the University of Oklahoma.