TIP #1: Reduce trips to the store
Well DUH! That’s obvious! But how do you REALLY do this? Here’s how I did it.
1. Figure out what you regularly buy.
Think about it. Put it on paper. What do you like? Where can you cut back? Create “regular” lists for each store – things you get pretty much EVERY time you go there. Then consider how you can stock up on it, or if you can get it at a better price without going to the store. This exercises your “planning ahead” muscles – it teaches you to start thinking that way. Planning ahead is good. It saves money.
2. Plan well-organized big shopping trips to the store at a set limited frequency.
Initially, I limited us to one big shopping trip every month. Then over time as I got better at it, I found I could stretch it to 6 weeks, then 8 weeks, and now 3 months. We usually do a monthly trip to the grocery store in-between our big shopping trips and really try to limit it to produce and the few other things that cannot wait until the next big trip. Making extra trips to the store is a money drain. Avoid it.
Every 3 months, our big shopping trip currently consists of: Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, a Walmart.com online order, Runnings, and usually few miscellaneous other stops. I order as much food and household items as I can online at Walmart.com and save the stuff that can’t be ordered online for the in-store purchase. It’s so easy. It arrives at your front door. Free shipping. They will even ship one bag of brown sugar!
3. Buy in bulk
Once you know what you want to buy, buy in bulk where ever it makes sense from places like Sam’s, Costco, Azure Standard or even Walmart (25 pound bags of sugar and rice, etc). Freeze bulk perishable items like cheese, tortillas, bread, butter (and even milk!) to make them last a long time.
4. Stock up
Now that you are aware of what you regularly buy, instead of buying one container of your favorite ketchup, buy 6. Especially if it’s on sale. Yes, it might take you 6 months to use it, but it’s one less thing you need to buy next time, and will prevent you from running out of it in the middle of the month requiring another quick trip to the store. Do this with any pantry items you regularly buy.
5. Rethink produce purchases
Produce is one of the main things that keeps us going to the grocery store frequently. Stock up on long-lasting fruits and vegetables. Open your mind to using more frozen vegetables. I love food and snubbed my nose at frozen veggies at first, but now I love them. They are so quick and easy. Consider other ideas such as a produce box delivery service if it makes sense financially and will keep you from making frequent trips to the store. I’ll do a separate tip on making fresh produce “stretch” in the future.
6. Challenge yourself to ‘make do without’
If you run out of something non-essential before the next big shopping trip, try to control yourself and do without it until then. One of my posts will be doing a “stretch” week – where you use up what you have and push your shopping trip out one more week.
7. Start somewhere!
Don’t worry about being a master planner at first. It’s ok if you forget something – it happens every time! The point is you are changing your habits. You’ll learn quickly. Trust me.
Check these links out:
- Stocking up tips from the Pioneer Woman
- Budgeting tips from Rachel Cruze
My blog posts in this series: