Groceries tend to be a category in which many people overspend. Here are 10 tips for staying on track.
1. Create a food budget!
Obvious, yes, but it’s important to start here. While the average American family spends 9-12% of its monthly income on food, the amount will vary based on your family size, ages of children, where you live, and whether or not you’re accommodating dietary restrictions. Start by looking at the receipts from the past several weeks and use them to calculate a baseline. Then try and lower it a bit over time as you’re disciplined to implement other steps.
2. Pull out the budgeted money in cash.
It is very easy to go over budget when you use a card. Even a store gift card may not keep you in check unless it’s loaded with the exact amount you’re limited to for that shopping trip. But when you know you must have enough cash to cover your purchases when you get to the register, it forces you keep a running total as you put items in the cart. (Otherwise, it can be a little embarrassing!)
3. Don’t carry your entire monthly grocery budget.
Take whatever you’ve budgeted for the month and divide up into weeks if you shop weekly, two weeks if you shop bi-weekly, etc. Then bring only that amount and leave the rest at home. Always set aside a little margin for things you may need to pick up in the interim such as milk, bread, and eggs.