It’s no secret that prices have increased, and a simple trip to the grocery store will show you just that. In 2021, we saw prices for all food groups increase by 5.4% in the United States (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In Canada, we saw a similar trend with inflation rates in October rising to 4.7% (according to Statistics Canada). The costs of energy and housing are also putting families under financial strain.
With no sign of surging prices slowing down, saving money is more important than ever. There isn’t one “right” way to save, but you can try different strategies and see what works for your family. Here are six simple tips to help you get started before you shop the aisles of your local grocery store.
1. Create a budget
The first step is to create a weekly/monthly budget. A budget can be a simple Google spreadsheet, a budgeting app like Mint, or even a notebook. The most important aspect of a budget is knowing your household income and expenses. Break down your expenses by categories on a monthly or weekly basis, starting with the ongoing expenses: groceries, personal care items, rent/mortgage, transportation, phone, power, insurance, etc… Then, decide how often and when you’ll plan to make bigger, one-time purchases: clothing, school supplies, travel, etc… By planning ahead, you’ll know how much to set aside each month to slowly save money for those bigger purchases.
2. Create a weekly meal plan
Groceries are a necessity, but one of the most common mistakes is buying too much. Before any grocery trip, make a note of what you already have and create a weekly meal plan. Whether it’s a mental note or an actual list of meals, think of all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks you plan to make that week. Then, write a list of ingredients that you’ll need for those meals, and most importantly, bring your list with you. We recommend creating your shopping list on the Flipp app, so it’s on your phone and with you at all times.
3. Shop the weekly sales with Flipp
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and even some big retailers have weekly specials, and you should take advantage of these. Our free weekly shopping app and website easily help you stay on top of all the deals. Flipp shows you what’s on sale at your local stores, helping you compare prices for your weekly essentials. Research shows that people who use Flipp will save an average of $45 every week — over time, the savings add up! If the price is right, consider stocking up on non-perishables and pantry items that are on sale. Think canned goods and paper products, just make sure to check the expiry dates. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even start tracking sales cycles to make sure you’re buying the right product, at the right time, for the best price.
For more tips to save money at the grocery store, check out our post 10 Tips to Save Money on Your Weekly Staples.
4. Shop at several stores
Shopping for all of your groceries and essentials at one store may seem more convenient, but you may be missing out on better, lower prices elsewhere. Generally, personal care items like shampoo and toothpaste will be cheaper at the pharmacy compared to the grocery store. Something else to consider is that certain items may be on sale at one store and others at another store. If you are able to, shopping around for the best prices will save you a few extra dollars.
Check out our post, Stretch Your Dollar by Knowing What to Buy Where, for a list of items to get at the dollar store, pharmacy, grocery store, and big box store.
5. Get cash back with free apps
Cash back apps like Rakuten and Checkout51 refund shoppers a percentage or dollar amount of their purchase. Depending on the program, you can shop online through the app or upload a photo of your receipt afterward if you shop in store. Getting $1 cash back for coffee creamer may not feel like a lot at first, but over time the savings will add up. Whether you shop online, in-store, or both, there’s a cash back app for everyone.
6. Use loyalty points and credit card perks wisely
Most stores have their own loyalty programs, and nearly all major credit cards have some kind of rewards program. Every little bit counts, so don’t forget to scan your loyalty card at checkout and use your credit cards on purchases that help you accumulate more points. For example, some credit cards reward you 2x the points when you use the card to pay for gas.
Once you’ve accumulated enough points, use them to pay for essentials like groceries, or if possible, redeem them for gift cards from stores that you already shop at. If there’s a selection of gift cards, redeem your points for gift cards from big box stores where you can buy essentials like laundry detergent and paper towels.
We hope these tips will come in handy as you take on the new year to meet your savings goals. For more tips on ways to save, we think you’ll like our post 8 Budgeting and Savings Tips for the Entire Family.