For many people, 2020 has been a tough year financially. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented job losses and hit businesses – even the most successful ones – hard. Couple that with periods of self-isolation and lockdowns or restricted hours, and trying to balance homeschooling with working, and, well, it has been a really tricky time.
We are all hoping that 2021 is a better year for the world. We have positive news in the shape of a vaccine and it never hurts anyone to start off at least thinking positively. However, you may be looking at ways to try and save some money next year. Perhaps you want to save up to move house, buy a new car or go on a dream holiday to put this year behind you. Or, maybe you need to keep on cutting back outgoings while you get the rest of your finances back on track.
Whatever your motivation for needing or wanting to save money, we have some excellent tips here. Your grocery shopping, particularly if you are a larger family, can often be one of the most significant outgoings that you have. You can’t really change your rent or mortgage payments, and while you can shop around for your gas and electric and water and insurance, you are quite limited. How much you spend on shopping can be up to you though; you can make it as expensive or as cheap as you want, by following a few simple tips, which we are going to look at in more detail below.
Quit being a brand name snob
Brand names cost a lot more than own brand products or basic supermarket brands. You probably would not mind if they were a lot better in terms of quality but the truth is many of them are not. In fact, many are produced in the same factory by the same manufacturer using the same ingredients, with nothing more than a fancy label being the difference. You can purchase supermarket products for so much less, and yet the quality and flavour will often be the same. Try replacing one item a week in your shopping, and see if it makes a lot of difference. You may be pleasantly surprised to save a lot of money! If you can’t bear to start buying supermarket brands, there will always be cheaper brands you can try. You could always try starting off with a supermarket brand and if it does not quite hit the spot, you can move up to the next brand and go up until you find a brand that you do like.
Keep a close eye on supermarket prices
Understandably, supermarkets and grocery stores raise their prices throughout the year. However, it can sneak up on you slowly and it is not until you stop and really look at the prices that you realise just how much it has increased. Keep a close eye on prices – use a percent calculator to help you work out the difference and if necessary, change supermarkets or look at using the other tips that we have shared here.
Do not go shopping without a plan
We have all done it. It has got to 5pm in the evening, the kids have been whining and moaning and we have opened the fridge and stared into it blankly, trying to work out on earth what we are going to dinner. Maybe you will have chicken – except you didn’t take the chicken out of the freezer. Ok – so you will have lasagne. You have got the ground beef and the tomato sauce but oh…you forgot to pick up lasagne pasta last time you went shopping. You should also consider using a meal planning service. Learn more about them on Meal Matchmaker, https://mealmatchmaker.com/best-meal-planning-service/ to save yourself some time.
Cereal it is!
Avoid this problem from happening by planning out your meals. Some people like to stick to a rigid day by plan, others like to have a list of seven meals to choose from for the week. Whichever way you do it, sit down the night before you plan to go shopping, write out your meals and any ingredients that you need for them and put these on the list. Make sure you check your fridge, freezer and cupboards to see if you have anything in there before buying more. Meal planning does not only save you money, but it saves you time and stress as well.
Stick to your shopping list
Armed with your meal plan and after a good check through your cupboards, pantry and fridge and freezer, sit down and write out your shopping list. Try to put it in some sort of logical order – all of the dairy products together, all of the baked goods together and so on, so that once you are in the supermarket you are not going from one side to another and back again. Make sure that you actually take your list with you – it is not going to be much help if it is left pinned to the fridge or left on your kitchen table.
Also – STICK TO IT. Do not be tempted to go rogue, even if something sounds like an absolute bargain. If you have planned out your list carefully enough, there should be absolutely everything you need on there, from food items to healthcare, personal hygiene products, cleaning products, animal food and so on. If it is not on the list, you do not need it – do not buy it!
Never go shopping on an empty stomach
This is a pretty well known ‘hack’ but one that is important to remind you of because it really is a thing.It has been proved that people who go shopping on an empty stomach are going to spend more in general. Shopping with the sounds of your growing stomach can make you buy things that you do not really need. Go after eating a meal or have a snack before you set off, or take some mints or chewing gum to have on the way around the supermarket.
Use leftovers wisely
As well as saving money, we should all be making an effort to reduce the amount of waste that we produce as well. One of the biggest causes of waste is leftovers – we cook too much and throw it away or leave to molder away in the fridge until it gets chucked in the trash.
Instead, look at interesting and easy ways of using leftovers to create new meals. Leftover bolognese can make sloppy joes, that bit of mashed potato can be added to tuna fish and corn to make fish cakes, that leftover beef could make french dip baguettes. Even things like chicken carcasses and the unwanted tops and tails of vegetables can be used to make stock. There are lots of recipes and websites available online to help you to get the best out of your leftovers.
Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs
Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, and herbs can help to lift even the most simple and basic of dishes from boring to delicious. However, they can all be expensive. The silly thing is that most of us can grow at least a little bit, even if we have a tiny yard or apartment. Have a dedicated fruit and veg patch, or just try growing herbs such as basil, mint and coriander on a sunny window sill. It will save you money, give you immense pride and can be educational for children.
Buy in bulk
This is one that, if done wisely, can save you plenty of money, but if it is done recklessly, it can end up costing you more, so be careful. If it is something that you know that you will definitely use before any expiry date and you have the space to store it, it is a great idea. Things like canned tomatoes and beans, toiletries and cleaning products and pasta and rice and flour are great products to bulk buy, as they last ages and are usually cheaper. However, do not be pulled in by ‘buy two get one free’ offers if you are only ever going to use one. Unless, however, you are planning to donate your unused ones to your local food bank – that is always a great idea.
Cut out coupons
You do not have to go all out extreme couponing here, but keep an eye out for special offers and codes in leaflets pushed through your mailbox or sent through to your email inbox. If they are products that you regularly use, use the coupons! There are also plenty of websites dedicated to looking for coupons and voucher codes so if you do have the spare time and the motivation, check them out and save a few extra cents
By putting some of these tips into practise, you should be able to make some significant savings to your shopping bill in 2021. Whether that extra money is to live off or to be put towards a big treat, even a few cents here and there can make a big difference.