If there were one activity that I can honestly say that I loathe having to do, that activity would be shopping for groceries. Despite my distaste for this chore, however, I am always on the lookout for money (and time) saving tweaks that will make an activity I hate just an teensy bit more palatable. Most recently, I life hacked my grocery shopping habits to earn some wicked savings, in just five simple steps.
Step 1: Get Apps
The Food on the Table app helps me plan my meals around the sale items at my (favorite) local stores. If that wasn’t awesome enough, it also helps me figure out what items have extra in-store incentive coupons that I can use to net extra savings. All on its own, this nifty app helps cut my grocery bill by $25 to $50 a week.
I combine my Food on the Table app with the Grocery IQ app for even bigger savings. The Grocery IQ app lets me clip and send printable manufacturer coupons direct from my iPhone, making my coupon hunting a breeze – and something I can do in my spare time. From here, I just print and save.
App savings average? $57 a week/$2,990 a year
Step 2: Planning Restocking Around Sales
I believe in having a well-stocked pantry at all times. Oftentimes, that means being on the lookout for killer sales and knowing when to buy in bulk (and when not to).
I print out four or five extra coupons for any item that has a six month (or longer) shelf life. Then, on the first of each month, I go to the store with the sole purpose of restocking my pantry buy combining buy one get one deals and additional coupons whenever I can.
Of course, I pad my budget with enough money to be able to score on big savings or even better sales all month long.
Average monthly savings? $100
Step 3: Plan Backwards
Using my apps, the information on sale items and the coupons I have already downloaded, I make my meal plan. It sounds simple, but by planning my family’s breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks around my coupons is the biggest money saving life hack of all.
How much? $65 – 80 a month
Step 4: Go Late
While saving money is great, getting in and out of the grocery store without the bane of long lines and eye bulging traffic is even better in my book. I plan my grocery store adventures around 10 p.m. on Tuesday or Wednesday nights.
My grocer restocks on these days, immediately after the latest sales are announced, making it the best time to go. Going at these hours means that they are never “out” of whatever it is I want to get, and I get the best (and freshest) produce selection. Double bonus for me.
Even though I can’t boast big savings on this habit, it is one habit that keeps me sane – which is priceless.
Step 5: Use Rewards
I love scoring extra cash back for buying groceries, and I do this in a couple of ways.
I can (sometimes) get discounted Wal-Mart – or other grocery gift cards – at a fraction of their original price using online gift card exchanges. From these, I can usually get a $100 gift card for $80 to $90; saving as much as $20 off my grocery budget from the get go.
However, even more reliable than gift cards are my handy, dandy, trusty cash back rewards cards. It’s simple: I pay my grocery bill with my credit card, and then at the end of the month, I pay my credit card bill with my debit card, netting me two percent cash back between the two payment methods.
Savings? I earn $200 to $300 a year just by grocery shopping this way.
My total savings/bonuses? As much as $300 a month, or $3,600 a year. And if you ask me, that’s a lot of (excuse the pun) bread.
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Having a Joint Checking Account (Almost) Ruined My Marriage
An Online Sales Tax Won’t Change My Shopping Habits
6 ways I make frugality more fun