How to Create a Grocery Budget
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How to Create a Grocery Budget

Posted on Saturday, May 21st, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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Grocery shopping on a budget can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult. So, how can you create a grocery budget that’s right for you and stick to it?

Creating a Budget
First, you have to decide what a reasonable budget for you and your family is. This can vary from household to household. First, you have to decide what your maximum grocery budget is.  As of March 2011, the USDA suggests that a “thrifty” family of four spend between $530 and $611 a month on groceries, while a “liberal” plan runs about double at $1,030 to $1,203 a month. On average, a family will spend about 30 percent of their overall budget on groceries (including health and beauty products).

Once you have decided on your maximum grocery budget, drop your budget lower. For example, if you decide you can afford to spend $200 a week on groceries, set your ideal budget at $150. This will allow room for a little overspending and will also save you money in the long run. You can get more groceries for less by utilizing grocery coupons.

Sticking to Your Budget
So now that you have created your grocery budget, here are some simple tips for sticking to it:

  • Create a meal plan and make a shopping list. This will help you to stay focused and on track when you get to the grocery store.
  • Be thrifty. Remember, you can get more for less by using your grocery coupons. Several grocery stores will even match competitor’s prices, so take note of which stores are having sales and inquire about price matching.
  • Take a calculator with you to the grocery store. Use it to calculate the price of each item you add to your shopping cart into your total. This will help you to avoid spontaneous impulse buys and overspending.
  • If possible, leave your credit card and checkbook at home. Once you have set your grocery budget, go to the bank or ATM and get that exact amount in cash. Your calculator will help you to avoid any surprise totals at the checkout.
  • If possible, do your grocery shopping alone to avoid having unnecessary items added to your cart when you aren’t looking.
  • Lastly, avoid doing your grocery shopping on an empty stomach. This is an easy way to give into impulse buys – especially when in close proximity to the snack aisle!

 

Why Have a Grocery Budget?
Having a grocery budget is becoming increasingly important as the economy continues to drive prices up. By spending a little extra time creating a grocery budget and organizing your grocery coupons, you will save money that you can apply to other areas of your budget. Going into the grocery store with a budget and a plan will also save you from wasting money on items you will never use.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.