Managing our personal budgets can present quite a challenge in the current economic climate. All of a sudden some of the day-to-day stuff we need to buy has become a lot more expensive.
One of the things that the average household will be spending a significant proportion of their income on is the weekly food shop. Food prices seem to have risen quite steeply over the past year or so and this has had the effect on cutting the spending power of the average shopper. The price of sugar as a commodity has almost doubled over the past five years and this has led to price rises in many foodstuffs that use sugar as an ingredient. A similar rise has taken place in the wheat market – again leading to price rises in all sorts of basic food items. This can mean that the weekly supermarket trip has seen people watching the pennies and there are some tips here that you can use to make sure that you’re staying within your budget.
- Always try to have a snack before doing a food shop – it’s a well known fact that people who shop when they are feeling peckish are more prone to fill the trolley with items that they hadn’t intended buying.
- Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before setting out and make a list of the stuff that you are either running low on or have run out of. It’s no use being in the supermarket, looking at bottles of tomato sauce and wondering how much is left in the cupboard. If you have a clear idea of what you need, it will help you to avoid buying stuff just in case you’re about to run out.
- Make sure that you use your freezer space effectively and that everything in there is packed in tight. This means that you will have enough room to take advantage of any special offers (both on frozen food and fresh items that can be frozen) and, as everybody knows, a packed freezer uses less energy to run than one that is half empty. If you do have a lot of space in your freezer it’s always worth buying bread to fill the gaps. This means that you always have plenty of bread and can avoid a quick trip to the more expensive local shops because you run out.
- While shopping, try to stick to your list of items that you need and don’t get enticed by special offers on foods that you wouldn’t normally buy – you’re not saving anything here – you’re just spending money that you wouldn’t have spent otherwise.
- When you’re waiting at the checkout, spend the time organising the contents of your trolley so that it’s quick and easy to pack into bags when it’s your turn to be served. This will distract your attention away from the chocolate, sweets and special offers that are purposely situated next to the checkout to entice the impulse buyers.
- When you have paid for your purchases and loaded your bags into the trolley, take a couple of minutes going through the receipt to make sure that you have been correctly charged for everything and that all the special offers and discounts have been applied. This only takes a couple of minutes to do and is well worth it as mistakes are common at supermarket checkouts. If you do find a mistake, go straight to the customer service area and inform a staff member, asking for a refund or an adjustment. Some supermarkets actually have a scheme that means if you do discover a mistake you get a refund and you also get to keep the goods. Whether this applies in your case or not, it’s still worth claiming your refund as every little helps.
Don’t forget, effective budgeting while you’re food shopping can lead to significant savings on your annual budget.
The writer – Debbie frequently writes about personal finance, economic and business topics such as foreign exchange and currency exchange.
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