Spending Shakedown – Groceries

Published on December 1, 2018 4:59 am, by

Grocery spend is a major component of the household budgets of most Australians. So it comes in for a fair bit of attention when people are looking for areas to spend less.

Thankfully, with some planning, diligence and a good dose of tricks and hacks you can probably save a fair bit on groceries. It really boils down to planning what you are going to spend and sticking to the plan. If you have the time you can save some extra money by using some discount hacks.

Subcategory – Groceries

The key tactics are:

  • set and stick to a budget
  • put in some thought before you head to the shops

Set & Stick to a budget

  • Record how much you spend currently & how much you will trim that by, to be really good at this you have to know where you spend every dollar
  • Check the price per unit and choose the products with the lowest cost per unit (but don’t buy more than you will use either – a lot of our grocery bills end up as spoiled food thrown out)
  • Check the difference between packaged food & the deli – often packaged food has a significant markup just for the “convenience” of coming wrapped in extra plastic
  • Cut out some of the more expensive grocery items like meat. Eating less meat might even work out to be healthier for you and your family
  • Look for cheaper home brand options and if you can’t bring yourself to buy all home brand items at least buy the basics such as flour, rice, sugar, etc where the products are commodities with very little difference between them
  • Figure out the cheapest place to shop – there is increasing competition in most grocery categories now so it might be worth switching from Woolworths or Coles to Aldi for example. Though to save the most money you probably need to shop at more than one store – canned food, cheese, yogurt & some packaged goods are consistently cheaper at Aldi for example

Extra tips or strategies for if you often overspend

  • Try making a specific cash withdrawal for your groceries, for a particular time period. Once you’ve spent that cash you can’t buy any more groceries
  • Limit the number of times you go shopping. For most people, reducing the number of grocery shopping trips, but spending more on each of the fewer trips will usually result in a lower overall spend
  • If you shop at Woolworths or Coles, try click & collect (it’s free), you might make fewer impulse purchases
  • Never shop when you’re hungry

Put some thought in before you head to the shops

  • Build a menu plan & write a list of all the ingredients you need. Limit what you buy to what’s on the list
  • Check the catalogues and figure out where the ingredients you need cost the least
  • Build an understanding of when your local stores markdown items. For example, most Coles stores mark yesterday’s bakery bread to half price at the store opening time. Most Woolworths stores also markdown meat approaching its Best Before Date at the store opening time. The meat you buy like this can be eaten before the date, or frozen before the date and will keep perfectly well

The Gift Card Discount hack

Believe it or not, there is a guaranteed way to save 5% off your grocery bill – in addition to any other specials and savings, we’ve discussed above and regardless of what you buy. You can do it using discounted Gift cards. Sure, it takes a bit of planning and a bit of effort, but if you have a big grocery bill it might be worth it.

Where to purchase discounted eGift cards:

If you’d like some more motivation or ideas, check out these articles –

Subcategory – Alcohol

If you selected you would like to spend less on alcohol, there are obvious ways to do this:

  • Set a budget, and buy a gift card for where you shop – once it’s gone, it’s gone
  • Drink less – maybe drink one less night a week
  • Abstain totally for a period of time (how much could you save?)
  • Try different brands – go for what’s on sale rather than your favourite
  • Check the catalogues and go where what you want costs the least
  • Dan Murphy’s is consistently the lowest prices (they also price match) and you can use your WISH eGift cards there to get a further 5% off. WISH eGift cards can also be used at BWS.

Subcategory – Fruit & Veggies

Check the Groceries subcategory above for ideas, however specifically to fruit & veg you could:

  • Check out the front of fruit & veggie shops often they have their sale items there
  • Check the Imperfect picks range at supermarkets & some fruit/veg shops
  • Check the catalogues for what’s on sale and where
  • Shop seasonally (but still check the catalogues)
  • Shops like IGA have market days, where you can stock up on what’s on sale
  • Know what you can freeze! E.g. bananas for baking & smoothies

Subcategory – Cigarettes

Our tips here are quite similar to the alcohol subcategory:

  • Set a budget, and buy a gift card specifically for cigarettes – once it’s gone, it’s gone
  • Smoke less – at over $1 per cigarette the savings add up quickly
  • Abstain totally for a period of time (how much could you save?)
  • Downsize to rollies if you haven’t already
  • Check the catalogues and go where what you want costs the least

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Peter is the CEO of MoneyBrilliant. He has over 20 years experience in banking, insurance and accounting. Peter has three sons, ranging in age from 16 to 3, is a sport and fitness fanatic and a volunteer firefighter. He is passionate about improving people's lives through making financial services more accessible.

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