Money

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.

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
  • 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 and unpackaged foods – 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 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 and you’ll have fewer opportunities for impulse purchases
  • If you shop at Woolworths or Coles, try click & collect (it’s free), you might make fewer impulse purchases. It’s worth knowing that Woolworths have a policy where you will pay the same price online and in-store however Coles does not. This often means that there are more specials instore at Coles than you will find online.
  • 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 in the evenings or 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:
Coles https://www.moneybrilliant.com.au/blogs/get-5-off-coles-supermarkets/
Woolworths https://www.moneybrilliant.com.au/blogs/get-5-off-woolworths-supermarkets/

If you’d like some more motivation or ideas, check out these articles –
https://www.moneybrilliant.com.au/blogs/driving-down-your-grocery-spend/
https://www.moneybrilliant.com.au/blogs/the-smart-shopper-winning-the-grocery-challenge/

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 (you can do it all from your computer at www.lasoo.com.au)
  • From our research Dan Murphy’s generally has the lowest prices of all the liquor stores and they also price match – so you can be fairly confident of getting the best price if you do your research
  • You can use the Gift Card Discount hack to get a further 5% off. WISH eGift cards can also be used at BWS.

Fruit & Vegetables

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 (you can do it all from your computer at www.lasoo.com.au)
  • Shop seasonally (but still check the catalogues)
  • Shops like IGA have market days, where you can stock up on what’s on sale
  • Shop at your city’s fruit and vegetable market – make an experience – buy direct from the grower or distributor and cut out the retailer. You can also buy in bulk and share the cost with a neighbour or family member
  • Know what you can freeze, stock up when it’s in season and on special E.g. bananas for baking & smoothies

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?)
  • Check the catalogues and go where what you want costs the least (you can do it all from your computer at www.lasoo.com.au)

Meat

A lot of us now buy their meat at the supermarket so it has become hard to track specific costs for meat. But if you can and you want to reduce your spend on meat our tips are:

  • Reduce the amount of meat you have in your diet by planning your meals – less meat means less spend – and it’s probably healthier as well
  • Find the cheapest store to do your meat shopping – all the large supermarkets do meat – and even Aldi has a good range of well-priced meat now
  • Check the catalogues from week to week to find the best deals and shop based on price rather than habit or brand (you can do it all from your computer at www.lasoo.com.au)
  • Try buying in bulk from a direct to the public “wholesale” butcher. You’ll need to do some research to find one and you still need to make sure the prices are good
  • If it’s convenient to regularly drop into your local supermarket, figure out when they mark down the meat that is approaching its best before date – our research suggests it’s generally done in the first hour or so after a store opens. If you know the routine you can pick up some fabulous deals when the meat department is overstocked

Bakery

Like meat, a lot of us now buy our bakery items at the supermarket so it has become hard to track specific costs for bakery. But if you can and you want to reduce your spend on bakery items our tips are:

  • Find the cheapest store to do your bakery shopping – all the large supermarkets do bakery so there is good competition
  • Check the catalogues from week to week to find the best deals and shop based on price rather than habit or brand (you can do it all from your computer at www.lasoo.com.au)
  • If it’s convenient to regularly drop into your local supermarket, figure out when they mark down bakery items that are approaching their best before date – our research suggests it’s generally late in the afternoon or evening. If you know the routine you can pick up some fabulous deals when the bakery department is overstocked

Convenience Stores

This quite a simple one – retailers know that convenience is valuable and you’ll pay for it! So think ahead and plan and you can generally eliminate this spending and save a lot.

Coffee Supplies

The coffee culture in Australia is alive and well. Often things like milk and chocolate topping (for cappuccinos) will sneak in and add to the grocery category. But if you want to get a real idea of how much your cups of coffee are costing you, you can track it all under this subcategory.

Sometimes it’s fun to check out this category, especially if you’re somebody who doesn’t do take-aways and enjoys what you make at home for a whole lot less than others pay in the course of their day.

We still have a few tips to help you spend a little less –

  • researching to find out where you can get your favourite roasting brand is cheapest
  • keep your eye out for sales
  • buy in bulk, if you have friends who also buy beans, you might find buying 1 kg and splitting it can save you $5 each
  • give other roasters a go – you might find something just as good for less

 

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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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