Saving Green at the Grocery StoreFriday, March 05, 2010

WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) -- People seeking help from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast spent an average of $346 on groceries in January 2010, compared to $356 in January of 2009 -- a decrease of just under 3 percent. Spending is still up more than 9 percent over January 2008.

"Even small changes in shopping habits can reduce your overall spending and be a great help to the family budget," said Jessica Cecere, president of CCCS. "Reducing your weekly grocery bill by just $25 will add an additional $100 a month that can be used to pay down debt or add to a savings account."

CCCS suggests that consumers track their current spending habits as a way to find opportunities to reduce spending. A quick review of the receipts from your last few trips to the grocery store can quickly identify impulse purchases and other snack or food items that you probably didn't need. Just cutting those out can add up to significant savings.

CCCS offers these tips to help shoppers save "green" at the grocery store:

  • Make a list, and stick to it. Plan your menus for the next week or two and make just one trip to the store.
  • Using your grocery list, clip and organize coupons and scan local grocery store fliers for deals of the week. You might even plan your menus around what is on sale each week. Before you shop, inventory what you already have so you don't overstock.
  • Use coupons
  • Buy in bulk

More savings tips:

  • Eat before you shop - Shopping on an empty stomach will always cost you more at the store. Have a snack before you go and you'll be less tempted to impulse buy.
  • Don't limit your shopping to eye level - Many lower cost items, including store brands, are stocked on higher and lower shelves while higher priced items are at eye level.
  • Don't assume items are cheaper because they are a larger size or displayed separately - Take a calculator along to determine the price per ounce or pound so you can get the best deal. And remember, larger is not always better. Buy only what you will use.
  • Save on eating out - While it may add slightly to your grocery bill, packing your lunch can save you a hundred dollars or more per month when compared to eating out. It may seem like a drastic option to stop eating out altogether so start small, suggests Cecere. Take your lunch to work Monday through Thursday and reward yourself by eating out on Friday. Eating out one day a week is much healthier for your budget verses 5 days a week.

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