Grocery day. Chances are you either love it or hate it. Or maybe you sit on the fence….loving it when you have an ample supply of funds, dreading it when you don’t. Since I lost my job at the beginning of the year, I have come to enjoy grocery day less and less. However, I’m finding ways to make it more bearable and, more importantly, to get the most out of my limited employment insurance income.
What has helped me stretch our income the most is taking the time to plan ahead. I never go to the grocery store without a list. Before I head out on grocery day, I sit on the sofa with a hot cup of coffee (usually while still in my pyjamas), my laptop, the family list of grocery needs from the fridge and the sales flyers. Keeping our list of grocery needs in mind, I browse through the sales flyers and look to see who has the best price on each item we need. On my laptop, I type up a list for each store. For example, last grocery day I had headings for stores like Sobeys, Superstore, Walmart and the farm market.
I also went through my small pile of coupons and chose the ones I could use, then made a note on my list by the items for which I had a coupon because I have a horrible memory and would forget to use them!
Another item that makes my budgeting life easier is a wallet with many organizing compartments. It might sound a little silly, but I have a section to put church collection, a place for dues money for Brownies and Guides, a place to put gas money, another section for grocery money and yet another to stash cash being set aside for something else. There’s a compartment to save receipts and another for coupons. By having cash, I can easily see how much money is left as I go from one store to the next. There is no accidental spending of the gas money or using up the change set aside for the kids’ extracurricular activities. This simple everyday item makes a big difference in my money managing strategy!
Remember to allow yourself enough time to make your stops, don’t go shopping hungry, and be creative with planning your meals. A package of meat that is on sale can often be used to make more than one meal and is so much healthier for you than a prepackaged, highly processed meal. Have fun and happy shopping!