The earlier we start saving long-term the more secure our retirement and the bigger our pot are likely to be. So, if you are going to save you need to factor it into your weekly expenditure. In fact, by analysing your weekly expenditure, you can determine how you can cut down out-goings too.
The weekly food shop is at the centre of our essential family expenditure. So, this is a good place to start streamlining spending and increase saving for a better future. Easier said than done perhaps but let’s look at some tips to put you on the right track.
Use the same shop for your main shopping
When going to a new shop you do not know where everything is located within the aisles, so you are more likely to buy something you come across on impulse. That something is likely to be a commodity which is not essential and will unnecessarily bump up your weekly budget.
Most stores now offer some form of loyalty card. By shopping at the same store, you can benefit from this and receive savings on your essential items.
Making this change also gives you a clearer idea of overall prices and you can judge how long a product will last, its quality, and its value. Buying from many different shops at one time offers diversity but shopping also becomes more chaotic. The overall budget becomes more difficult to track.
Know what you are going to buy
If you use a shopping list, you are much more likely to avoid impulse buying. You are also more likely to keep to your budget. Your most important buys are going to be your essentials, which no doubt will become the usual suspects. Keep these at the core of your weekly shop. If you have money left over then you can treat yourself to that little bit extra.
Know why you are trying to save
Keeping the reason for saving front of mind is likely to ensure that you keep to your set budget as far as you can. This could be simply to make your income stretch to cover all your family needs. It could be you have a debt you need to pay off or a large commodity you need to buy.
You may also be looking further to the future and wanting to have savings put aside for that inevitable rainy day or more long-term for your pension. If you keep a clear, concrete reason to save money in your mind when you shop you are much more likely to ignore supermarket temptations and put your energies into keeping within your budget boundaries.
Have a budget and stick to it
There will obviously be some weeks which turn out to be more expensive than others so instead of specifying a set figure – commit to a range. For instance, the budget may have a range of between £50 and £60. This allows for flexibility. Also keep track of what you are spending throughout the month. When there is a cheap week, you can allow yourself a little more flexibility, if things have become a little expensive, you can pull your belt in a little.
Essentials or treats
Before finalising your shopping list, do a quick tour of your house to make sure you have covered all your essentials. On the list itself, you may place products in the order in which you will come across them in the aisles but ensure you clarify in your mind what is essential and what is a treat. Therefore, if you get close to budget limits, you know what to leave behind.
Think twice about those tempting offers
Supermarkets are ace at making us buy. They are also very clever at putting out great offers that will not save us any money at all. First and foremost, everything comes back to your shopping list. Is that great offer on your list? If not, are you really saving money or paying out more money on something you do not really need? Buying 2 for 1: do you need 2? Can your budget take it? Will that second one ever be used? At the end of the day, the supermarket wants you to spend more money. When an offer does save you money, it may not be a saving that is right for your circumstances. Think twice.
Take the miles into consideration
Before you even get to the shops, start thinking about what it will cost to get there. Travelling costs need to be considered when calculating total expenditure. So, if the shop is some distance – why are you using this outlet? Is there a good reason? If not, is there a closer outlet that will cost less on mileage.
Does brand matter?
We all have our favourite brands and, in the majority of cases, brands are more expensive than their off-brand alternatives. So once in a while consider checking out the latter – you may be pleasantly surprised and also save a few pennies as well!
Shop after you have eaten!
Strangely, the time you shop will probably affect how much you put in your basket. If your tummy is calling out to you in the aisles, those favourite foods are going to seem even more tempting. Also, when your stomach is full, shopping tends to become a laborious task rather than an adventure with food. So shopping straight after lunch, breakfast or even dinner is a great way to put money away for your retirement.
Be careful of the treat trap!
Ok, so you have got around the supermarket safely, but you are not out of the danger zone yet. There are more temptations as you approach the cashier desk than anywhere else in the store. Supermarkets know that when consumers are waiting in line, they are more likely to be tempted by those tiny impulse buys – like a packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate etc. You will see boxes of them around the tills. It may seem like just a tiny spend at the time, but those pennies will soon add up – so beware of the trap. Keep to the list and your budget.
These tips can be tough in many ways. It may even feel as if you are denying yourself special treats. For those of us who have tried sticking to a diet, it is often this aspect which is hardest to deal with. So hold onto the reason why you are saving and also maybe factor into your spend a short-term treat you can look forward to.