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15 Simple Ways to Spend Less on Food and Still Eat Well

15 Simple Ways to Spend Less on Food and Still Eat Well

Buying food these days can really be a pain.  Its important to be smart with your spendings so you aren’t investing a whole paycheck just to groceries. The tricky part is spending wisely without sacrificing certain necessities. By following these 15 steps , you can surely put yourself on the right track to eating good on a budget.

1. Avoid Impulse Buys

What I mean by this is when you go into the store to buy your groceries, stay focused on only what you need, rather than at what looks enticing. It’s really easy to go into a store for a gallon of milk, and come out with $30 dollars worth of junk food that you really don’t need, but you got just because it looked yummy.

2. Shop With Your Blinders On

It can be pretty distracting when shopping for food.  You should always avoid buying something you question yourself on if it might get used, or not. If you go into the grocery store with the intention of buying milk, bread, and eggs go straight for those items, and then check out.

3. Stock Up On Frozen Goods

This is also a good idea for canned goods and other dry goods.  What we do in my house is buy these items in bulk when they are cheaper, and in the long run are saving money when the price goes up. Since they have a long stock life, you only have to worry about perishable items more often.

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4. Pack Your Lunches

This is the one that always gets people. These days, it’s just easier to stop at a fast food joint, or eat at a vending machine, rather than packing a lunch. The downfall of doing that is you are sacrificing not only your health, but you are overspending on food that’s not worth it. You can spend $5 on a burger and fries, or you can spend half of that on a packed lunch, and get more food out of it.

5. Use Your Leftovers

Now I don’t know about you, but almost every time we cook dinner in my home there are always leftovers when we are done eating.  A good way to cut back on food waste, and save yourself some money is to simply use these leftovers.  If you are like me, I like to take these leftovers as my packed lunch for work.  This kills two birds with one stone.

6. Share Meals at Restaurants

This is one step I wish I would have known about sooner.  By sharing meals when you go out to eat, you can save yourself a good chunk of money, and still enjoy going out to eat.  If you think about it, there is almost always a lot of extra food leftover at the end of your meals anyways, so why not pick out something that you and somebody else both like, and split it?

7. Use a Grocery App

Using a grocery app can be really useful in your quest to save money.  You can use it to check out the stores deals while you are there, check out exclusive offers (if you are a member), and it can even help you keep track of what you are buying, and or spending.

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8. Create a Shared Family Shopping List

If you are a fast-paced, always on the go family, then this would be really useful for you.  By keeping a cooperative shopping list in the house, everybody can contribute to it, making it easier for who ever does the shopping.  Another benefit to this is it helps reduce the spending on groceries that are unneeded, and that will generally just go to waste.  If everybody can contribute to it as needed, you will have the potential to save some cash.

9. Set Weekly Limits

This is probably one of the most simple concepts, but the hardest to grasp, but it is possible!  By setting a weekly spending limit, you can easily keep track of your spending.

10. Shop Off-Brand

There is no shame in shopping off brand, or store brand items.  They are usually always cheaper than the big name brand items, and usually you cannot tell the difference between the two.

11. Shop The Sales

Always check your local newspaper for sales.  You can always catch good deals when shopping this way, so why not take advantage of it? Also, by doing this you can plan ahead on what grocery store you go to, based on the best deals, saving yourself money.

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12. Become a Coupon-er

We’ve all heard of those extreme couponing people on T.V., the people who go so far out of their way clipping coupons, just to save money.  Why not become one of these people?  Maybe you don’t have to go extreme like the people on t.v., but clipping coupons can be a great way to save money on your groceries.

13. Become a Member

A lot of stores have free little memberships, where all you have to do is pick up a rewards card, sign up via email, and begin saving.  You can be included on exclusive savings, and coupons, and some stores will give you rewards points towards stuff.  These rewards can save you money on groceries, and even at certain places you can earn money off of gas.

14. Eat off the Value Menu

Another way to save money while eating out is to eat off of the value menu.  You can get enough food to fill you up for just a fraction of the cost by eating out this way.  This way you can still enjoy eating out, but you don’t have to pay full price to do so.

15. Set A Limit

One of the best budgeting tips is to take the amount of money you have each month to spend on food and take it out in cash. Then divide the cash into four envelopes, marked with the weeks (week #1, week #2, etc.). Only use one envelope each week and only spend what’s in the envelope.

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Spending money on food can be more stressful than it should be, so why not try to make it a little less of a headache than it has to be?  I hope these tips I came up with can help you, as much as they have helped me.

Featured photo credit: Money/401kcalculator.org via flickr.com

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Michael Daws

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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