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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

Aircraft Painter, Sports & Lifestyle Blogger

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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