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Groceries eat into your budget

By Camille Stimach, Peridot Consulting, Inc. Budget Specialist

Many of us are cost conscious when we eat out - saving to splurge for a special event or eating out at expensive restaurants during restaurant week. People understand the food bill will be higher because they are paying more for drinks and tipping which is why they usually save it for a special occasion.

We seem to turn off the “budget calculator” in our brain, however, when we go grocery shopping thinking to ourselves, “groceries are a necessity.” We often then don’t pay attention to the final total like we do when we go out to eat.

In my years of working with clients, the average grocery bill is 3 times what is needed to feed their size family. This is especially concerning when when clients do not have cash reserves for savings. There is a limit people that you should pay attention to at the grocery store.

Does organic justify the additional cost?

Some people say I can only shop at high end grocery stores like Whole Foods and Earth Fare because of they want a selection of organic foods. However, today, almost every grocery store offers organic options and consumers can now cost compare organic prices.

So, does this mean you have permission to eat out all the time?

One of the biggest but unnoticeable leaks to your budget is fast food and coffee. The brain says, “It was only 2.50 and that was only 3.00” The problem there people is that when you start adding up all these 2.00 here and 1.75 there you end up spending hundreds of dollars each month. I witness this many times when analyzing my client’s spending habits.

Tips to reduce your grocery store spending:

  • Don't be a snob about which store you go to

  • Plan your meals ahead of time

  • NEVER go to grocery store hungry

  • Be realistic about what you are actually going to eat and not throw away (produce/fruit)

  • Don't shop for less than 1 weeks worth of food, lots of little trips here and there add up.

When you can splurge at the grocery store (or eating out, for that matter):

  • you make unlimited amounts of money

  • have a solid retirement

  • have no debt

  • have 6 month cash reserves and

  • all your bills are easily paid each month then by all means

However, I can think of better ways to spend money but if you had all the above then you can splurge all you want!

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