No, you’re not imagining that groceries cost more nowadays. Food inflation hit an all-time high last year during the lockdown, and experts expect the trend to continue in 2021.
That means you’re in for another year (at least) of dropping a mini fortune at the grocery store. With other expensive bills on your plate, it’s never been more important to address your shopping habits to save money.
While the rising prices may be out of your control, how you shop is something you can influence. Cutting out these mistakes from your routine could take a bite out of your grocery bills.
Mistake #1: Using Personal Loans or Lines of Credit
Sure, groceries are getting more expensive every day, but you should never reach for a line of credit or installment loan for bad credit at the supermarket. These financial products help people with bad credit handle unexpected emergencies, at a time when they’re out of savings and other options.
In Mississippi, the state that has the lowest average credit scores in the country, financial institutions like MoneyKey offer online installment loans for Mississippi residents who need help with unexpected household or auto repairs and emergency medical expenses.
They don’t recommend using installment loans for groceries because it’s an expected, regular expense you’ll have to face once a month, if not more frequently.
Before dipping into credit, try cutting discretionary from your budget instead. Anything you manage to cut will free up more cash that can go towards food.
Mistake #2: Shopping at Luxury Stores
You can wind up paying a lot for your groceries simply because of the sign on the building. Shopping for produce at the organics luxury brand Whole Foods costs 25% more than if you went to Walmart.
Walmart joins the following stores as the cheapest places to get your groceries:
- Market Basket
Mistake #3: Buying in Bulk All the Time
Time and time again, financial gurus will recommend buying in bulk to save at the till. On the surface, this is sound advice. Most bulk food items are cheaper per ounce than you can get a lot for less. But in practice, bulk food can cause you to spend more than you realize.
While the price per unit may be lower, the price tag of a bulk bag of rice is more expensive upfront than a smaller bag with a higher per-unit-cost simply because of its size. If you’re already struggling to make ends meet, you may not be able to afford the upfront price to snag the long-term savings.
For another thing, you can wind up wasting food. If you aren’t prepared to go through a tub of mayonnaise the size of your torso before its expiration date, you could be throwing away money along with the moldy container.
So, the next time you think about buying bulk, avoid perishable items unless you can guarantee you won’t waste them. Focus on pantry items, and consider shopping with a friend or family member. You can split the cost of a bag of onions and not have to worry about going through them before they go fusty.
If you make any of the mistakes listed above, it’s time to change your ways. Flipping the script on your usual shopping routines could take a big bite out of your next grocery bill. Remember this as you see the cost of groceries rise in the coming months. They can help you weather food inflation better than most.