Groceries are a major part of a family’s budget. From the food items you need to have to those convenience items that would make life simply difficult, groceries cost money. You make the weekly trek to your favorite grocery store and plop down what often feels like a fortune.
Sure, there are ways to save money on your grocery bill. Chances are, however, you’re already doing them. Clipping coupons comes and goes in terms of how fashionable it is, for example; right now we’re at a high point with shows like “Extreme Couponing” to tell us how to do it. Even if you’re not an extreme couponer, chances are you clip a few here and there.
You’re no slouch when it comes to shopping the sales, either. You stock up on your staples when there’s a good deal. Yet there are a number of unconventional ways you can save money at the grocery store that may not have occurred to you. Let’s take a look at a few:
1. Electronic Coupons
Today, both manufacturers and retailers are taking advantage of technology in order to deliver savings and promote specific products. Depending on your particular grocery store, you may be able to “clip” virtual coupons which are then automatically loaded onto your customer loyalty card. When you check out, the discounts are automatically applied to your order.
There are a number of different delivery methods for these electronic coupons. Some come as text messages to your cell phone, while others may come from visiting the retailer’s page and selecting specific coupons. Other retailers are taking advantage of social media sites like Facebook and offering exclusive discounts to their followers on those social media sites.
2. Online Grocers
As consumers, we’ve turned to online suppliers for a great number of products. One of the best examples of this, of course, is the world of books. We’ve seen retail book giant Borders close their doors, and we’ve seen other bookstores do the same. Meanwhile, book sales at Amazon.com and other sites continue to grow. (To be sure, books are unique in that they’re also being transferred to an electronic medium, something that won’t work with corn flakes).
There are a number of sites today where you can find decent deals on the same items you might buy at the grocery store. The key with these kinds of transactions, of course, is to watch shipping costs. If you have a membership to one of these sites (Amazon Prime being one of the most widely-known examples) you can eliminate shipping costs. You’re not likely to be able to buy all of your groceries online, but you can save significantly on a few items.
3. Grocery Cooperatives
One of the more interesting movements in the past few years has been the neighborhood grocery co-op. Think of the grocery co-op as the grocery store equivalent of a credit union. It’s owned by the members, and it provides services for those members.
Grocery cooperatives enjoy wholesale cost savings without the kind of overhead that’s normally necessary to run a supermarket. Typically, grocery cooperatives focus on staple food items, rather than on those specialty items you might only need from time to time. The key is to make sure that nothing in the cooperative passes its shelf life, saving even more money for the cooperative.
Getting a cooperative started can take quite a bit of work, but once it’s up and running it can be a source of significant savings for staple items.
4. Rewards Credit Cards
Today, most consumers have at least one credit card that gives them some sort of reward. In many cases, that reward takes the form of airline miles or points. However, there are also cash-back cards, some of which offer higher rewards based on what kinds of purchases you’re making. For example, there are cards that will offer you as much as 4% cash back on grocery purchases.
As always, the key with credit cards is to make sure you’re able to pay off the bill each month. It doesn’t do much good to get 4% cash back if you’re spending significant amounts of money on interest charges or fees.
Just because groceries are necessary doesn’t mean they have to be terribly expensive. Look into some of these unconventional ways to reduce your grocery bill, and you’ll watch your savings go even deeper than you previously thought possible.
John Haller is the founder of Fidelity One Credit, a company changing how car title loans are provided. Fidelity One Credit offers revolving lines of credit instead of installment based loans. This provides consumers a flexible payment plan instead of fixed payment plan.
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