I grew up having very little knowledge about handling and saving money. I thought, “How would I know?” when there’s only little or no money at all to manage in our household. What I remember is that my parents would always argue about money and the lack of it.
It’s only when I started working and earning my own money that I learned how to handle and save money. I learned how to budget my very little salary to cover all my expenses and to save a portion of it.
I also learned to become wise when grocery shopping. I make sure I have a list of only the important items that I need to buy. I strictly stick to my grocery budget and I do everything I could to save money by walking to the grocery store if possible, by taking advantage of promos and items on sale, and by buying essential items in bulk or wholesale if that would mean I could get some for free.
If you are spending too much money on your groceries and you are interested on how to save money each month without compromising the quality and quantity of your grocery list, these tips might help…
Walk towards the grocery store
The price of gasoline these days continue to go up, which is why it is a good idea to come up with ways to lessen your vehicle usage. One of which would be to walk towards the grocery store, especially if it is just a few blocks away from your place. Make it fun by walking with your spouse or child, so that aside from saving money, you both can also shed some weight.
I’m glad that there are 3 grocery stores near our place. There’s Savemore which is just a few blocks away from our house and which only takes 5 minutes for me to walk going there; there’s Daily Supermarket which is a bit farther, but I can definitely walk going there for about 10-15 minutes; and there’s Isetan Supermarket, which is a few steps away from Daily Supermarket but offers great deals.
How much do I save?
- ₱0 – If I walk from the house to the grocery store, I don’t have to spend anything for gas or transpo.
- Advantage – I save money, I get to exercise which is good for my health
- Disadvantage – I spend more time by walking
- ₱17 – If I commute by riding the tricycle going to Savemore or Daily, that would cost me ₱17 one way.
- Advantage – I save money than when I drive my own car, I save time, No need to park the car
- Disadvantage – I still spend money
- ₱30-50 – If I drive the car, that would cost me around ₱30-50 for gas consumption and ₱10-20 tip for the parking boy if there’s one.
- Advantage – It’s convenient, I save time
- Disadvantage – I spend more money for gas, and sometimes, it’s hard to find a parking space, which eats up my time and my gas!
Each of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. So, it’s up to you decide which option works best for you. If you’re a busy person and you don’t have time to walk, I suggest you commute. You may spend money, but you save time by not having to walk and find a parking slot. If you have a car and you have more time, then you may bring it and enjoy the convenience of having your own car.
If you don’t have a car, or you’re short on budget and and you want to save money by not commuting, and you like the idea of exercising, I guess you know what to do. Walk! 🙂
Compare the prices among the grocery stores
Although there’s what they call the Suggested Retail Price or SRP, the items found in supermarkets have different prices.
Based on my experience, most of the items from Savemore are a bit more expensive than those from Daily and Isetann.
For example, a red wine that I bought at Isetann one time only costs ₱160. But when I checked the price at Daily it was ₱170, and at Savemore, ₱180. And when I came across the same item at 7-11 convenience store, guess what, it’s ₱220!
Be wise when you’re grocery shopping. Compare the prices and shop at the grocery store that sells the same brand and quality, but at a cheaper price.
There are grocery stores and even bookstores today, which offer customer rewards programs. If the store that you usually purchase items from offer it, then you should sign up with them.
Even if the prices of some items at Savemore are a bit higher than the other grocery stores, I like it that they have SM Advantage Card that allows me to earn rewards points, which can be as good as cash when I have enough points. For example, last week, I checked the points on my SM Advantage card and I was able to buy a shampoo and conditioner using the points. That’s ₱200 in savings!
Although it takes some time to rack up some points, it can still provide you with something, which can help you extend your budget. Aside from that, some of these reward programs can also give you coupons and discounts on certain items.
Btw, Isetan also has a rewards card, while Daily doesn’t have one.
Use a Cashback Credit Card for your Groceries
If you are a wise shopper and credit card user, you may use your credit card for your groceries. And what I mean by being wise is that you don’t use your credit card to buy anything you want. I’ve had credit cards for several years now and I know how tempting it is to buy something (even if it’s not important) when using a credit card than when I pay it in cash.
Specifically, I use my HSBC Cashback Credit card for my groceries because I get cashback every month. Our monthly grocery spend is around ₱10,000 and I usually receive more or less ₱50 cashback. Not bad, is it? That amount can already pay for a month’s worth of dish washing liquid or additional condiments.
Below is our grocery spend for May. It’s not a lot because we were out of town for 2 weeks. During this month, we spent almost ₱5,000 and we received ₱22 Cashback.
But if you think you cannot control yourself or you cannot manage your credit card efficiently, I would suggest not to use it. Don’t mind the cashback. Pay your groceries in cash instead.
Prepare a Grocery List
When you are shopping at a grocery store, chances are you would end up going over your budget if you won’t bring a list with you. Thus, it is a good idea to make a list of all the things that you really need. Aside from that though, make sure to take note of the prices of the grocery items, so that you already have an idea how much you are going to spend when you buy your groceries.
Be smart when buying items in bulk
Sometimes, buying in bulk saves us money because it’s offered at a cheaper price or we get an item or two for free. But the question is, do you need all of it? Or are you going to use or consume it immediately?
For example, you bought a bulk of canned goods. Instead of paying ₱50 each, you only paid ₱400 for a box of 10. Yay! You saved ₱100.
Three months later, you realized that you have only eaten 5 and the rest are already expired. Aww! Or let’s say they’re expiring within the week, would you force yourself to eat the remaining 5 just so it won’t end up in the trash? Or would you give it to others?
If this is the case, do you think it’s worth buying in bulk?
Bring your own grocery bags
When you have a bunch of reusable bags at your place, then you can bring it with you when you buy your groceries. Some grocery stores even offer discounts, tokens, or coupons if you bring your own bag for your purchased goods. By doing that, you won’t just be saving money, but you could also be saving the world by using lesser plastic bags.
Most grocery stores charge ₱2 for every plastic bag. It may seem like a small amount, but it’s still an expense and it adds up overtime. When I go grocery shopping, I always make sure that I have my own grocery bag or I ask the cashier/bagger to put my groceries in a box which is free.
Go to the grocery store after eating and not before
When you go to a store to shop for groceries, it is always best to do it after grabbing a snack, or eating lunch. This is because shopping in groceries when you are hungry can make you purchase food items, which you really do not need. In most cases, when you get home from shopping and eat lunch, you would realize later on that you have gone over your budget, for taking in too many food items.
Sometimes, when I buy groceries with my husband, I intentionally don’t go to Daily Supermarket even if most of the items there are cheaper than Savemore because it’s in a location where some fast food restaurants and food stalls are in. My husband has this tendency of buying inexpensive food like siomai, shawarma, chicharon, buko shake, or anything that he could see on our way out of the grocery store.
Yes, they’re inexpensive and I don’t mind buying it, but you know, sometimes it’s unnecessary especially if we have just eaten at home or if we have a tight budget even if he would say, “mura lang naman yan.”
We may have saved ₱5 or ₱10 from the groceries, but we ended up paying more because of the additional items we bought outside the grocery.
You can always say no
If your kids are quite fond of telling you what they want at the grocery store or at the toy store, then you should practice saying no to them. Aside from that, you should also learn to say no to your friends, if they want you to go out with them for drinks. Saying no would not just feel liberating, but it can also help you save some dough.
My five-year old daughter now knows what she wants when we’re at the grocery. She’d pick pencils, crayons, chocolates, cookies, junk food, or anything that’s appealing to her. When I say no, sometimes, she’d throw a tantrum. But I learned to divert her attention to something else and before she knew it, we’re already at home.
Avoid the vending machine
When you want a snack and you visit the vending machine for it, most likely, you would be paying a lot more for the food that you eat, than if you were buying them from the grocery store. Therefore, the next time you purchase goods from the grocery, make sure to include your snack food items.
Put some in your locker at the office so that every time you feel like eating snacks, you don’t have to go to the vending machine. Have some snacks like biscuits or candies in your bag too so that in case you get caught in a heavy traffic and you get hungry, you have something to eat immediately.
Sometimes, when you’re hungry, you may not be able to think about saving money anymore. All you want is to buy whatever is available no matter how much it is.
These saving money tips are meant to give you some suggestions on how you can save money on your groceries. While most of these are based on my own experiences, I suggest you assess first if these are actually applicable to you. If there’s anything in this list that is not applicable to you, then by all means, follow what you think is right or appropriate.
Also, don’t be hard on yourself. If going to the grocery is also your ideal time to treat yourself, then by all means, have that expensive and well-deserved sumptuous meal if there’s one available right in the grocery store or within the area. Just make sure it’s within your budget and you wouldn’t skip some meals before your next salary in exchange for it. 🙂