We all gotta eat, so that means we must shop for groceries. Unless, of course, you've been fortunate enough to acquire the means to hire a personal chef or all your meals consist of take-out Chinese, pre-packaged convenience store "food," and trips through the local fast food drive-thru.
While some people love the process of strolling the aisles, gathering up the weeks' edibles, others dread the trip and wish the food would magically appear in their pantries and fridge. Perhaps it's the crowds of shoppers fighting for that last ripe avocado, the bright lights and slippery floors, or maybe it's the amount of dough they're spending on their dough (and other stuff) each time they hit up the local grocer.
Of the gripes one may have, the one they can control is how much money is spent each time it's time to go grocery shopping. Here are 5 money-saving tips anyone can use and still come home with bags full of fresh (or packaged) foods and beverages. Is your mouth watering yet?
Stick to Your List
Before heading out to the market, take inventory of what you're out of and what you plan to cook or eat during the week. After you've perused and planned, write out a simple list, organized by category (dairy, snacks, produce, etc.) or placement in the grocery store. This is your list and that's that. If you see something tempting at the store, if it's not on your list, you're not buying it. Simple as that. Allow your self-control to hold more weight than a seasonal display of pumpkin spice truffles.
As per PopSugar, "If you follow the list, you won't be buying more than you need or buying unnecessary items. There are even free printable grocery lists online that let you check off which groceries you need. A good one to check out is the very detailed Ultimatest grocery list."
Shop Mid-Week (and preferably, just once a week)
Annette Economides, the co-author of Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family tells Time Money, "The less you shop, the more you save." Sounds obvious, but when each trip is a new experience, it may not register how much you're spending overall for the week when it's spaced out. A $20 trip to the market may seem reasonable, but times that by 3 or 4 and the spend adds up quickly.
Additionally, certain days of the week may yield more savings. Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert tells Bankrate, "Wednesdays are a great time to get your hands on those manager markdowns. Food that is nearing its 'sell by' date is typically reduced midweek. Grocery stores also release new circulars on Wednesdays, so you get a double bonus since stores usually honor last week's deals, too." Looks like "hump day" is the best day to fill up your "paper or plastic!"
Clipping coupons and perusing weekly circulars won't take long but the money you save will go a long way. Compare and contrast brands and see if your favorite brand is really worth the money.
Store specials pop up every week and they are worth considering. If you normally buy a name brand pasta but the store brand is half-off, your family will never know the difference when they are asking for seconds of your famous penne primavera.
And couponing isn't what it used to be. Like nearly everything else, you can access coupons online. As per PopSugar, "Be sure to check out online coupon sites like Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, SmartSource.com, and CouponNetwork.com, which are apparently the best sites to print from. Further, 'like' your favorite brands on Facebook to get access to some of the coupons they give out over the social media network."
Huffington Post reminds us that savings from coupons can be stretched even further. "Double your savings by combining coupons with what's on sale at your local store. The store's circular is the best way to know what's being promoted." Plus, some stores offer a "double coupon day" where the savings can be multiplied, so try to shop on that day for even more money left in your pocket!
Snack Before You Shop
Going to the supermarket on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster – both financially and for your waistline. Instead of sticking to your shopping list and buying the best foods for you and your family, you'll be tempted into anything and everything that looks delicious – many times high-priced and not-so-good-for-you items.
Time Money notes, "A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that consumers are likely to spend more if their appetites have been stimulated beforehand. That's probably why baked goods and rotisserie chickens are placed by the entrance of the store. Combat those tempting odors by eating a mint—which satiates hunger and can help overwhelm other scents—or by making sure your belly is full."
You don't have to have a 3-course meal if that's not convenient or it's not the right time. Simply grab a piece of fruit or a protein bar. It will give you enough power to combat all those temptations. And don't bring along someone who's "hangry" either… they'll sabotage your willpower!
Try a Meal Delivery Service Instead
If all this grocery shopping how-to info's got ya down, a meal delivery service may be just what you need. Starting at just $8.74 per serving, Blue Apron will deliver farm-fresh, seasonal produce, no-hormone added meats and poultry, sustainably-sourced seafood, and all the other recipe needs you'll require in order to make healthy and quick meals for your family. Get started with a plan that's perfect for you.
Time to save and crave! Get shopping!
When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.