When my boys were young, and our budget was tight, I clearly remember having this sick feeling every time I was at the grocery check out.
While I was waiting for the customer in front of me, I would be looking over my cart to see if there was any item that we could do without.
I felt I had to justify every purchase because I knew the bill was going to be high.
Now that my sons are grown, my husband and I are the only ones I need to buy for, and groceries are still expensive.
Yet we can control our grocery spending if we use self-discipline and some simple techniques.
Here are some suggestions.
Plan Your Grocery Budget Look over your income and your bills.
Decide how much you can realistically spend on groceries.
If you are planning for the whole month, divide that amount into weeks.
This will give you a guideline to stay within on each trip to the store.
Use a Calculator Don't be embarrassed to bring a calculator to the store.
Record the price of everything you put in your cart, and keep a running total.
Then you won't run the risk of going over your limit for that week.
Use Cash This is helpful to some people.
It's easy to spend too much or impulse buy when you are using a check or debit card.
But when you have cash only, you can't go over that.
If you find that you haven't used all of your grocery allowance, save what's left instead of buying something extra that you don't need.
Keep a Master Shopping List I have a long list of items from "food" to "paper products" to "health and beauty.
" It is typed out and protected in a plastic binder sleeve.
Before I go to the store, I consult my master list.
I can check for things that I might be running low on, and the list helps me not to forget things.
I make my weekly grocery list from that.
Stick to Your List Once you get to the store, stick to your list.
Discipline yourself not to give in to the impulse buying that the store is designed to cause you to do.
Pass it up and give yourself time to think about the item.
By the time you get back to it, you'll probably realize you didn't want it that much.
Use Coupons Wisely I only use coupons if I'm going to buy that item anyway, and if it is cheaper with the coupon than the store or generic brand is.
Some store brands are cheaper than the name brand even when a coupon is used.
Store Specials You may get your store flyer in the mail in the middle of the week.
If not, they are usually right in the front of the store.
Take advantage of these specials, but again, don't buy a lot of things that you don't need or can't afford just because they are on sale.
But if you have the money to take advantage of some specials and stock up, by all means do it while the price is lower.