If you are still struggling to pay your rent, or to build your savings up to $1000 dollars in your emergency fund, then you know, every little bit helps.
I personally know folks that spend over $500 a week on groceries and more than that on eating out. When you’re making 6 figures a year that’s not a big chunk of your income but it’s still significant…
Either way, wouldn’t you rather eat really well AND save a ton of money on your grocery and food costs each month so that you can invest it or go spend it on your next travel adventure? I mean imagine saving an extra $500, $1000, or $1500 a month (if you were spending $2k before on dining and eating out), that would be $6,000, $12,000 and $18,000 respectively.
So no matter where you are, using these simple tips can help you save more at the grocery store and effectively eat out less.
1. Make a List Before You Leave for the Grocery Store
This alone with save you time and money should you choose to employ it.
I actually learned this strategy from the book “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy“, where the author, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley goes on to study the wealthiest people in America and their habits and what he believes makes them so successful.
What he finds is that they have a series of habits they employe to save time, save money, lower capital risk and to enjoy more life. It’s a strangely interesting read and I highly recommend it, but even if you don’t get the book take this one nuggets of wisdom.
Make a list before you go shopping. Not only will you save yourself years, yes years, shopping but you will also spend less as you will be more conscious of your core needs and begin to recognize your expenses for what they are, needs vs. wants.
IF you were to save an extra half hour each week shopping, and you lived an average lifetime of 80 years, assuming you started this habit when you were 20, you could stand to see an extra 65 days added back to your life just by making a list and shopping from that list. Not to mention the cost savings of not buying things you either already have or actually don’t need…
2. Eat Before you Go To The Store and Go Out:
Early on in my Debt repayment period, I learned that if I ate before going to the grocery store that I would be able to shop for longer, and without getting hungry, thus spending less money.
This isn’t just true for shopping for food, this goes for shopping in general.
If you are hungry, you will buy more, there is even some science that shows this is the case in multiple studies conducted about buying behavior and hunger.
3. If you are Going to Drink Coffee, Brew it at Home
The average cup of coffee runs right about $4 a cup, depending on which city you live in and whether or not you subscribe to snob mentality or bum mentality (high society coffee vs. anything that’s black and taste like coffee will do…).
This being said, if you’re day starts off with a $4 cup of joe then right there you are looking at an expense of right around $120 a month. If you are paying $7 a cup then you are looking at $220 a month and so on.
4. Stop Buying Organic
First of all, organic is a joke.
Secondly, by not buying organic you will not only be saving money, you will also be not supporting an asinign industry where the process is designed to charge you more money for a premium version of an inexpensive product to produce.
Why should we need to pay premium prices for fruits and vegetables? Shouldn’t the healthy stuff be the least expensive since fruits and vegetables have some of the highest yield in agriculture (in terms of calories and nutrition out per resource put in – certainly a lot higher than animal agriculture).
The answer? Corporate greed.
Organic only means that the people selling this product will charge you more for the food than the other stuff.
Also, eating organic food doesn’t guarantee that you will get healthier.
If you can’t go to the farm and find out what pesticides they are using then I wouldn’t expect the organic product to be any safer than the non-organic product next to it.
Here’s a pretty in depth, and well researched, article explaining some of the common misconceptions about organic agriculture and why people perceive it to be safer than non-organic products.
The big take aways are that (1) organic and non-organic crops have similar nutritional values (2) there are synthetic chemicals allowed in organic agriculture (3) People perceive synthetic chemicals as more toxic when in reality naturally occurring compounds can have an even greater toxicity.
Read more about it here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/natural-vs-synthetic-chemicals-is-a-gray-matter/
So what is the solution? The solution is to just shop in season, shop locally when possible, get to know your neighborhood farms, and start to learn how to grow your own crops like John Kohler from growingyourgreens.com does.
Another reason I don’t shop organic just for the sake of organic, there is a “certification and application process” which can cost as much as $1200…
If there is a $200 non refundable application fee, and the cost to get certified is around $1000 dollars, depending on your state… then you should be able to CHARGE more for your food right? Wrong.
Why would we charge $1200 for farms to produce a “healthier food” when in reality the information is available for free on the internet and the food supply would benefit from becoming this (if it was truly better?).
Oh that’s right, because of mega corporations like Monsanto who want to own the food supply.
Why is this the defacto mentality?
Why don’t we just make a free organic certification course allowing anyone who wants to learn to organic farm? Ah because in a free market competition is key and it helps the consumer get better deals…
Bull. It hurts the farmers, it hurts the consumer, it hurts everyone but the corporations. So why don’t we just buy local and skip the big guys?
5. Meal Prep your food for the week
If you do breakfast at home and lunch and dinner on the go then you are probably looking at another $12-25 a meal for lunch, depending on how fancy you go, and another $20+ for dinner.
One of my friends told me there isn’t a day that goes by he doesn’t spend at least $50… $50 a day of food?
That’s over $1500 a month minimum that you are forking out for stuff that you could make at home for less AND make it healthier.
That’s a whoppin’ $18,000 that could be going into your savings each month if you choose to give up a little bit of the excess.
On average my girlfriend and I spend about $1.25 to make a meal that we do in batches.
Depending on which part of the country you live in you could be looking at more or less, but still your cost will probably be around 15% of the cost of a restaurant meal.
Well you have to look at all the costs involved with that restaurant meal,
- Labor – a good 33% of the food cost is the people making it
- Materials – 15-20% of the food cost is the raw materials (usually its on the lower end and can be lower depending on the restaurants buying power).
- Overhead – Let’s say 20-40% depending on the location (it can be much more or much less depending on if we are talking about food trucks vs. 5 star michelan restaurants, but this number is just an example of what you could possibly be paying).
- Margin or Profit – Usually no more than <15% for restaurants. Yes, you are paying for someone to profit, the owner of the business is going to get paid for the service because they provided the capital to start the business, they train the employees, they negotiate the food deals, and they do all of the setup work to make this possible to eat at this location. If you want food to eat but you didn’t pack your lunch or you want to entertain clients then you are going to get to use this persons establishment to gain food in exchange for money that they earned. If you don’t think it’s fair, then buy your own meals and pack your lunch.
If you make your meals 6 days a week and then go out to eat on that 7th day that is fine! You will still be saving roughly 75% of your former food costs… And if you couple this with meal prep and productive shopping you could be adding a whole lot to your bottom line savings and debt repayment plan.
6. Have a Cooking Party at Your Place to Boost Your Savings
What about entertaining friends Kristian?!
Guess what, rich people have dinner parties too… You can invite friends over for Dinner and cook some of the new awesome meals you’ve learned how to make from pinterest…just kidding.
But this does two things,
(1) it lets you learn to cook, men, this is attractive to women. Seriously though there are a million ideas on food prep on pinterest and my girlfriend gets all her ideas from that site.
And (2) it saves you money but still gives you the social aspect that you are craving.
You want to spend time with friends and enjoy time together, then cook a simple meal and invite your friends over for a potluck once a week, every 2 weeks or even just once a month.
I see people of the Hispanic community here in Texas do it all the time, why? Because it’s part of their culture to spend time with friends and family, but it’s only part of American culture to spend excessively…
They are able to have the same amount of fun only without having to pay the 85% more for food and labor costs of going out.
So am I saying that you can’t go out to eat ever? No I’m not saying that, but what I am saying is that if you are struggling to get out of debt it doesn’t make much sense to go out and spend 70-85% more on food than you need to…
So save your money, learn to cook, learn to meal prep, shop when full, brew your coffee at home, buy local but don’t stress about organic, and enjoy life a little. It’s not a race to a Million dollars like some folks want you to think it is, it’s about enjoying life and spending it with the people that you enjoy being around the most.
If you have to grind your life away to make a million bucks only to be left wondering where your health went, did you really “win”? I don’t think so.
What do you think? Is money the most important thing? Do you employ any of these tactics to save money? Have you used these to help get out of debt?
Let me know what you think in the comments below and be sure to share this with your friends and family and stay tuned for next week.