Credit Review

Savings and Credit news, tips, offers, etc. Pretty simple, but hopefully really useful.

Friday, March 31, 2006

5 simple tips to cut your grocery bill in half

Been playing around with the Ideal Budget Calculator over at CNN Money and now I’m absolutely appalled by the amount of money I spend on food. What am I? A whale? I make a decent wage, but my food costs still approach 15% of my income and often outstripped my meager efforts to save and invest. And I know I'm not alone. While many expenses are fixed, groceries often roam freely over one's budget like a hurd of buffalo. With these tips I aim to get out the shot gun and the skinning knife and put an end to this stampede once and for all.

  • Tip #1: Meal plan you duffus!
Yeah yeah, every newspaper, magazine, television show, and dog has been telling you to plan your meals, but do you? Do you know you can actually live quite frugally with minimal effort? As the Hillbilly Housewife discusses in her $45 Emergency Menu you can very easily eat a large and varied diet with just a little bit of planning. Man, just reading these recipes I wish I ate at least this well on what I spend right now.

  • Tip #2: Stick to the edges
Bankrate has a nice 20 ways to save on groceries article that I found very useful. They highlight the fact that you should shop around the edges where the milk, bread, fruits, vegetables, and meats can be found. These items are not only healthier, but they can actually work out to more meals for the dollar. Think about it, you can go a lot further with a sack of potatoes than you can with a bag of tator tots. Likewise a little meal planning will turn a package of hamburger into two or three meals that will end up being half the price of the equivalent frozen dinners and can of Campbell’s Chunky soup (can you believe they named it Chunky? How un-politically correct.).

  • Tip #3: Bring your lunch
The classic joke goes something like this: back in soviet Russia your lunch would bring you to work! Ok, so maybe that is lame. The point is that you should avoid eating out at all costs (pun intended). In iamnext's College Finances: Spend Less on Groceries article they remind us that bringing your lunch is easy, cost effective, and often better smelling and tasting than the alternative (bankruptcy).

  • Tip #4: Shop quickly!
Did you know that studies show that for every 30 seconds you spend in a store over 30 minutes you will spend $.50 that you wouldn't have spent before? I have little doubt in my mind that stores take advantage of this by spreading things out as much as possible, moving their location from time to time, and placing all those tasty snacks at the end of each isle. To read more check out eSSORTMENT's Moneys saving tips for the kitchen.

Go ahead, you've been shopping for 45 minutes, you deserve 25 Cookies and a 2 Liter Coke.

  • Tip #5: Ignore the fat on the middle shelf
Ever wonder why your table is not 6 feet tall? You'd be less inclined to use it (Duhh!). The same is true on the grocery isle. Marketers know you are more likely to put something at chest level into your cart, so that is where they put the higher margin and more expensive products. Use the top and bottom shelves to find non-name brand products that are just as good and cost a lot less. Marketers also know that lots of smart shoppers already ignore their high margin product placements, so they often launch "ugly" brands (products with ugly wrapping) to sit on the bottom shelf. They don't really care if you spend $1.99 or $1.29 for that can of soup, just as long as you buy it from them. Even Dummies know that!

So there you have it. I hope this helps you. I'd be delighted to hear about your own grocery savings ideas. Please post any in the comments section.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Get a signup bonus with Sharebuilder

Sharebuilder is offering a signup deal (not an affliate link) where they give you $50 and a copy of the generic sounding "Guide to long-term investing with Stocks and ETFs". Still, $50 isn't chump change. You need to deposit $50, make one share purchase, and wait 4-6 weeks to get your bonus. There are no minimums, no inactivity feeds, transaction fee is only $4, and you don’t have to buy whole stocks.

You can get get a little bit better deal if you are a Costco member. Executive Members get $85 (plus 25% rebate on fees) and Gold Star/Business members get $65 (plus 10% rebate).