The majority of Americans' expenses go toward three things: housing, food and transportation. So cutting costs on groceries can make a major difference throughout the course of the year.
But that's often easier said than done. After all, who hasn't grabbed a few impulse purchases in the checkout line and ended up with more food than necessary?
A simple way to trim your bill before even leaving the store is to pause before checking out and put back three to five items you can live without. Each time you do this, you'll automatically save.
This tip comes from Cherie Lowe, author of "Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After," who shares her own story of financial freedom on her blog, Queen of Free.
Lowe calls the trick her No. 1 money-saving tip . "You will save $5 to $10 every time you shop without cutting a single coupon," she tells CNBC Make It .
The tactic works for two reasons: It puts a barrier between placing an item in your cart and actually paying for it, and it shaves down your bills little by little.
"It's the pause before you check out that I think is so effective," Lowe says, noting that it's especially true in grocery stores, where it's easy to nab appealing items without much thought to how they add up. "There some things that sometimes we pick up and maybe we might need them next week — and it's fine to go ahead and buy them next week — but right now you probably don't [need it]. Just pause and only buy what you really need."
She knows a thing or two about saving money. In 2008, Lowe and her husband, Brian, found themselves more than $127,000 in debt thanks to credit cards, student loans, car payments and other miscellaneous expenses. They buckled down and focused on building an emergency fund, rejiggering their tax withholdings, taking on side hustles, giving up restaurant meals and living with less. Just shy of four years later, the Lowes were able to pay off their debt in full.
In addition to pausing and reevaluating your cart before checkout, there are a number of other ways you can keep your grocery bills low. Start by creating a meal plan for the week and sticking to it, so you avoid over-buying.
If you'd rather plan as you go, you can also price compare and shop outside of your neighborhood, choose generic items over brand name ones, swap out meat for veggies a few times per week or go cash-only (having only a predetermined amount of money stops impulse or expensive buys).
Here are more ways to jump-start your savings:
- I spent 1 month cooking all of my meals—here are my 7 best tips for saving on groceries
- The best cash back credit card if you love to cook
- This simple meal planning strategy will help you save money and reduce waste
Check out last week's One-Minute Money Hack: 3 easy things you can do to trim your monthly expenses and save
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