Recently while shopping for groceries at the local discount grocery store I was reminded of a simple way to save money. Read the labels. Do the math. Two different orange juices sit side by side on the shelf. One is in a cardboard carton, the other in a plastic bottle. Both contain the same quantity and type of juice. The carton is .75 cheaper than the plastic bottle.
In the same area were two packages of dried instant mashed potatoes. One box is slightly more colorful than the other. Quantity and type match exactly. The more colorful box is .50 more expensive. Whenever possible, it is usually cheaper and healthier to cook foods from scratch. Convenience comes with a price. Compare the cost yourself. Try buying “staple items” and cooking with these items rather than buying prepackaged items. Enlist family or friends to cook together with you. Have fun with it. Experiment with techniques and seasonings. Cooking with basic ingredients, especially fresh from the garden, is healthier and tastier. Foods can be adjusted for special dietary needs.
This is a great way to enrich the quality of your life without exceeding your budget. A bit of planning ahead is the key to good grocery shopping. Never shop when hungry. Always read the labels both on the shelves and on the individual items. Remember that quality counts. Saving a dollar on a bottle of generic dish soap does no good if the dish soap requires us to use three times as much to wash the same amount of dishes. In this case, buying the generic could actually end up costing more than buying the same sized brand item. Shop with your brain, not your eyes and ears. Use a list and stick to it. This reduces impulse spending. Be ready to look both high and low on shelves for the more economical items. Impulse items and more expensive items are stocked conveniently at eye level. Assume the more prominently displayed items are not the most economical items. Again, read the fine print. Look up high and down low for other options. Make smart choices.
So called “retail therapy” is a major threat to budgeting effectively. If you find yourself feeling depressed, shopping is not the answer. Read an uplifting book, exercise, go for a walk, pick up a new hobby. Live your life fully, not stressfully. Discipline is hard in the moment but, in the long run, your life will be better for it.