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Knowing Your Grocery Bill


Your New Retirement Puzzle

June 14, 2020

Knowing Your Grocery Bill

Grocery spending has been rising during the pandemic. Not only are shoppers grabbing more when in the stores to avoid multiple trips but the prices of items like meat, fish, and eggs have risen month over month since April. Industry analysts think this may be the new normal for a while, despite states slowly reopening.

The reason? Every step of the process, from farming and producing to processing and stocking, has become more expensive with increased personnel and product safety guidelines. Next time you are in the grocery store, stop and notice the increased sanitation measures like plexiglass barriers and staff constantly wiping down areas of high traffic. These things likely will not be going away.

In meeting with clients over the years, one major common budgeting pain point is grocery spending. Many do not even know where to begin. So how much should you be spending at your local supermarket?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent figures, in 2018 Americans spent an average of 9.7% of their disposable income on food. The split between restaurants and grocery were fairly even but it is safe to say in 2020, the bill is mostly being paid to the grocery stores. In fact, spending 10% of your budget on food is actually a good number to shoot for. Anything above that and you may want to assess ways to save.

A couple of methods I like to employ:

  • Technology - this word that pops up in seemingly everything we do these days. In Atlanta, many folks shop at Kroger for their groceries. Kroger started a grocery pickup service called Pickup (formerly ClickList) which allows you to shop online, select a time to pick up, and have your groceries brought to your car when you arrive at the store. The cost? $5. Not as high as you would think! It is certainly worth it when you consider you can make a shopping list and stick to it because you aren't wandering around a physical store. Plus, you can easily use the Kroger coupons on the website instead of rifling through your wallet, taking up your time and everyone else's sitting in line trying to find the coupons you cut out at home. Check out your local grocery store for these types of services.
  • Buy Private Label - there is nothing wrong with buying the store brand. In fact, on average, the store brand is 20-30% cheaper than the national name brands. Often times, the taste is just as good or better!
  • Frozen Foods - I'm not here to argue healthy options vs. non-healthy or organic vs. not, but what cannot be argued is finances: frozen foods have not seen the price increases that the meat, beef, and eggs have.

Everyone should also consider cooking meals from scratch so you can re-use many of the ingredients. Though dining at restaurants has gone down, it is still very expensive to purchase prepared meals from the store and they don't last nearly as long. Employing this tip, as well as the ones above, should help you curtail some of that grocery spending you have been trying to change for years.


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