How to save hundreds on grocery shopping

It was during our post-workout breakfast this morning that Anne-Marie (my better half) and I ended up discussing an unusual topic; bread.

It seems as though our much-needed morning conversations adopted a new theme since we started with our healthy streak again, thus food-related topics are to be expected.

What made this particular discussion so unusual however is that we were debating the price at which we purchase our bread. Of all things important …

The discussion picked up pace when she suggested that we rather buy her preferred brand of bread, at a higher cost. She bases this suggestion on the fact that this brand of bread has a more pleasant taste and stays fresher for longer. My mind on the other hand is organised chaos and the way I reason is at times exaggerated, to say the least.

I prefer to purchase a loaf of bread for under R10. That way I know that if I allocate R150 in my budget towards bread, I can afford to buy a loaf of bread every second day and, of course, the change from each loaf of bread adds up. Simply put; we save.

The bread Anne-Marie insists on cost around R12 per loaf and therefore, in my mind, we will lose money should we decide to start buying that brand.

Anyway, I had lost the battle, and it isn’t that big a deal as we can afford the “upgrade” in brand.

My reaction to the bread suggestion might seem petty, but I want my brain to react that way; disciplined and stubborn when it comes to spending more on consumables that can be bought at a lower cost.

During my teenage and ‘young adult’ years (not so long ago) I didn’t understand the value of ‘a few bucks’ and definitely didn’t grasp the fact that a few rand worth of change/ savings every month, could turn into a lot of money. Today, I am well aware that every cent you save is another brick in the walkway that leads to your financial well being.

I have implemented this mind set during my monthly grocery shopping trips.

Stretching money

We should stop seeing change as worthless and start appreciating the value of every penny that returns to our wallets/ pockets.
Luckily, I shop at the cheapest supermarket in our country, which is already beneficial. However, what I am about to say works well in any supermarket. As soon as we buy in large quantities, the smallest amount of money becomes valuable.

When I go shopping, I have a shopping list in hand (this month my better half even wrote estimates of each product’s potential cost on the list) and I take my time in each isle, looking for the best deals.

I look for items that are cheaper than the leading brands, be it by a few cents or a few rand. While I will not compromise on quality or nutritional value (for instance replacing cheddar cheese with processed cheese), I do make sure that we take the cheapest possible product that meet our needs.

During this process, lovey would walk beside me with her calculator, rounding the numbers off to the next (higher) figure. So, if our toothpaste costs R7,80, we will call it R8 flat (never round it off to a lower figure).

Once we reach our budgeted amount – let’s say R1 500 for this exercise – we quickly scan through our trolley, making sure that each priority item is there. Once we are satisfied that we have all the IMPORTANT items (things you cannot go without) and that we are in line with our budget, we proceed to checkout.

We then wait for the cashier to do what he/ she does best while we watch the magic happen.

Our calculator would at this point reflect a number of say 1 489 (under our R1 500 budget). When the last item is scanned, we look at the cashier’s display panel and see an amount of R1 280 …

We now have everything we need for the next month and we walk away with R220

“Dinner’s on me love”.

It’s common sense really. If we decide to buy 200 tubes of cheaper toothpaste at R7.15 each and we round it off to R8, our calculator will display   1 600 while we will be asked to pay only R1 430 at the checkout.

There we have a saving of R170 already. “Okay love, go fetch that box of chocolates you begged for earlier”.

It might not be real magic, but it does help you stick to your budget while turning a few cents into a few hundred rand.

Tihan van der Walt is the author of the Boycott cRedit series. For more money-saving and credit-destroying solutions, buy the first edition Boycott cRedit: for beginners from Smashwords at half price ($3.25 or R31.80). Join him on twitter (@boycott_cRedit) or like his Facebook page.

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