Juggling household bills?  Not quite sure why Coles keep saying prices are going “Down, Down” when they seem to be going “Up Up?”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reckons a family two two children over 5 spends $279 a week on food long.  That’s $13,392 a year.

According to consumer rights group Choice, grocery items take a huge amount of our household budget.  A recent survey quoted on Choice.com says 75% of Australians are concerned about their food and grocery expenses, and they’re looking to cut back if they can.

And here’s another sobering statistic as you pause by the checkout and consider that extra candy bar or magazine: according to debt collection agency Fox Symes, 52 percent of us are opting to swipe credit cards to pay off their groceries and utility bills. And almost 60 per cent  say that they are unable to fully pay off their incurred expenses. Eventually, they’ll be paying huge interest rates to cover the gap between what they pay off and what’s left on credit.

So can you save?  Yes you can.

It takes just a little effort – but the satisfaction of knowing you’ve outsmarted those marketers determined to make you spend more than you need should be more than enough compensation.

Here’s a quick guide as you contemplate the weekend shop – and if you need further motivation, read Choice’s quick guide to The Case of the Disappearing Products.

1. Make the Clearance Section your favourite spot. This is the venue where groceries will most likely display their items on discounts. These items include cancelled orders, excess stocks and discontinued items as well as items close to its “best before” date. Additionally, they also offer bonus items (buys two, get one free) that offer more bang for your buck.

2. Pounce on the bulk deals where you can. Determine the capacity of your freezer and plan out the items that you can buy in volume.

3. Explore cheaper grocery outlets and supermarkets. Perhaps you can try shopping at Aldi apart from the usual Woolworths and Coles.  Read Choice’s survey of all three here

4. Shop at the end of the day. This is the time when groceries likely to provide discounts for “perishable goods” like vegetables, fruit and bakery commodities. Once these items are being replenished at the end of the day, you will be given price cuts for the newly pull out items from the racks.

5. Learn how to be flexible and master the art of finding alternatives. Make rearrangements with your menu, cleaning schedules or eating habits. You can make cheaper replacements for the condiments or ingredients that you might night.

6. Avoid splurging. You can prepare your lunch when you are leaving for the grocery or you have a busy day ahead. This will help you steer clear of expensive takeaways.

7. Leftovers should be stored inside your freezer and not in the fridge. Dishes will not spoil quickly when they are kept in a colder environment. You can still eat the food when you do not want to eat chicken in three consecutive days.

8. Keep a shopping list before you leave the house. This will help you stick to your budget and purchase the essentials items you are in definitely in need of.  And try MoneySmart’s Track My Spend calculator – we know it’s boring, but it really does help to know what you spend.

9. Refrain from impulse purchasing. Just because items are cheap, it does not mean you need them in your home. Always consider the items you need and not that you want or are super cheap.

10. Put those gardening skills to test if you can. Plant your own herbs. This will help you avoid spending much money on herbs each time you cook a meal or two.



The case of the disappearing products

Canny CHOICE readers have spotted examples of shrinking products over the years:

  • The size of chocolate bars is reduced, but the number of pieces stays the same.
  • Toilet rolls still look the same on the outside, but have fewer sheets because manufacturers have increased the diameter of the cardboard tube in the middle.
  • Breakfast cereals shrink in packet size but not in box size.
  • Man-size large tissues shrink in size, but not in name despite being significantly smaller.
  • Packets of chips shrink in contents, along with price, but the packet stays the same size so it looks like a saving.
  • Some soap looks the same until you take off the wrapper and discover the new bars have been cunningly reshaped to be more concave so you actually get less soap per bar.

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