BY KIM LENHART, BANK OF UTAH BRANCH MANAGER
Eating at home costs quite a bit more today than it did a year ago — almost 12 percent more, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food-at-home index. The rising cost of food is a big burden and can leave people feeling overwhelmed and defeated in the grocery store checkout stand.
While, as customers, we can’t control the price of groceries, we can control our habits, working to avoid bad ones and add good ones.
Here are four good habits to make grocery bills more manageable.
- Understand how much you’re spending on groceries each month
It’s easy to overspend at the grocery store, from giving in to delicious smells to grabbing higher-priced name-brand items to buying more-expensive pre-cut fruits and vegetables. Tracking and reviewing your purchases is the first step to identifying habits and discovering where to cut back.
- Make a budget
After determining spending habits, create a grocery budget.
Many online banking platforms and mobile apps make it easy to generate custom budgets, set spending limits, and get alerted to overspending.
- Spend cash
A cash-only grocery budget makes it difficult to overspend at the supermarket and leads to better decision-making, such as swapping out a name-brand case of soup for a store brand.
- Use a credit card — with care
If a cash-only budget isn’t appealing, use a credit card that earns points or rewards for grocery purchases. Then, put those rewards back toward your budget.
Take note: These cards usually have a higher annual percentage rate (APR). Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month, to avoid incurring interest.