As a student, you probably don't have a lot of extra money. Buying groceries can put a strain on your already tight budget. However, there are strategies you can take to help you keep your costs down and make the most of your money when grocery shopping.
Eat before you shop
Avoid shopping while you are hungry because it can make you want to buy items you do not need.
Make a list and stick to it
It is important to decide what items you need before you go to the store so you are able to buy everything you need in one trip. This will help you stick to your budget and avoid temptation to overspend.
Pay with cash
It's best to pay for your items with cash to help prevent overspending. When you pay with cash, you cannot spend more money than you have. Using cash can encourages you to analyze how much you really need the item before parting with the finite amount of cash you have.
Get a store card
Many grocery stores have customer cards that allow their customers to purchase items at a sale price only available with the card. These cards are usually free but do require an application.
Calculate the best deal
Bring a calculator with you to the grocery store (if you have a phone with a calculator on it you can use it). Calculate the cost of the specific sizes and brands that are the best deal. Be sure to include store brands when comparing brands because they are often just as good as other brands and they often cost less.
Use coupons wisely
Coupons can be found in newspapers, online, at stores, and through Smartphone/tablet apps. Saving and using coupons can save you a lot of money. However, you have to be wise in how you use them. First, only buy items with a coupon that you were already planning to purchase. Second, use your calculator to be sure that the coupon is actually saving you money. Sometimes a different brand or different size of an item will be less expensive without a coupon than the coupon item.
Save coupons for items you do not plan to purchase and ask your friends to do the same. You may have coupons that they want and they may have coupons that you want. Schedule a day to meet up with your friends and exchange the coupons you do not want.
Be careful not to buy more food than you will be able to eat before it expires. Sometimes buying large quantities may be a good idea because it may be less expensive per unit. However, if it is more food than you will be able to eat before it goes bad, it will not be a good idea.
Use the strategies above to help you keep your cost down when you purchase groceries. These strategies can help you get more for the money you spend and help you avoid buying items you do not need.