Does the thought of going to the grocery store induce anxiety? Food prices are on the rise, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. The grocery cart is getting harder to fill without draining our bank accounts disproportionately.
Despite the bleak outlook, there are ways to mitigate the damage today and in the coming days. Understanding the current situation can help you make more innovative moves at the grocery store and with your unsettled debt to better set yourself up for success.
We’ve all seen the rising costs of food, but few understand how bad the problem has become. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) predicts an increase of 7 and 8 percent in the United States. Abroad they expect a rise of 6 to 7 percent. Partially, this projection is due to the 50 percent rise in fertilizers and pesticides over the last year. Another contributing factor happened in April when the avian flu (known as the bird flu) impacted the poultry industry. Although most farmers have recovered, chicken and egg prices have stayed high to recoup the losses.
Farmers are not benefitting from the price hikes either. Farming costs have increased while their market prices have stayed the same. Some farmers suggest that the processing facilities are raising fees. Many processors are on fixed contracts with their vendors and will be seeking to recoup their costs in Q4, matching the US Department of Agriculture’s 8 percent prediction. Expect to see significant impacts on food prices by Christmas.
We can’t control the market and how high food costs will get, but we can control what, when, and where we buy our food. The critical first step is being acutely mindful of this process and taking advantage of the deals that are often right under our noses.
Another vital aspect to consider is your current level of debt. As inflation and food prices creep up, looming debt cuts into the bottom line. Before it gets worse, start to craft a plan on how to move forward, so you’re not left deciding to default on a payment or eat that week.
Generally, Wednesday is the best day of the week to buy the best deals, but this likely isn’t enough to make a significant difference. Zero in on the products that sell for the best prices and take note of the stores that sell them. One grocery store might have a better deal on meat while the other sells canned goods at a better price. Each store has a sale cycle as well. Try to crack the code on when certain items are on sale at each store to help map out your store jumping campaign. This strategy requires a little more planning and keeping up to date on essential items but can save a boatload of cash in this economy.
Many grocery stores offer coupons, and you need to use them. Check your favorite grocery stores for double coupon days. You’ll get double the discount listed on the voucher, but you’ll have to ask because this isn’t always advertised in plain sight. Not using coupons is like burning money. The next time you’re at your favorite store, ask where you can pick up a booklet of coupons for the best deals. You’ll likely be surprised.
In the digital age, we have additional resources for coupon shopping like Dosh or iBotta. These are particularly useful for specific brands. Many stores offer loyalty programs that you can sign up for online too. Over time it all adds up, and your future self will thank you later.
Before going to the grocery store, list pertinent items and only buy what is on your list. Grocery store marketers are clever and will capitalize on your hungry eyes. For example, a little-known fact is that most grocery stores stock more expensive options at eye level. When an item catches your eye, be sure to scan from top to bottom for a better deal. It’s likely hiding in plain sight.
Essential goods are often stored at the back of the grocery store. The hope is that you’ll see the more appealing junk food along the way and “sneak” those into your cart. Stick to your essentials list, and stay away from that trap.
Another slick way to get you to spend more than you planned is more giant grocery carts. Over the years, marketers have pushed for larger carts because many of us want to fill empty spaces. This is mainly subconscious, but it works unless we’re conscious of their effort.
After you’ve spent considerable time curating the best costs for your food, don’t turn around and go to lunch at work. It’s counterproductive. Restaurants typically charge a 300 percent markup to eat a meal. Put that hard work to use and pack a lunch every day. Your wallet will thank you for the effort.
The economic landscape of today is uncertain at best. No one knows when it might turn around, and it isn’t looking good. Now is the time to settle outstanding debts. Should the economy worsen, the high-interest credit cards you’re struggling to pay will only get harder to pay down. If you’ve looked at your finances and were left scratching your head about what to do, don’t panic. Advocate Debt Relief has analysts that can help assess the situation and pave a productive path forward.