The most flexible line item in a household budget is the grocery expense, and it’s usually the first expense to be cut when money is tight. Even if you’re savvy about money-saving shopping tricks, do you realize that enlisting a friend's help could save you even more? Shopping with a friend allows you to take advantage of opportunities you couldn't have alone, and the whole experience is more enjoyable. Here are just a few ways you and your shopping buddy can save at the supermarket.
Keep Each Other on Track
When you go shopping, it's easy to get distracted and buy things that aren't on your list. If you shop with a friend, you can police each other's purchases and keep focused on the task at hand. Sure, the Pop-Tarts might be on sale, but you can buy a giant container of oatmeal for less; a good friend will remind you so and steer you toward smart purchases. Of course, this only works if your friend is as frugal-minded as you are. When choosing a shopping buddy, be sure to avoid your more spontaneous and spendthrift companions.
Buy in Bulk
Most items are less expensive per unit when purchased in bulk. Whether you're buying pinto beans from a bin or using a warehouse membership to buy family packs of pasta sauce, you will usually get the best deal when you buy in bulk. Your overall bill will be higher, but at least until your pantry will be well stocked. Since you probably don't need five boxes of cereal, however, team up with a friend and split your bulk purchases. You can separate the groceries when you get home by dividing meat into separate bags or dividing multipacks of canned goods.
Clip Coupons Together
This strategy works especially well if your friend has different eating or lifestyle habits than you do because competition is minimized. Every time you clip coupons, you're sure to find great deals that you have no use for. If you can't use the coupons for diapers and formula, trade them with a new mom in exchange for the wine and spirit coupons. Clipping coupons with friends also saves time and reduces the blisters on your fingers. You could meet once a week with a whole group of friends for a coupon-clipping party.
Take Advantage of $5 Off Any Purchase of $50 or More
An incentive to persuade you to buy more than you planned, this type of ad is prevalent in stores. In order to get the most savings from a deal like this, shop with a friend and split the bill. The savings will lower the cost for you both, and neither of you has to buy more than you planned in order to qualify for the discount.
Share the Gas Bill
With fuel costs rising, carpooling is a more attractive option than ever. Take turns driving when you and your shopping buddy visit the grocery store, and agree to pay half of the gas bill. Not only is it easier on the pocketbook to travel in one car, it's better for the environment. Driving to the store together also means an extra set of hands to help load and unload groceries from the car.
In addition to saving money, shopping for groceries with a friend can be a great way to spend quality time together. Shopping doesn't have to be a boring chore; it can be a fun and frugal adventure. You can catch up on all the gossip while you peruse the aisles, and you can use some of the money you save to treat yourselves manicures afterward. Of course, for some harried wives and mothers, just being able to get out of the house is a reward all on its own.
Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her own blog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about SavingTools or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!