Food is a touchy subject to many, especially when it comes to the financial aspect attached to it. Nobody likes to admit that they’re probably spending way too much on their eating habits than they should be, and it’s also something that can be very problematic to even start dealing with in the first place. But if you’re looking to optimize your personal finances, this is often one of the best places to start your investigation.
It may take some time to shed the harmful habits you’ve developed, especially if it’s been a while and you’ve never paid any attention to your food expenses before. But once you start moving along this path, you’re quickly going to realize that you have been wasting a lot of money, and you’ll never even want to look back.
How Often Do You Eat Out?
Eating out is the number one enemy of a good budget, and there’s a good reason why it’s probably the most commonly brought up tip in articles about personal finance management. It doesn’t even matter where you live – the rule applies to every corner of the world. Eating out is always going to be more expensive than preparing the same meals at home, even when you account for the time spent shopping and cooking.
Sure, it’s okay to spice things up once in a while and treat yourself to a more luxurious meal outside. But don’t make it a habit to grab a burger from that street stand on your way home from work every evening. The costs can stack up very fast.
Cooking Is Not for Chefs Only
On the note of cooking, many people wrongly assume that it takes a lot of effort and experience to even get started, and as a result they never bother even trying to learn it. Which is quite sad, because cooking is not only a simple skill to pick up, it’s also one of the most valuable ones you can have in general. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to whip up a basic meal, and once you’ve started learning, you’re quickly going to notice many small things that you can do to improve the quality of your meals without having to spend more on them.
Do You Have a Shopping Plan?
Even if you’re doing your own cooking at home, you might still be wasting a lot of money by not paying attention to discounts and special promotions at your local grocery stores. Pretty much every major store chain has weekly catalogs outlining upcoming promotions. You should gather those and use them to make a plan for the coming week. E.g., buy your meat at store A, your cheese at store B, alcohol from the specialty store, etc. Align yourself to any available discounts and you should see a steady reduction in your average expenses, even without changing anything about the products you’re buying.
The Hidden Nuances of “Time Is Money”
On the other hand, don’t take this to extreme levels. Remember that spending a lot of time running around from one store to another can quickly eat into your time. So if you’re going to just shave a few cents off your final bill, it’s clearly not always worth the extra effort. After all, this is not something like preparing to take out a loan, where you will obviously need to examine the market in extreme detail and make sure that you’ve compared all available deals properly.
You shouldn’t have to spend that much time on your shopping trips to be able to save money. If you find yourself having to make lots of separate trips and things like that, then you’re probably not going about this in the most ideal way.
Staying Healthy Is Surprisingly Cheap These Days
There’s a common misconception that eating healthy and eating cheap are mutually exclusive. And while this may have been true a decade or so ago, it’s far from the case today. Eating healthy is surprisingly easy with the help of the right products, and many of them are available surprisingly cheaply these days. You will often actually find that healthy eating can be much cheaper than its junk food counterparts. Take advantage of that while it’s still valid, and keep shopping for the best foods that you can find in your current price range. You’ll likely discover plenty of attractive options that won’t eat into your wallet.
Once you’ve built the right habits, maintaining them becomes relatively easy. You’ll keep discovering new ways to treat your body right while also staying within reasonable limits in your budget, and your bank account and organism will love you alike!