A Few Dollars More: 10 Steps to Saving Money at the Market
We pull our hair out trying to pinch pennies with little success and make ourselves sick over bills, ignoring one of our biggest money suckers: food. According to the 2011 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the average American spends over 15% of their total annual income on food; more than $6,000, close to 40% of which ($2,275) will be trashed! Financial instability is a major contributor to stress, especially among those already living with depression. Here are some simple ways to save.
Stress and the Body
The physical effects of stress-related depression are no joke, ranging from fatigue to muscle tension and even a change in sex drive. The emotional effects, on the other hand, are even worse. People suffering from stress related to financial instability report:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Overeating or undereating
- Lack of motivation/focus
- Angry outbursts
- Social withdrawal
“A good way to view financial freedom,” begins Scott H. Young, “[is to compare it to] another type of freedom most people in the Western world enjoy: freedom from hunger. As a human being, I need to eat to survive. But the relative abundance of food in my life has meant hunger is never a driving force in my decisions. If food were scarce, getting enough to eat would probably occupy all of my thoughts.”
Financial freedom works much in the same way: our national deficit and high unemployment means money is not around like it used to be. “Money will always play a role in your life.” says Young. “But you are free when it no longer becomes the dominating influence on your goals.” Acquiring money for Americans is not unlike how third-world countries worry about food. However, the difference in our case is that there is some way for those of us who need money to find it, and we can with a little ingenuity.
Many people are getting smarter about shopping: we peruse the peripherals, use coupons frequently, and look beyond what is at eye level (because it is often the priciest). Here are some steps that we can take to save even more.
- Know when to buy bulk. If your grocery store has a bulk aisle, head there for your spices. They are dirt cheap! However, items like oatmeal and lentils are often cheaper pre-packaged.
- Save everything!If you like gravy and soups, rather than buying canned stuff, save and freeze the juices from your meat dishes, as well as the ends of your veggie stems for soup bases.
- Buy local. It is often cheaper.
- Plan your meals in advance. It will cure you of impulse shopping and save you money otherwise wasted.
- Don't shop on an empty stomach. This too is a big contributor to impulsive shopping rather than smart shopping.
- Make an effort. If you want to save money at the market, you have to pay attention to what is going into your cart and why.
- Buy a cookbook. Not only do they give you inspiration, often times the meals are quick.
- Buy a food processor. You can make several dishes like hummus, spaghetti sauce, pesto, cracker spreads, and much more for a fraction of the price of premade stuff. It also yields much more.
- Do more with less. Rather than buying bread for sandwiches and pita bread for hummus, just buy the bread and make toast points for pita. If you buy a bunch of cilantro for taco night, ask yourself: what else could I use this for?
- Do the math. Keep your receipts and read them. Once you make a conscious effort to monitor your funds, you will automatically begin to spend less.
Financial freedom takes a serious commitment, and that is what big business is banking on. It is so much easier to go for what is fastest, easiest, and seemingly cheapest than to stop and think. But if you take the time to evaluate just where your money is going and how much you are spending, I guarantee you will think twice about how much you spend from now on.
Stress brought on by financial instability is hitting Americans hard. It is a very serious and yet unnecessary burden to bear. Luckily, there are things each and every one of us can do in order to ensure sound peace of mind.
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