Basic Cents, Business, Features

Eating Up Your Budget

DURING the United Nations climate summit in New York, late in 2014, patterns of behaviour and food waste were high on the discussion list. Americans throw away about 35 millions of tons of food a year. This is 20% higher than in 2000 and 50% higher than 1990. It is highly possible that pre-packaged fruit and vegetables and other favourites from your grocery store make up a high percentage of your own wastage which also includes the plastic and paper from the packaging. Is it worth paying twice the amount for the same food, just for the convenience of someone pre-preparing it for you?

The majority of us waste money when we go grocery shopping and we all need to embrace grocery shopping as one of life’s necessities. Unfortunately, purchasing your food, drinks and other so-called provisions eat up a large portion of your monthly or weekly spending money. That percentage appears to increase almost every month, with no sign of the costs reducing, even after world oil prices and, therefore, delivery charges have reduced by 50% in the previous 12 months. How can you save as much of this hard earned money as possible?

There are many tips that can make your shopping excursions easier on your wallet. The place to begin is to understand what size of budget you can allocate to your grocery shopping and then ensure that you don’t go over the limit over the course of the year, but remembering that when you spend too much one month to take advantage of long shelf life goods that are on sale, for an item you will usually purchase, you will be saving money during the other months when you no longer need to purchase that item.

One of the worst ways to purchase food is after a shop has conveniently pre-packaged fruit and vegetables. Apart from wasting the plastic, paper and cardboard for the environment, even when you recycle, it costs the shop money to prepare and package the food for you which is why prepacked broccoli always costs you more than loose broccoli. The purchase of pre-packaged food will not save you sufficient time in your life, to be worth the purchase.

Once you identify the items that you purchase regularly, it will be easy to recognise the most expensive items. This gives you the opportunity to change your spending habits and perhaps eat less of one item and more of another, like exchanging some red meat for less expensive chicken.

By spending less money out of your available funds on food, it does not need to be harder to shop for a healthy and balanced diet. You do not need to pick up everything available on a special offer and where you can avoid buying items on impulse; your meal planning in advance will show its great advantages.

Experts suggest that you should never shop when your stomach is empty, because the temptations may be too large for your budget. There are always good value items to be found and sometimes, these are the supermarket’s own brand.

You do not necessarily have to change your food eating and purchasing habits, but just a little planning and self-control can help reduce your budget so that you can save money and have it available for an occasional special treat or go towards your long-term saving plans.

By Samuel Rosenberg
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Samuel Rosenberg is the founder and CEO of Axcel Finance Ltd., the leading regional microfinance institution. Share your thoughts and email your questions to srosenberg@axcelfinanc

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