Q: I live in an apartment in a small housing authority development. After paying my essential monthly expenses, I rarely have any money left. My neighbors are in the same situation. We especially worry about the cost of groceries. Do you have any ideas that could help us?
A: An NBC news report earlier this year stated that grocery prices have increased by nearly 3%. This may not seem immediately significant, but it is in addition to the prices that climbed throughout the past year.
Consumers of all income levels have probably noticed they are paying more for a variety of items. The average person has little control over rising costs, but there are ways to cut expenses. Most involve a little planning and research.
Check stores’ weekly sales fliers for discounts and special offers. These are typically mailed or included in newspapers and often available at the front entrance of supermarkets.
Search online for printable coupons and use double coupons and promotional “buy one, get one free” offers. You may save money by buying generic and store brand items, which can be of comparable quality to name brands.
Limit your shopping to a few stores. Driving all over to get the best deals could wipe out any savings when you factor in the cost of gas.
Remember, standard supermarkets aren’t your only option. You may find bargains at dollar stores, drug stores, and big-box chains.
Before heading out to shop, examine your pantry and write a list of items you need. Avoid impulse buying, which can lead to overspending. And don’t shop on an empty stomach because foods you may never have intended to purchase will suddenly look irresistibly appealing.
Warehouse stores can be an excellent source of savings but only if you have the space to store bulk items. Consider buying a membership and turning this into a cooperative opportunity for you and your neighbors.
Gather everyone at the beginning of the month to ask which items individuals need and what makes sense to purchase during the shopping trip. If the participating neighbors split the cost of purchases and gas, this could amount to savings for everyone involved.
Also, always take advantage of area food pantries and food distribution programs. Our agency offers several nutrition-related services, including Meals on Wheels, Elder Brown Bag, and individualized advice about how to shop for healthy items when you have dietary restrictions and a limited budget. Call our Information and Referral Department at 1-800-892-0890 to learn about your options.
Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can also call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore.