“How can I stretch my grocery shopping budget?”

If there are fewer items on your grocery list these days, you’re not alone. Consumers across the country are tightening their belts—and trimming the fat from their supermarket purchases. Using credit card reward and rebate offers can be one of several strategies to stretch your limited household resources.

It’s hard to shop at the supermarket on a limited budget—especially when your grocery cart can fill up with not just groceries—but prescriptions, health and beauty items, school supplies and other essentials. Just as you shop the sales circulars and use coupons to your advantage—you can find ways to earn rewards using your rewards credit card. By using a rewards credit card for grocery purchases, you can earn cash rewards, points or other types of credit card rewards.

Do the math when supermarket shopping.

Understanding—and adjusting—your grocery shopping habits can make a big difference in cutting your costs. By using your credit card you’ll know exactly how much you spend at the grocery store month by month. This can help you determine what your food costs actually are, which can help you better budget your money.

  • Be vigilant in looking for the best value in the grocery store. Before you put an item in your cart, compare the unit price (such as the cost per ounce). A larger size may not always mean a better deal. Likewise, items on sale might be costlier than store brand items at regular price.
  • Check the register to make sure your items are rung up correctly and your coupons or other discounts were included.

Save more money with special offers

  • Pair up, or layer, the Sunday circular coupons with coupons you find at the grocery store—or use a manufacturer’s coupon on sale items.
  • Stock up on food items or pantry shelf staples you use most often, printing a great online coupon multiple times—or buy several issues of a coupon-packed Sunday paper.
  • Check the backside of your grocery store receipt for coupons and free grocery offers.
  • Check your reward credit card to find the places where you can earn even more cash back, rewards or points for purchases. Your credit card may offer special deals that can add up to significant savings.

Some other money-stretching grocery strategies.

  • Shop nearby farmer’s markets for affordable locally-grown fruit and vegetables. Farmers’ markets are also good outlets for produce–as well as cheeses, dairy products, organic meats, homemade jellies and jams, honey, local specialties and fresh baked goods.
  • Save money buying store brand instead of name brand foods.
  • Don’t shop at eye-level—where the really expensive stuff is. The cheaper items and store brands are often on the top and bottom shelves.
  • Put in the extra effort to get rain checks when the sale items are out of stock—and redeem any mail-in rebates.
  • Keep your food lasting longer by using sealer bags and freezer containers.
  • Buy in bulk and split your purchases with family and friends.
  • Warehouse clubs and superstores offer great values on fresh produce, meat, and bakery goods as well as non-perishable items. You may also save money on prescription drugs, eyeglasses, insurance, household furniture and vacation packages when you shop at warehouse clubs.
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Big shopping trips can add up—and a credit card with a low or 0% introductory APR offer can help you get what you need now while still managing your cash flow during the introductory period. With an introductory offer you can make those large purchases and save money on interest.

Using a rewards credit card may not be top of mind—but being able to earn rewards on your purchases can add up. Especially if you are able to use your points or rewards for items your family needs or extras you’d otherwise be unable to afford.

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