Of all the necessities in our life, it’s safe to say we put a lot of priority on food. Food is essential – it fuels our energy and it helps that they’re delicious (most of the time, at least). We physically cannot live without food which is understandable why majority of us spend a lot on it. But, should we really overspend on food alone?
According to research, Malaysians who earn minimum wage spend nearly 40 per cent of their salary on groceries. So, if the minimum wage in Malaysia is RM1,100, that means these people are spending almost RM400 on groceries every month. We haven’t even included the total amount of how much money they spend on eating out.
With the current increase in cost of living, it’s getting harder and harder to catch up, especially since we need those necessities to survive. But while external forces may push us into tight corners, we can still gain back some sort of control over the circumstances. In this case, saving up on groceries.
Grocery shopping is a significant expense for most families and households, but don’t fret! There are always ways to make it more affordable. Just for you, we’ve compiled 8 important and effective strategies to save on groceries.
If you’ve been shopping at upscale supermarkets, consider changing it up to some place more price friendly.
Malaysia has a lot of those, but my personal favorite is Giant Supermarket. If you’re a student (or someone on a budget), Giant is a haven for bargain shoppers because there is almost always a promotion happening. At one point, they sold a huge carton of eggs for only RM9! Turning 75 this year, Giant has served Malaysia with everyday low prices, big variety and great value.This grocery shopping store is also famous for its great festive deals, which include low prices on drinks and food items that are needed for that particular festival. Beyond regular groceries, they even sell festive clothes!
Another great shopping spot is Tesco. Tesco is a great place to find affordable items especially their own branded items which is just as good as any other popular brand, minus the numbers on the price tag. They’ve also upgraded their check-out system with self check-out machines, which makes the queue much shorter and faster especially if you’re getting less than 10 items.
Coupons are a gift and you should definitely make the best out of it! Some of the discounts may seem little to you – RM0.90 off only, really? – but they make a huge difference when you add them all up. You could reduce your grocery shopping expenses up to 5% when you use coupons and vouchers. Don’t worry about looking stingy, the important part is that you’re trying to reduce your spending.
However, remember to be smart when using them. Don’t use coupons as an excuse to buy things you don’t particularly need just because it’s cheaper. You may think you’re saving money but you’re probably spending more. If you spend on something you DON’T need eg. RM100 for the said item, and you have a RM10 coupon, you are not saving RM10. You are spending RM90.
Also, don’t forget to double check the dates! You don’t want to get yourself pumped up about saving money only to find you are too late.
Planning ahead saves a lot of money because you will limit yourself from overspending on things you don’t actually need. So, take out your smartphone and make a grocery list.
With a shopping list, you can prioritize your wants from your needs. Whatever is on your list must be things that you need immediately which usually includes ingredients you need in your meals, toiletries, or household items. It also helps that with a shopping list, you’ll save a lot of time. You’ll find yourself simply looking for your listed items only and not wasting time browsing other isles, wondering if you need X or Z more.
Another instance of planning ahead is planning your meals in advance. Again, planning keeps you focused on the ingredients you need to buy, and prevents overspending on impulse buying, or stocking up on things you don’t need.
Another strategy to save on groceries is to cook your own meals. Eating out is expensive. According to a survey, Malaysians spend around RM20 – RM35 on eating out (2 to 3 meals a day). That’s a lot of money.
If you’re not used to cooking, consider starting with simple meals. Pasta is one of the easiest meals in the world – just boil the pasta of your choice and make the sauce. Make some soup from online recipes. If you don’t feel like going near the stove, a sandwich would suffice as well. If you’re not into sandwich, make a wrap. Grab some lettuce, some chicken slices, tomatoes, cheese…all relatively simple and inexpensive ingredients.
If you want to save even more money, base your meals around discounted ingredients. Make your shepherd’s pie with the on-sale minced beef. If you want to make steak but it’s too expensive at the moment, be patient and wait for a promotion. This way you’ll learn to be creative with your meal plan while simultaneously saving your money.
Another option is cooking your meals in bulk and portion it out for the rest of the week. You’ll find yourself not spending a single cent! Consider also cooking for fellow housemates so you can share the cost together, or cater to like-minded colleagues and earn some side income.
Bulk buying is one of the most classic ways to save money.
Bulk buying is great because, for one, it’s cheaper. On the front it costs more, but in the long run you’re saving a lot. Plus, you’re also buying for the quantity. Yes, they may be more expensive but your end goal is to never run out items, which means less shopping for them. Although, there are promotions for certain products – at Tesco, one pack of wet cat food costs RM1.55 but if you buy 7, you’ll save RM0.75. Not a bad deal at all. Another major reason you should buy in bulk is that it helps reduce the carbon and energy footprint on the product packaging. Essential, you’re killing two birds with one stone when you bulk buy.
Do be smart, however, because you don’t want to end up bulk buying things that don’t last long. Some of the products that are appropriate for bulk buying are toilet rolls and tissue paper, oats, nuts, honey, toothpaste, shampoo, tea and coffee. Only get things you need and also double check your house to ensure you’ve got enough space for them.
Have you heard of Shopback?
Shopback is a cashback reward program available across Asia-Pacific with over 5 million members on its platform. It allows online shoppers to take a portion of their cash back when they make a purchase through the platform. On Shopback, there are deals for every category – shopping, travel, relods, food, transportation, movies, and even Internet plan. You can find pretty much everything on Shopback.
But what makes Shopback really rewarding is, of course, the cashback system. For each category and brand, the percentage of the cashback varies. For instance, Shopee offers up to 6% cashback for new customers. What you need to do is find your favourite store to shop, shop as normal and the cashback will be credited to your Shopback account within 2 days after your purchase. And the best part, you can withdraw your cashback to your bank account or via PayPal.
Alternatively, the more you invite your friends to Shopback, the more you get cashback. Here, you can download the referral code from my account to get RM5 in return!
Online delivery can save you a lot of money depending on your location.
If you happen to live in a suburb where the nearest supermarket is upscale and most likely costs more than regular supermarkets, online delivery from more economical grocery stores is the right choice for you. There’s HappyFresh, which delivers to most areas in the Klang Valley, Penang Island and Johor (and is also featured on Shopback). Tesco also offers online delivery services, as well as Redtick and Redtick Plus.
Online groceries delivery allows you to not having to rely on your car to get to the mall. Paying for gas, tolls and parking fees tend to make things more expensive, thus paying the fixed rate for delivery can be cheaper. You can skip the traffic and long queues, and order vegetables, fruits and everything in between right from the comforts of your own home!
If you don’t have a credit card, we recommend you apply for it, granted that you are a good steward of money and you pay your bills on time. There are many advantages of a credit card but one of them is the rewards and promotions that you are valid to when you make payments with it.
HSBC Visa Platinum Card allows you to redeem rewards including vouchers for merchants such as Giant. And with AmBank Bonuslink Visa, you can collect 30 BonusLink Points for every RM10 spent on selected retail transactions including groceries. Of course terms and conditions apply but it’s worth considering.
It all sounds exciting and maybe even a tad bit intimidating but don’t panic. Do a bit of research first to find which card suits your lifestyle best. Try websites like Comparehero or RinggitPlus to help you compare existing credit cards in Malaysia.
There you have it, 8 strategies to save money on groceries. There are many more strategies you can find online and through personal advice from friends but we hope our list of 8 effective ways proves useful to you just as much! If you have any more tips, don’t forget to leave them at the comments below.
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