Saving on Family Essentials Doesn’t Mean Selling Out Your Family’s Lifestyle
Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch helps you give your family the best while spending the least.
The following was produced in partnership with our friends at New York Life, who are committed to helping families be happy, successful, and good at life.
As traditional parenting gender roles evolve, dads aren’t just bringing home the bacon — they’re shopping for it. Statistics suggest that fathers are on their way to taking over for mothers as the primary purchasers in American households, with the newest generation of parents, Millennials, particularly leaning into day-to-day shopping tasks once thought to be mothers’ sole domain. A recent study found 80 percent of Millennial dads claimed primary or shared responsibility for grocery shopping, compared to 45 percent of all dads. And, with the cost of raising a kid to age 17 about to clear $200,000, modern fathers need modern ways to save on everyday purchases.
That’s where money-saving expert Andrea Woroch steps in. “When fathers — and all parents — are savvy about household shopping, they can save more of the money they work hard to earn for more important things, like going on vacation and creating lasting memories with their families,” she says. There’s nothing wrong with being a consumer, she submits, as long as you’re a smart one — with a game plan to buy the essential in order to give you freedom to go after those bigger purchases. Here, Woroch offers some simple, effective money-savers for dads about to make their next run to feed the family.
Have a Meal Plan
“Food waste is the single biggest grocery budget killer,” says Woroch. To avoid it, plan around ingredients already in the pantry, then supplement at the store based on what’s on sale to round out dishes and create that week’s menu.
Have a go-to brand of salad dressing or pasta? Odds are good that on any given day a similar one will be on sale. And the generic is usually just as good, but cheaper. Check the ingredients (and certifications you care about, like USDA Organic) on the label. If you’re committed to a particular name brand, look for apps offering coupons or rebates.
Use Your Calculator
“That ‘5 for $2’ yogurt deal is often presented in an intentionally confusing way,” says Woroch. “Sometimes it still costs more per unit than the store brand.” Taking the extra minute to solve that mystery saves money – and makes a great retort when the kids say they’ll never need to use math.
Time Your Meats
Meats get marked up as much as 60 percent when they hit the shelves — and are way less expensive when they near the end of their short shelf lives. Buy these marked-down items, cook some right away and freeze the rest for later.
Check Your Impulses
“Supermarkets depend on shoppers coming into the store and buying on impulse. If you can’t keep your hands to yourself or defer from your list because you’re hungry, you can inflate your spending by 50 percent,” Woroch says. Menu planning and doing a single weekly stock-up will help limit the damage. Sure, $10 of impulse purchases once a week is manageable. That same $10 spent during four grocery runs each week is not.
Plan Before Shopping Online
The internet would seem to exacerbate the impulse issue, but Woroch says it can actually help. The key is to approach online shopping as an event, which requires preparation and specificity. “Shopping online takes more planning but it lets you get the pantry staples and basics on your list and get out. You’re not walking down the aisles with impulse purchases catching your eye.”
Of course, trips to the store aren’t just about food. New parents tend to default to a “hope for the best, plan for the worst” mentality that leads to overbuying. So when you absolutely need to buy diapers right now, you lose out, given that the largest online retailers give discounts for recurring deliveries (up to 20 percent). Check your inventory at the beginning of each week, figure out what you used and what you need, then use one of the aforementioned options to save on the next week’s or month’s stash.
None of this is about avoiding buying stuff you like or saving money at the expense of having fun. The goal here is to be financially prepared for the essentials to allow freedom to buy that pool toy, shiny new smartwatch, or team logoed onesie. After all, shopping takes practice. It also requires — and it cannot be repeated enough — a plan.
This article was produced in partnership with our friends at New York Life, who are committed to helping families be happy, successful, and good at life. Learn more at nylife.com.