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Kick Off 2021 with $201 in Grocery Savings

If you're anything like me, you're always looking for creative ways to save a buck. But hey, that's why you're reading a personal finance blog, right?

In 2020, I set a goal to reduce my household's grocery and pharmacy spending by $500 -- from $6,500 over the course of the year to $6,000. I knew it would be a challenge because Heavy Metal Husband only lived with me for the last seven months of 2019; in 2020, we would be a two-person household all year long.

Spoiler alert, it first appears that I did not reach my arbitrary goal. I still spent around $6,500 at grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and pharmacies. March 2020's pandemic shopping didn't help.... (The pharmacy purchases I tracked were all my own stuff, but the groceries were for the both of us -- which we then split with Venmo after the fact.) Thank you, Fetch, for keeping track of all this in nice little bar graphs and pie charts for me!

Still, I managed to theoretically save over $200 -- $201 to be exact -- aside from any coupon clipping, store brand-buying, or any other change to my purchase choices.

How did I do this?

  • Cash back credit cards. Bank of America's Visa Signature Rewards pays 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale clubs, while Chase Freedom Unlimited pays 3% back on pharmacy purchases. With approximately $500 in grocery spending and $50 in non-HSA pharmacy spending per month, this saved me at least $138 over the course of the year. I used as the cash back payments as statement credit on the cards and by paying the balances in full each month, I avoided any interest charges.

  • Cash back apps. Ibotta earned me $51 from July to December, while Fetch earned $12 in Amazon gift cards over the year (and made me all those cool graphs). Not bad for free money!

So with those cash-back sources, I did manage to decrease the total cost of grocery and pharmacy purchases in 2020 -- even while being a two-person household for the entire year.

Is $500 a month too much to spend on groceries for a pair of adults? It sounds like a lot, but it's really only a little over $60 per person each week. Yes, it's more than I spent in college while living on rice and beans and PB&J. But considering we cook and eat most of our meals at home, and I'm as strategic as possible with leftovers/sales/etc., I think we're doing okay.

In fact, if you want to hear some grocery strategies I live by that involve more than just apps and credit cards, check out this episode of Adulting is Easy. Lauren and I spend almost 40 minutes dissecting the best ways to squeeze your grocery dollar!

You can also grab a copy of Money Hacks for Metalheads and Old Millennials. It has a whole chapter on the topic, including a shopping list and recipes to get you started!


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