Saturday, August 23, 2008

Clean Up, Aisle Nine: Broke Customers

A recent survey by analytics firm Precima showed that 82% of U.S. consumers intend to keep cooking at home instead of eating out even after the economy improves and they have more disposable income. On top of that, 84% of consumers plan to keep hunting for specials in grocery store fliers, and 78% are making fewer trips to the store to save on gas.

There’s no doubt that gas and consumer goods price inflation has been running wild during the past year. Americans are rapidly changing their behaviors to make ends meet and keep food on the table. Is inflation causing financial strain, or revealing deeper problems? (Is this a “chicken and egg” question?)

70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck according to the Wall Street Journal; our national savings rate hovers around 0%. Perhaps rising consumer prices are enough to topple the financial house of cards so much of the country lives in. Rising prices expose the overextended. A written monthly budget allows you to take control of your money and reinforce your financial foundation.

Here are a few ideas for your next grocery store trip: 1) don’t shop hungry, you’ll buy things you don’t need; 2) stick to a list; 3) only use coupons for items you use (no sense stocking up on 4-for-1 canned garbanzo beans if you don’t eat them); 4) use CASH! Studies show we spend 12%-18% more when paying with plastic. Establish a monthly grocery budget using a cash envelope to monitor your spending. It’s easy: when the cash is gone, the only places to “shop” are your pantry and freezer.

Confronting your financial situation honestly is the first step on the path toward financial freedom. Don’t miss your opportunity to take control of your life and money today!

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