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Take the Grocery Store Challenge!

image of receiptsThis game is a little like a reality-TV show. Here’s how it works.

  1. With your child, look at some old grocery receipts to get an idea of what things cost.
  2. As you check out old receipts, look for Dollar Destroyers that really ran up your bill. They aren’t allowed on the next trip to the grocery store. These are –
    • Things you bought but you could have lived without.
    • Things that cost more than they were worth.
    • Things that ads tempted you to try but weren’t as good as they sounded.
  3. Next, make a shopping list that includes grocery essentials: meat, veggies, fruits, dairy, bread, and basic snack items. Based on the prices from old receipts, estimate the cost of each, and write it next to the item on your shopping list. Add up your estimates. That’s your target total for one week’s worth of groceries. You and your child must agree that you will not spend any more than the target total.
  4. In the store, do some math each time you add items to the basket. If you find you’re spending more than your target total, take action. Put something back on the shelf? Switch to a generic or store brand? Switch to a brand that’s on sale?
  5. Put any item that tempts you (that’s not on your list) on the bottom of the cart. If you have money leftover when you finished with your list, you can figure out which of these “extra” items you can afford to keep and still stay under your target total. Buying some essentials “on sale” may give you some extra money. Or perhaps you want to buy less expensive essentials to free up money to buy a non-list item. Either way, your child will get the idea that money can be manipulated.
  6. Once you know about how much you spend for basics, you can add some non-essentials before your next shopping trip: soda, chips, pizza, ice cream bars. You’re creating a new target total, the number you aim for as you shop in the upcoming weeks. Play the game week after week. It’s good practice for managing money.

The game teaches players –

  • There IS a target amount for groceries. You don’t just go in the store and load the cart. Sure, the amount may change a little from week to week, but the number should stay pretty much the same.
  • You need to plan your list before you get in the store.
  • Money is limited, so you have to make choices. Use choices to stretch your dollars.

The impact of the game

How much less did you spend? You and your child should now compare your target total to old grocery receipts. Subtract the target number from the “old numbers” –   the shopping you did without a plan or a budget.

  • Multiply the savings by 4 to find what you save in a month.
  • Multiply the monthly total by 12 to see what you save in a year.

Suddenly you’ve got money to use in other ways!