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As prices climb, WVU expert encourages household spending review

This is a grocery aisle of produce with green onions, wrapped corn, parsley, butternut squash and other loose vegetables visible.

Lauren Weatherford, a WVU Extension agent, recommends sticking to outside aisles at grocery stores — like produce aisles — to help control food costs and keep down household expenses at a time when prices for many goods are climbing. (WVU Photo)

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With inflation at a 40-year high leading to higher prices for groceries, gas and other goods, a West Virginia University expert is offering some tips for saving on household expenses.

Lauren Weatherford, a WVU Extension family and community development agent, says now is a good time to fully review how household dollars are being spent at grocery stores and elsewhere. 


“Many of the tried-and-true cost savings methods still work. Start by assessing how much you are spending now and on what. This will help you to make important choices between your wants and needs. You’ll want to take a good, honest look at what you are spending when and where.”

“Let’s start with food. If you have receipts, gather those from both the grocery store and from restaurants where you eat out. You often can find this information on your bank account and credit card records. Some store apps keep itemized records of what you spend. Don’t forget to include the extras. Did you stop at the coffee shop or convenience store this week? What about that last minute take-out meal on a busy evening? Most of us spend more than we think we do. When you start to see where you are spending, which items, and for how much, you may find you can make a few changes quickly. Then really think about your wants and needs. These are different for everyone. Have a conversation with the other decision-makers in your family and see where you might cut back.” 

“Many of us know it is a good idea to eat at home, but did you know that eating at home can be healthier and save money? Making a grocery list is a terrific cost-saving measure. And when you plan out your meals ahead of time, you are more likely to avoid eating out and provide more balanced, healthier meals.” 

“Start checking your weekly sales. Many stores rotate the same items on sale every few weeks or in time for certain holidays. If you can, start to track how often something like eggs or butter go on sale, then you can anticipate when to buy them at lower prices. Many stores offer additional digital savings. Check the app before you go to the store. Sign up for coupons or discounts can add up. Look for traditional coupons in the paper, mail and at the checkout register.” 

“Shop on the outside of the store first. This is where you’ll find fresh food. Get the items you need first, then go through the aisles. Skip the aisles that have items you don’t  need. Avoid items at the end of the aisle. These items are designed to stimulate impulse buying and the prices are not always cheaper.

“Convenience foods that are packaged and processed for longer shelf life are located in the aisles. These can cost more for less food. Use your calculator and compare pricing. It may be less costly to buy a box of pasta and a can of pasta sauce than individually packaged microwaveable packets.” 

“Lastly, consider buying the store brands instead of name brands. Some of these items have the exact the same content/ingredients, and come from the same suppliers, but with different packaging. They often offer substantial savings.” — Lauren Weatherford, Family and Community Development Agent, Fayette and Nicholas Counties, WVU Extension

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.



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