We have interviewed Little Miss Moneybags, a personal finance blogger from New York City. She works in book publishing in New York City and enjoys reading and writing about personal finance among other topics. We thought it would be interesting to interview someone from a major US city and she gave us a perspective on living in one of the largest cities in the world.
1. How many people do you shop for in your household and what is your budget?
I shop for two people — me and my husband. Our budget is between $200-250 for groceries only. (Paper products, household needs, and personal hygiene items have their own categories in our budget — less than an additional $50 per month.)
2. Do you have a Costco or Sams Club membership?
Yes, we have a Costco membership. We’re about 10 blocks away from a Costco and we walk there with a little granny cart once or twice a month.
3. Do you shop name brand items (Unico, Kraft) or no-name store brands?
I’m generally fine with no-name products and at Costco especially we usually go with Kirkland Signature, Costco’s store brand. The only thing I’m really super brand-loyal to would be Hidden Valley Ranch — I just don’t like any other flavors of ranch. If we do buy brand-name, say ice cream, we buy whatever’s on sale or that we have a coupon for.
4. Which store do you spend the most of your grocery budget?
Great question — I’m not sure. In terms of higher price per trip, definitely Costco. However, we shop more frequently at a local NYC chain called C-Town, so probably there.
5. Do you use coupons on a regular basis?
I try. I don’t subscribe to any newspapers to get regular coupon circulars, but I print relevant ones out from online and do try to use them. I’d like to get better at this. One issue is that Costco doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons, and my grocery store sometimes accepts internet-printed coupons and sometimes doesn’t.
6. Do you shop with a grocery list?
Definitely! Even when popping in for a few items, I write it down and only get what’s on the list. And at Costco, it’s really important to stick to the list!
7. Do you shop at farmers markets on a regular basis?
No. There aren’t any around us, and we haven’t joined the local CSA. I’d like to do more of this someday.
8. Do you make home preserves or freeze fruits/vegetables?
We make our own pickles, pizza dough and pizza sauce. For a while, we maintained a yeast culture and baked all of our bread from scratch, but now we do buy bread sometimes and we went back to active dry yeast. I have canned jellies and jams before, and I’d like to do that again when I have a larger kitchen.
9. Do you shop using grocery flyers (planning in advance with sales)?
Not at all. It would probably make a big difference! We menu plan based on what we feel like having and our schedules instead of the flyers.
10. What is the one area where most people can quickly and easily save money on grocery shopping?
Shop the walls — stay out of the interior aisles. Most of the stuff there’s not really food anyway, and it’s all more expensive than the grains, meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables you’ll find on the walls.
11. Any grocery shopping advice (at the store, checkout, planning)?
When we consistently do meal planning, our grocery budget is its lowest. Plan a week of meals, make a list of what you need, go get it — and then don’t go back to the store. It works! I just wish we would do it a little more consistently. We might have to change the Sunday planning/shopping day — neither of us are in the mood for it on Sunday afternoons.
12. What is in your fridge at the moment?
Our fridge is actually pretty empty at the moment since we usually stock up on Sundays for the week, and here it is Friday.
We would like to thank Little Miss Moneybags for providing a great interview and showing how she and her husband manage their grocery shopping in a large city. I personally found it interesting that she maintained an active yeast culture for break making. This is something that I am planning to do this year.
I am at a crossroads though – I enjoy freshly baked bread but I have so many free product coupons for pre-sliced bread!