#### How is this only 82¢?

Update – May 2022: Prices have obviously gone up – I used to pay less than 50¢ for this breakfast.

However, if you use the smart-shopping techniques described here, you can still cut your food costs by 1/3-1/2 for many meals. I still was able to get chicken quarters for 49¢ each and find BOGOs all over the place.

How is it possible to have two eggs, two strips of bacon, toast and milk for 48¢?

How can you have a quarter chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and iced tea for 71¢

And how in the heck can you have a four-course spaghetti dinner for \$1.65?

That’s basically how much food costs if you buy it in a grocery store and make it yourself. And you don’t have to super-coupon, join a buyer’s club like Sam’s or Costco or drive around town to different grocery stores.

Look at the breakfast costs:

• Eggs at 79¢ a dozen are 7¢ each
• Butterball turkey bacon at \$1.99/24 slices is 9¢ per slice
• Bread from the discount shelf is 50¢ a loaf, or 3¢ a slice
• Milk at \$1.99/gal. is 13¢ for an 8-ounce glass

Technically, I made this meal cheaper because Kroger gives me coupons for eggs, but I thought I’d use these numbers.

## You Need to Learn How to Smart-Shop

If you just buy generic spaghettis instead of name brand, you’ll save money. Several times per year, I can get Ronzoni pasta for 49¢ a box instead of \$1.20 if I buy six boxes.

I wait until Kroger’s chicken quarters are on sale for \$3.99 for a bag of 10 and they’re 39¢d each. I buy generic green beans or corn for 60¢ a can, or wait until Green Giant is on sale for 49¢ a can if you buy 10 cans.

The pasta meal you see below uses all items purchased at Lidl. It’s actually cheaper if I use Kroger items, but you get the point.

If you want to learn how to smart-shop, visit www.foodstampchallenge.com and learn how to eat three meals and two snacks a day for less than \$4.

Once you learn the hang of it, smart-shopping is easy. You’ll learn what a BOGO is and when they come around. I like Tombstone pizza, or example. They are buy-one-get-one-free at Publix every four or five weeks, so I just wait and buy three pizzas and get three free.

## How Much Will you Add to your Retirement Fund?

This isn’t about saving 50¢ here and 24¢ there and getting a free pizza every few weeks. It’s about cutting your \$3,000 annual grocery bill by \$1,000 to \$1,500 each year.

If you’re someone who puts your groceries on your credit card and you carry a balance long-term, you might be paying an extra 15% to 20% extra for your groceries (in interest).

So, that extra \$1,500 you spend each year on groceries actually costs you \$1,800 when you add in credit card interest.

If you put that \$1,800 into your 401(k), your employer will match half of that and give you \$900 in FREE MONEY. If you earn 7% on that \$2,700, you add \$189.

In short, DOING NOTHING, you can add almost \$3,000 to your retirement savings a year. Over the course of 30 years, you’ll add more than \$22,000 to your retirement savings — again, doing nothing!

It’s free money!

How much can you save by brown-bagging it work one day a week?

Let’s say you eliminate one fast-casual (like Applebee’s or Olive Garden) lunch trip per week. By the time you’re done with tax and tip, that’s about \$13 per meal. Add 20% credit card interest and you’re closer to \$16.

Your brown bag lunch of a sandwich, fruit, carrot sticks or celery, a cookie and a bottle of water (you bring from home for free because you re-use a bottle) costs you about \$2, so your net savings is \$14 per week.

\$14 X 50 weeks = \$700. Your 401k match nets you another \$350. You earn 7% on that and you end up roughly \$1,027 a year ahead. Over the course of 30 years, you add another \$7,800 to your retirement nest egg – just brown bagging it once a week.

You can find loads of ways to cut costs like this (like skipping one trip to the movies per month).

Want to retire early, or at least with a big nest egg? Start thinking small, not big and you’ll clean up.