Monday, July 22, 2024

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Grocery Tips: Don’t Overspend At The Grocery Store!

Think racing to the store for a loaf of bread is a simple task?  Once through the door you are immediately bombarded with tempting bakery goods, pre-made foods and isles of fattening, tasty junk foods.  It’s not easy to get in and get out with a simple loaf of bread.  Below are a few tips to help you combat the urge to splurge on food items you don’t really need.

A grocery list is a must.  If you follow your grocery list you’re far more likely to purchase only the items you actually need.  It’s when you start browsing down the isles, following your keen sense of smell that you find yourself adding items to your cart you don’t need.

Another helpful idea is to bring a calculator with you.  Nothing will squash the thrill of filling your cart full of goodies, then the total dollars being spent for those goodies boldly displayed in front of you.  Setting a budget before you shop is a great way to stop the mindless accumulation of food products you don’t really need. Check packaging weight of products.  Sometimes a great deal isn’t really a great deal at all.  Just clever marketing to make you think you’re saving money.  Individual small boxes of raisins for example, are twice the price of a bag of raisins the same weight.  Individual servings seems like a great idea, until you figure up the overall cost. 

Before shopping, figure out the price you are willing to pay for pre-prepared foods.  Make it a habit not to buy food products that aren’t on sale, or that are priced higher then your preset pricing.  It you buy TV dinners, wait until they go on sale then load up.  Spending more one week on pre-pared food, actually saves you money in the long run.  When you find bargain pricing on meat, stock up.  We have a local grocery store that runs fantastic deals on meat twice a year.  The money saved during the meat sales, pays the grocery bill for the next couple of weeks.

We know the cash register area is lined with impulse products.  Like magazines, candy bars, gum, lint rollers, super glue, the list is lengthy.  As we wait patiently in line, it’s hard not to gaze over the tempting sugary treats laid out in front of us.  If something is on sale and you need it… then buy it.  If the product isn’t on sale and you don’t need it, practice putting your hands in your pocket.

If bakery items call your name, why not buy a box of cake mix for $1.29, a can of $1.50 frosting and bake your own delicious treat?  It’s easier then you think and you’ll save money foregoing the $8.00- $12.00 store bought cake.  Moderation is good; depriving yourself of bakery goods is not. We all need and deserve a treat.  There are lots of ways to fill your cupboards and refrigerator with your favorite foods, without breaking the bank.  For instance, learn to cut out coupons in magazines and newspapers.  The savings add up quickly.  Take advantage of super sales.  Buy large quantities of meat and use freezer bags to divide the meat in to several meals.  Shop at the Dollar Store.  You’ll save a fortune on cleaning supplies, freezer bags, greeting cards, gift boxes, gift bags and health products. Saving money and living well do go hand in hand.

Grocery stores are no longer the innocent corner markets set up by mom and pop.

They are now highly complicated marketing machines designed to maximize profitability by drawing shoppers to the highest-profit items and hypnotizing them into reaching for products they don’t really need.

Here’s the top ten ways to improve your odds of overcoming the house advantage created by sophisticated contemporary grocery store design:

10.   Leave the Kids Home –No matter how stern you want to be, it’s naturally difficult to say no to your child, especially if they start causing a scene. Avoid the drama by leaving them home, if possible. If you must bring them, give them something inexpensive right away – such as a box animal crackers or a juice box – to distract them until you can make your way the checkout counter.  But be careful, you will still have to run the gauntlet of the checkout line, where the most colorfully packaged, overpriced impulse items are right at kid grab level.

9.   Use a Hand Basket – If you’re planning to buy only a few items, reach for the hand basket rather than a shopping cart. You’ll force yourself to carry your purchases  throughout the store, discouraging you from adding items you don’t need. Big, empty shopping carts subconsciously trigger an impulse in shoppers to want to fill them up – which is why shopping carts seem to get bigger every year. If a store doesn’t offer hand baskets, let the manager know you’ll stop shopping there until they get them.

8.   Watch Out for Bells and Whistles – Are there flat screen TVs at the checkouts showing “cooking shows” that are really ads in disguise? Is the wine section elaborately decorated to look like a vineyard? All those extravagant extras are built into the price of your groceries.  Odds are, another store without the glitz will be less expensive.

7.   Read the Signs  – Most stores have “circulars”, or paper ad sheets, at the entrance. These are great for identifying sale items before you start shopping. While walking from your car to the door, make a point of reading any sale signs posted on the store’s windows. Usually, these are the store’s best values, loss leaders designed to lure passers by in from the street.

6.    Compare price/ounce – When comparing different brands of the same item, ignore any “sale” pricing and compare cost per ounce. Stores are legally required to post these below the sale price. You may need a calculator to figure this out and many stores discourage this comparison by making the print very small, so bring your reading glasses.  You’ll be surprised how often a sale is no bargain.

5.    Look for the generic – When it comes to canned or dry items, there’s usually a generic, or “packer brand”, alternative. In many cases, these come from the exact same production line as the name brand, but are less expensive because there are no marketing and advertising expenses built into the cost of the item.

4.    Don’t shop hungry – It’s a physiological fact: People who have not eaten before going to the store are more likely to load up on unnecessary items. Make sure to eat a little something so you are not at the mercy of low blood sugar or hunger pangs. Be strong! Your family is depending on you.

3.    Use Store Card – Many big chain stores now offer deep discounts on certain items to customers who use their loyalty cards, which also allow store owners to track your purchases and market directly to your preferences. But the costs of these discounts are simply added to all the other items that are not discounted. Sign up for these free cards at the big chains, but try to buy only the discounted items. You usually will be able to find the non-discounted items on your list for less somewhere else.

2.   Zone Your List – Grocery stores are like casinos: The more time you spend in them, the more money you’ll spend. Remember, marketing experts work hard to convince you to buy their products. Minimize your exposure by zoning your grocery list for maximum efficiency – group produce with produce, canned goods with canned goods, etc. Also, spend less time shopping by going during the least busy hours  — after dinner or early in the morning, if possible. If you only shop weekend afternoons, odds are you’ll be stuck in an aisle longer and end up buying more items.

1.    Stick to your list – This is the most important rule: If it isn’t on the list, don’t buy it. Carefully create your shopping list before you set out, listing every item you need for the menus you have planned. Before you leave, double check to make sure you don’t already have any of these items. While shopping, if you are tempted to reach for an item not on your list, resist this temptation and make a note to come back for it another time. You’ll be surprised when you get home how much you really didn’t need that item.

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