11 Things Your Grocery Store Doesn’t Want You To Know
Most of us have had the experience of running into the grocery store for a gallon of milk and some eggs and spending $50 on things we didn’t need. Grocery stores are designed to get us to spend as much as possible, but using these tips you’ll be able to resist temptation and keep your food budget on track.
1. Leave the cards at home.
Just bring the cash you need to get the job done. This can be tricky if you’re not familiar with how much things usually cost, but with experience you’ll be able to keep it pretty close to the amount. Knowing that you only have a finite amount of cash to spend will force you to keep a running tally on how much you’re spending and limit your ability to make impulse buys.
If worse comes to worse and you underestimate the amount of cash you’ll need, ask yourself if you really need everything on your list. Can something be put off until your next shopping trip, or could you simply do without it? Remember, nobody has ever died from not having sour cream for their tacos.
2. Beware the end caps.
Items displayed on the end caps are not necessarily bargains. When we see a special display, we automatically assume that the items involved are on special. This isn’t necessarily so – be sure to look for the tag that says what the regular price of the item is to see if you will really save.
Most importantly, if you have no need for the item in the foreseeable future, don’t buy it even if it is a good deal.
3. Don’t fall for the power of suggestion.
Just because it says 5 for $5 doesn’t mean you have to buy 5.
Check your grocery store’s policy, as results may vary, but many stores don’t require you to buy all 5 to get the sale price. Even if you do, if you have no need for 5, it’s better to spend the higher cost for one unit than spend more to get a lower unit price on items you don’t need.
After all $1.25 is less out of your pocket than $5.
4. That last one works both ways.
“Limit 4″ doesn’t mean you have to buy 4.
Most people will automatically buy as many items as the limit says even if they only want or need one or two. Grocery stores sometimes put these limits on to ensure they have plenty of stock for all of their customers, but they also do it to take advantage of this human quirk that keeps us from wanting to be a victim of scarcity.
Seeing a limit tricks us into believing that there is a shortage or it’s an incredibly good deal. But this isn’t always the case. Only buy what you need and you will always be buying the proper amount.
5. Sales run in cycles.
That great deal will almost assuredly come around again. There is never a need to go crazy and buy four or five times what you will be needing in the immediate future. If you regularly take the time to read grocery store fliers, you’ll get a good idea of how often items you use go on sale and buy accordingly.
In the meantime, for most families stocking up means that you either go through the product much faster than you would have normally because it seems like you have plenty or it can become suddenly unappealing with nobody wanting to eat it.
6. You don’t always save in bulk.
Larger packages don’t always have a lower per unit price than smaller ones. Be sure to check if you are buying in bulk to save money. If you are using coupons, you might save even more by buying several of the smaller sizes and applying a coupon to each one.
It’s easy for our eyes to fall victim to the more for less mentality, but this will actually save you money far less than you probably think. Read the fine print, do the math, and make the decision that’s best for your budget.
7. You don’t have to go down every aisle.
Why tempt yourself and waste your valuable time? Stick to the areas of the store that have the items on your list and ignore the rest. Again, with experience you’ll be able to write your list ahead of time and organize it by aisle, especially if you frequent the same grocery store most of the time.
Avoid the need to look at everything to find what you need, and you won’t feel the sudden need to buy things you weren’t looking for in the first place.
8. The store brand isn’t always the cheapest.
We hear a lot about saving money with store brands and generics. Urban legend clearly states that these store brands will often lead to a great deal. However, sometimes people looking to save money automatically reach for the store brand without ever checking to see how much they are really saving.
Yes, they might be priced a few pennies lower, but most name brand products also have coupons available. This means you can often get them for cheaper than the store brand.
9. Scanners are not infallible.
Be sure to keep a close eye as your groceries are being rung up to make sure that everything is ringing up as it should be. You should never be shy to point out errors, especially on sale items that brought you into the store in the first place.
It isn’t that most stores are actively looking to scam you, but the data is originally entered by a human and human errors are always possible. Just think, you’re doing everyone a favor by pointing them out.
10. Items in the flyer are not always on sale.
It might very well be the regular price or even marked up in anticipation of high demand! This is why it pays to know typical prices of the items you buy so that you’ll know when a deal is worth making a special trip or going to a different supermarket.
If you shop in the same grocery store the majority of the time, you should be able to develop a good idea of the average price of those things you buy most. Pay attention and don’t fall for the “it’s on the flyer it must be on sale” mindset.
11. Beware of items marked “bargain” or “economy.”
Such items might not always be the best deal.
I remember once looking at a package of pork chops marked “economy pack.” There was nothing wrong with them, but it seemed to be a bunch of end pieces with a lot of fat, gristle and bone. I compared it with a pack of center cut loin chops and found that the price difference was only about 20 cents a pound with the center cut chops having a lot more edible meat on them.
When comparing prices, don’t neglect to keep in mind the differences in quality. If you throw away half of something, it’s not a bargain at all.
Arm yourself with knowing the methods that most grocery stores will use to tempt you into buy those things you don’t need. This will help you to save money each week on groceries while filling your kitchen with foods that you’ll actually look forward to eating, rather than items bought on impulse and immediately forgotten.
Even if it’s a good deal, if you have no use for it, there is no reason to buy it. Next time you go to the grocery store, remember that you make the rules. Just because the grocery store doesn’t want you to know certain things, doesn’t mean you should be in the dark!
Tracy O’Connor is the mother of 5 boys and a ghostwriter who knows how to make every cent count. Follow her on Twitter.
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