How to Save Money When Grocery Shopping
Pretty much everyone out there doing the “Adulthood” thing understands the importance of saving money at every possible turn. It can be especially difficult to do this when shopping for food, since after all…we kind of need it to get by.
It doesn’t help that all grocery stores are designed with very specific psychology in mind to ensure that shoppers spend as much money as possible while on site. The longer you stay in a grocery store, the more money you will end up spending. In fact, it is estimated that once you have been inside the store for 30 minutes, each extra minute that you spend will cost you an additional $.50 to $1.00.
Here are a few ways you can combat this with some smart thinking of your own:
What’s the best way to avoid spending too much time at the grocery store? Don’t go!
There are a variety of home delivery services that are available nationwide and even more local services that you may have available to you depending on your location. The services all vary in what they have to offer and how often you will be able to order from them. Some allow you to order a full shopping list of your own creation, while other will send you the ingredients to specific recipes, instructions and all.
You should take some time to investigate all of the delivery services available to you and decide for yourself which ones work best for your lifestyle. You can use these services whenever you find yourself running low, or even set up recurring deliveries for items you need to restock weekly or monthly.
When you do visit the grocery store, you should always plan ahead. Make a list of all of the groceries you will need for the week, and don’t deviate from your list once you enter the store. The best way to create a list that you know will cover your needs is to follow a weekly meal plan. This way you will know everything you need for your weekly visit and you won’t be going back later for one or two items you forgot.
Know the Layout
Grocery stores are designed with profit in mind, down to the layout of every aisle. Grocery store aisles are designed to keep you inside the store as long as possible. The items that are shopped for most frequently are usually arranged around the edges of the store. These items include the bakery, produce, and floral sections. To maximize your time, we suggest following an optimized path through the store.
Start at the front corner of the store and work your way all the way around the outside edge before going down any of the aisles. After you have picked up everything you need from this area, continue down each aisle consecutively, weaving back towards the side of the store where you initially started. Skip any aisles that do not contain items on your list, and avoid picking up items that you did not write down before coming to the store.
Avoid the ready-to-eat section completely. You should consider everything in this section to be fast food. Though it may be tempting to pick up a few of these pre-cooked items, they are not the groceries you are looking for.
Most people think that buying in bulk and clipping coupons are the best ways to save money at the grocery store. While these methods certainly have their merits, they can both be major money traps.
When buying in bulk, remember to only buy items that you can actually use before they expire. Never bulk buy perishable items that may go bad before you are able to make use of them. You may also want to consider where you will store any bulk items that you purchase, as you won’t want them sitting out all around your house with nowhere proper to go.
Coupon clipping is probably the most popular method to cut down on grocery spending, but many coupon users have a bad habit of using any coupon they can get their hands on. You should never buy something you would not normally buy and do not really need just because you have a coupon for it. This is how grocery stores can trick people into spending more money while thinking they are actually saving.
Fight Your Impulse
You’ve planned your shopping list ahead, navigated the store successfully, and have a cart full of only the items you intended to buy.
Finally, you are in the home stretch. The cash registers are in sight, and you are herded through the checkout aisles. Here is where it gets tough. Checkout aisles are specifically designed to encourage impulse buying. Every item you will find at the checkout stand is an eye-catcher that you are more likely to pick up without a second thought. You’ll pass by some cold drinks, candy, and maybe a few batteries. Hold your ground!
You have plenty of drinks in your cart and will enjoy them when you get home.
You have an oversized pack of batteries in the office drawer at home.
Try to avoid everything at the checkout counter by any means necessary. Only buy something if you absolutely need it. Focus on the register and the prices of your items as they are rung up. This will help to ensure that everything was priced correctly and you are getting the most bang for your buck. Once everything has been added up, pay with cash instead of credit.
MIT has conducted a study that explored the effects that paying with cash or credit can have on spending habits and concluded that our willingness to spend is increased by up to 100% when using a credit card. Stopping by the bank and using cash can help you avoid impulse buying as well as stick to your budget.
Once you get your receipt, double check everything and make sure there weren’t any mishaps or doubles. If all is well, pat yourself on the back. You’ve completed the impossible task of grocery shopping without spending unnecessary funds. Stick to these suggestions and in no time you will be the guru of the marketplace, saving money everywhere you shop and seeing the results every week in your wallet.