Let’s face it – from busy parking lots to long lines, grocery shopping can be stressful. Shopping online is an easy way to watch your budget, but what happens when you go into your local store and can’t see the items in your cart adding up? Here are some tips to navigate a smart shopping experience and eliminate the traditional headache.
Make a List to Avoid Impulse Purchases
Planning out your meals and coming to the store with a list of items to stick to is essential. Start with a list of things you are looking to purchase and the price expectation, and see how that fits your groceries budget. Once you have this prepped, you can prioritize items in case your budget is limited.
Keeping to Your Budget by Shopping With Cash
Do you often find yourself spending a lot more than anticipated? Avoid blowing past your budget by taking out only the money you plan on spending based on the preset list you came to the store with. When you limit yourself to only using cash, you can’t spend more than what you have in your hand!
Buy in Bulk, but Don’t Buy Too Much
The concept of buying power reigns true even on a consumer level; the more you buy, the more you will save (in many cases). Buying in bulk can be a great way to save additional money. Look for sales like “two packages for $5” and “buy ten cans, get one free.” Still, be aware of any expiration dates and don’t buy so much that you have to throw things away. If you do buy extras, be sure to freeze any perishable items until you need them.
Use a Basket, Not a Cart
Try this mental trick: if you’re not buying in bulk and only need a few items, use a basket instead of a cart. By using a basket, you will limit yourself to a smaller number of items due to the sheer size of the basket versus the cart. Additionally, as the basket gets progressively heavier, you can guarantee you will rush faster to checkout and limit your time in the store as well as your spending!
Visit Discount Grocery Stores
While visiting your local supermarket may be most convenient, it may not be the cheapest. Check out your nearest dollar store before you run to the grocery store. You may be able to check a lot of things off your list for just a few dollars. Additionally, try visiting a variety of grocers in your area to figure out which one is the cheapest. You might find that you could save $20 or more per trip if you shop at Walmart instead of Publix, for example
Skip the Name Brand, Buy Generic
According to Money Crashers, “Burt Flickinger III, a retail consultant interviewed by Consumer Reports, notes that store brands are generally at least 20% to 25% cheaper than comparable brand-name products.”
Buying generic products gets you the same product at a cheaper cost. Most of the time, the products will be identical, and you can compare the label to make sure you are getting the same inputs within your desired outcome. Generic suppliers open the marketplace to other competition driving the price of products downwards. This is particularly prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry, but the same concept applies to retailers alike.
According to the FDA, “When multiple generic companies market a single approved product, market competition typically results in prices about 85% less than the brand-name.”
For more tips on cutting costs on your grocery store trips, read our article about cooking on a budget!
About the Author
Tom is a wealth management researcher and has years of experience working in the financial services industry. He is passionate about helping people better understand their personal finances. Outside of work, Tom loves to be outdoors and particularly near a beach somewhere.