A Little Homework
Planning before you head off to the supermarket will help you shop more economically. Take the time to do a quick inventory of your kitchen to determine the food that you need. Prepare your shopping list and make notations of applicable coupons that you may want to use. Read the newspapers and circulars to find the best deals.
Choosing the Right Store
For basic grocery needs many grocery stores now offer excellent product and price selection, frequent shoppers programs and double coupon days. However, when buying in bulk you may want to tackle the warehouse clubs or superstores. Non-perishable items are often at unbeatable prices at such stores. For the best prices on health and beauty products check the national drugstore chains and superstores.
Grocery stores know the power of the sweet smell of freshly baked bread. Just one sniff will ignite the appetite and send even the most hardened shopper down the aisle grabbing for anything that looks good. Remember, everything looks good when our stomachs are screaming, "feed me!"
Coupons, Rebates, and Frequent Shopper Programs
You can save hundreds of dollars a year by taking advantage of product incentives. Even the less enthusiastic coupon clipper can shave an average of 10 percent off their bottom-line by cashing in a small handful of coupons per trip.
If your store offers a frequent shopper program, why not sign-up? You will receive advanced notice of special loss leaders, double-coupon days and other money saving information.
Store Brands - Try it, You May Like It
The days of generic type packaging and bland tasting food in store brand products is over. Companies have worked hard to improve their private-label brands and often the taste is equal to the national brands. Do not be afraid to experiment. If you find the product meets your standards, you can save an average of 40 percent off your annual grocery bill.
Setting Limits on Impulse Buying
Avoiding spontaneous shopping trips is one of the best deterrents to impulse buying. Sticking to a well thought-out shopping list will help will help cut down on grabbing for things that you do not need. In addition, giving yourself enough time to shop will help prevent dashing in and reaching for the first item that you come to. Setting a dollar limit for impulse buying will help soothe cravings without busting the budget.
To determine the true value of a product read the unit price, not just the package price. The unit price information is usually on a sticker located on the shelf that holds the item. The package price only tells you the cost of the entire item. The unit price shows the cost per pound, ounce, etc. Taking a moment to compare this information in similar products will help you get the best value for your dollar. Also, be certain to check "expiration" and "use by" dates to insure you are buying the freshest products.
Beware of Marketing Strategies
Avoid marketing ploys designed to draw your attention to a particular product. Knowing some of the tricks of the trade will ultimately save you money. Beware of end-of-the-aisle dump bins, island displays, recipe related item placement and middle-shelf items. This is typically where higher priced and impulse products are placed.
Learn to Be a Label Reader
Reading the product label is the best way to find out more than what is advertised on the box. Ingredients are listed in order by the quantity actually used when making the product. The ingredients used in the highest quantity are listed first. For example, if you are looking for avocado dip you will want to see avocadoes listed in the first part of the ingredient list, not the last part.
If you are looking to cut fat from your diet, be careful of words such as "lite" or "fat-free" which can have broad definitions. By reading the label you can get a better idea of what the fat-to-calorie ratio is as well as other valuable nutritional information.
Watch the Scanner
It may mean you need to put down the magazine, because this is no place to get lax. Keeping your eyes peeled to the scanner has dual advantages. First, it will keep the cashier more alert. Secondly, it will allow you to stop the checkout process if an item is showing the incorrect price. Keeping the store circular nearby is also helpful in disputing an incorrect price. You can also ask the cashier to stop ringing while you accompany the employee to the aisle to check the price of an item.