8 essential money-saving grocery shopping techniques
Cut Your Grocery Bills by Half
by Faye Prosser
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Want to buy much more for less? Imagine filling your cart with your favorite groceries, but only paying a fraction of the total cost. By mastering the eight essential techniques, every shopper who buys groceries can get the most out of their hard-earned money.
- Learn the art of couponing. Smart shoppers know, without question, that using coupons wisely is the greatest money-saving technique when it comes to buying groceries. They know how, when and where to use those little pieces of "paper gold" and they know just where to find the best coupons for the products they prefer to buy. Their coupons are well-organized and accessible so they don't ever miss an unadvertised sale. Smart spenders pay for a good portion of their groceries using coupons and save more than 50% off their weekly budgets each and every week.
- Compare apples to apples. How do you know whether something is really a bargain just because it is on sale? By developing a Price Book, you are able to compare the price per unit of one size package to another. This allows you to compare the 200-ounce box of warehouse club bran cereal to the 20-ounce bag of the same type of cereal from the grocery store. Smart spenders know the surprising news that often the smaller container is less expensive per unit than the bulk container when used in conjunction with coupons and sales.
- Gain leverage from sales flyers. By reviewing the sales flyers that stores issue every week, you can plan your weekly menu, decide where to shop, determine what to include on your grocery list, and choose the best money-saving coupons to use at the store. Smart spenders realize that the key to the greatest savings is purchasing the best sale items listed in the weekly flyers and then using coupons for those items.
- Be a proud card-carrying member. Sign up for the frequent shopper rewards cards at the stores you shop. Without them, you won't be offered the sale prices or special incentives and you may lose out on thousands of dollars in savings a year. Many stores will even mail great money-saving coupons to members throughout the year. Smart spenders take advantage of the sale prices by using their rewards cards every time they shop.
- Savor store brand savings. Companies have worked hard to improve their private-label brands and often the taste is just as delicious as the national brand. Store brand products are generally 20% less expensive than the national brands, which means everyone should consider them as a money-saving option. Smart spenders understand that store brand items are another effective tool to lower their grocery bills and they don't let a little brand name loyalty stand in their way of savings.
- Refuse to be overcharged. Many grocery stores carry 30,000 or more items. It is not hard to imagine that there may be a price mistake or two at the register. Before you leave the store, thoroughly review your receipt to make sure you weren't overcharged. If you discover an overcharge, head straight to customer service and explain the error. Many stores have a price scan guarantee, which means that you will receive the entire cost you paid for the item and get to keep the product. Yes, this means you will take home the product for free! Smart spenders never leave the store without reviewing the receipt and requesting the price scan guarantee, when applicable.
- Enjoy delayed gratification. Yes, it's just what you were thinking. Rebates. You buy an item that offers a rebate, fill out the form exactly as required, send in the UPC, receipt or other necessary proof of purchase, and after a short delay, you get your money back in the mail. If you are thinking that it doesn't sound so difficult, you are right! Surprisingly, many people don't take advantage of the amazing rebates available for everything from beef to toothpaste to pies. Smart spenders recognize that the savings opportunities are huge, if they are willing to fill out a little form and wait patiently for their gratifying reward.
- Stick to your strategy and avoid the tactics. Do you smell the fresh cookies baking in the deli? Did you taste those free samples of cereal when you walked into the store? Welcome to the world of store tactics. Their job is to make money marketing the products they sell. Your job is to steer clear of the tactics and stick to your grocery list. Don't be enticed by the sale signs when you know something isn't a good deal. Don't go to the store hungry and don't impulse-shop (unless it's a good unadvertised buy, of course!). Smart spenders come prepared to shop for the items that will save them the most money and they avoid the clever methods designed to persuade you to part with more of your paycheck than you should.
These aren't the only money-saving techniques used by the shopping experts, but they are the basis for the very best buys.
Faye Prosser is the author of The Smart Spending Guide. Her mission is to help others become effective advocates for themselves and their hard-earned money. She teaches people how to budget, reduce debt, and save money on groceries and everyday purchases. Faye regularly conducts college courses and workshops at community colleges. With the Smart Spending Grocery System, Faye's family saves well over 50% off their weekly grocery bills! For more information on The Smart Spending Guide, see SmartSpendingResources.com.
Take the Next Step
- Discover savvy ways to trim the fat from your food budget by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
- Better than coupons. Shop smart with great cash back offers on your favorite brands at your favorite grocers. Join Ibotta today.
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