10 Do’s and Don’ts to Save Money on Groceries

My guess is that one of the best ways to save your hard-earned money every week is to save money on groceries! With good planning, and learning to follow and never deviate from that plan, saving on your grocery bill almost becomes a way of life.

While good planning is the key to save money on groceries, there are still things you can do to limit your spending while you're shopping at the store.

Because it is something you do so often, every week, it is a keystone to your budget. And you already know that it is so easy to blow it completely up if and when you stop paying attention to it. That’s the reason I want to highlight for you the do’s and don’ts that are really easy ways to limit your spending while you’re shopping at the store. Whether it’s avoiding the influence of the supermarket as they try to coax you into spending more, or by simply asking for what you want, these ways to save actually work!

The Do’s and Don’ts that Save Money on Groceries

1. Don’t ever fill up your cart all the way

Have you seen the size of some of the new shopping carts these days? Shopping carts have increased in size by over 35% in recent years to encourage you to fill them and spend more. The fact is that we think that we haven’t spent enough if we have room left in the cart. Use a smaller cart whenever you can, but be disciplined and don’t ever buy just because it fits in your cart!

2. Do compare prices…always

Make sure you compare more than just the basic milk, eggs, bread, and bananas, which are the most remembered items by shoppers. Add at least five more items that you buy every week to see if they are a good deal as well, and find out which stores have the best prices across the board. You can even create a price tracking notebook for yourself to compare.

3. Don’t listen to the music

You have already noticed that the supermarket is a very cool place and is always playing music, most of it you know and love. Stop listening to it! The soundtrack you hear at the store is generally designed to make you slow down and shop longer by an average of 29%. Bring your earbuds instead and listen to your own music. Keep in mind that faster and brisker-paced tunes will help you cut your time and therefore your expenses when you shop!

4. Do ask for discounts

If you’re thinking, “Gary, there is no way the supermarket is going to give me a discount if I simply ask for one,” you’d be wrong!

But guess what? You never get what you never ask for. When it comes to some items, it is easier than you think. For fresh meat and bakery goods that will reach their sell-by date within 24 hours, ask the department staff for a markdown. They want to move those items before their sell-by expiration dates and asking at the right time gets you big savings. These items are all still worth purchasing and usually will be marked to about half price when you ask.

5. Don’t be brand loyal

Each week, different brands are promoted and that is especially true in canned items. The truth is, no matter how you have been conditioned, there isn’t much difference between brands. Even store or generic items are sometimes made and canned by the same companies as the brands and are much less expensive. Why pay for all their advertising and brand recognition efforts? Try the generics and store brands and you’ll most likely not be able to taste the difference, but you will save a lot!

6. Don’t assume products on the end caps are always a good buy

Did you know that stores often sell space to manufacturers to get the best-seen spots for product visibility? That’s one way stores make money and don’t even have to sell anything at all to you to earn it! Even signs that say “great buy” or “special” may not be a sale, or the sale might not be the best value even if it says it is. Remember, special buys are only special if you need it and want it. Always compare the end cap items to what’s in the aisle to find the best price.

7. Do ask for a rain check when the sale item you want isn’t in stock

What is more frustrating that seeing an advertised special and then when you try to find it, it’s sold out! It happens all the time as some items are simply used to draw you in and are intended to sell out quickly. But stores will gladly get you what you want if you ask. Most stores will provide rain checks or even substitute and sometimes upgrade an item just to please you, and the rain checks are good for an extended period of time. You would be shocked to learn how many people never even ask for them.

8. Do keep track of your spending as you shop

Keep a running total of your shopping trip either in your head, with a calculator or app, or with the store’s scanning device if they offer that option. Knowing what you’re spending as you shop will help you control your expenses and stay within budget. You can’t tell what you’re spending simply by looking at your shopping cart!

9. Don’t ever shop when checking out

The items at the register—magazines, candy, gum, and even cold sodas—are the store’s way of tempting you with last-minute impulse buys. Don’t let them add unnecessary spending to your weekly trip. You know you have fallen victim to this too many times.

10. Do check your store receipt after each trip

Stop before you leave the store and check your receipt. Make sure all items scanned correctly and credit is correct for all coupons and discounts. I find mistakes on almost every trip to the supermarket. If they made an error, bring it to customer service and get it credited before you head home.

Final Thoughts

As simple as these do’s and don’ts seem, they truly work. If you really want to save money on groceries, incorporate these methods into your routine. As you practice these keys, they become easier and easier and you will see a significant savings in your weekly grocery budget, too.

What are your favorite in-store do’s and don’ts to save on your grocery bills?

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