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Saving money at the grocery store is one of the best ways to cut back on your spending, save for something big, or slash your debt. Grocery stores are designed to reel us in and trick us into spending more than we intend. With some extra knowledge on your part, these 15 obstacles that keep you from saving money at the grocery store won’t be an issue any longer.
Knowledge is Power
The more you know and understand about what and where you are shopping, the more you are going to save. Learning about the scientifically-proven tricks that grocery stores use will keep you in budget for years to come.
Obstacle #1: You ignore discount stores. It is very easy to dismiss discount stores like Aldi and the dollar store for grocery trips, but when you do you are missing out on places to save on your grocery bill. Aldi has many items that are regularly priced lower than regular grocery stores’ sale prices. The dollar store can often help you save on items like spices, cleaning products, and even frozen foods.
Obstacle #2: You are buying out of season. Buying produce out of season is a great way to spend more on groceries than you intend. Strawberries are not in season in December and any you buy are going to be marked up in price (and probably not very tasty, either). Learn the seasons for all your favorite produce items so you’ll know when to buy them and when to avoid them.
Obstacle #3: You are buying more organic than necessary. Organic foods are great. They keep harmful pesticides out of your body. They are also more expensive. By sticking to the Dirty Dozen list, you can be certain that the organic items you are buying are both great for your budget and your body.
Obstacle #4: You don’t know the prices of items you buy. It’s very important if you are trying to save money to know when a price is a good deal or a catchy gimmick. Keeping a list of the rock bottom price you have found for all the regular items you buy is a great way to save on groceries. This way, you’ll know when to stock up and when to pass on a sale.
Obstacle #5: You are swayed by end caps and promotions. You can save a TON of money just by understanding the marketing of product placement. The ends of grocery store aisles are there to grab your attention and convince you to spend more. They are typically items with a high markup in price and rarely hold actual sales. Avoid being swayed by those flashy end caps and other promotions placed around the store with bright displays.
Obstacle #6 : You aren’t shopping with the right tunes. Research has found that shoppers spend more money at the grocery store when slower, soft music is playing over the air waves. To keep yourself from becoming too “spendy,” pop in your earbuds and turn on an upbeat playlist!
Exert Extra Energy
Obstacle #7: You are throwing away coupons. Coupons can be a great savings tool, when used properly. When paired with a good deal (see Obstacle #4), coupons can save you money. To get even more savings, check out my coupon database, sign up for your grocery store’s loyalty card and use apps like SavingsStar, Ibotta, Cartwheel, Checkout51, and Favado.
Obstacle #8: You are throwing away food. If you’ve been overworked and extra tired lately, chances are you’ve hit the fastfood drive thru or called in a pizza. Not only does this cost you extra money, but it may force you to throw food out that has gone bad and could have been eaten that night. Exert the extra energy to cook as often as possible to save budget at the grocery store.
Obstacle #9: You are eating prepackaged foods. Sure a prepackaged dinner saves you time when you are exhausted and those pre-made treats make packing lunches easier, but prepackaged foods cost more money than their homemade counterparts. If you want to save money, make muffins from scratch or cook extra at dinner and freeze the leftovers. Skip the prepackaged items to save your budget and your waistline, too.
Planning is Everything
Obstacle #10: You don’t shop with a plan. If you head to the store without a shopping list, an idea of what you are cooking in the days to come or any knowledge about what’s on sale, you are setting yourself up to spend more than necessary. Always create a shopping list of what you need and stick to it!
Obstacle #11: You aren’t menu planning. Do you look at the fridge and pantry when you get home from work and decide on what’s for dinner? Maybe you consider it as you are driving home and plan a quick trip to the store to buy what you need? If you aren’t planning your meals ahead of time, chances are you are spending far too much money on groceries. Plan your menu based on sales at the store, what you already have on hand, and seasonal produce. How about a whole 3 weeks worth of dinners for $150 and one shopping trip? Check out my ALDI meals plans that will help you do just that!
Obstacle #12: You are visiting the grocery store too often. If you haven’t been planning your meals then chances are you have been making extra trips to the grocery store to get items you need for dinner. Those trips for “just a couple of things” always add up to more than you planned. They also add up to extra money you hadn’t planned to spend. Do your budget a favor and plan your meals in advance.
Obstacle #13: You go shopping when hungry. Shopping when hungry is always a bad idea. You are more likely to buy food you wouldn’t normally buy. Impulse purchases can raise your spending and blow your budget away. Always eat before you shop and if you can’t do that, drink a big glass of water before hand, or chew mint flavored gum.
Obstacle #14: Shopping with kids (and a spouse). It is really hard to stick to a budget when kids or spouses are with you. They get bored easily, start to whine or fuss and sometimes the best way to quiet them is to buy that “treat” they are begging you to buy. This not only costs you more but chances are, that “treat” isn’t very healthy. Plan to do the shopping alone to keep your costs AND time down.
Obstacle #15: Shopping with plastic. When you shop with a credit or debit card, you are more than likely going to allow yourself to go over budget. By walking into the store with the exact amount of cash you are willing to spend on a shopping trip and nothing else, you force yourself to stick to the budget you have set.
With a little bit of knowledge, energy and planning you can avoid grocery store obstacles that harm your budget. When you are able to avoid them, your savings will increase, your debt will decrease and your budget will work for you!