Grocery shopping is war, plain and simple. And stores have a whole arsenal of weapons that render the average grocery shopper utterly powerless to defend themselves. It is going to take a lot of work and a lot of discipline to counter these attacks for one simple reason namely, they go to a lot of trouble in planning their attack on whatever low cost grocery shopping tips you may have in mind. You need to know and understand that not a single store can afford to be the cheapest. Their goal is be the most expensive but to look the cheapest.
The Low Down Sneaky Sneaky
The first grocery shopping tip you should know is… know your enemy. He is a cunning, ruthless piece of work who will stop at nothing to extract as much money from you as possible. Here are a few of his tricks.
- Colorful Flyers – Do not be fooled. The flyers you get along with your local newspaper or in your mail box are not the work of a benevolent shop owner who is concerned about your financial well-being. That flyer is designed to do one thing and one thing only and that is to get you into his shop. Once you’re there, he has a host of other tricks up his sleeve. You may just gloss through that flyer but you can be sure that every product in it has been carefully put there because he knows what you want.
- Colorful Banners and Price Markers – Shop owners have us so well trained that the moment we see him making a fuss about a product we assume it’s the cheapest. Don’t be fooled by colorful banners or price markers.
- “Twofers” – Oh, they love this trick, sometimes known as the BOGOF. Two for the price of one, or buy one, get one free. Only buy products whose quality you can assess from the outside. Avoid things like bug spray because every now and then the supplier has a bad batch and he offers a “Twofer” because he doesn’t want to carry the loss.
- Limited to Six Per Customer – The next time you see this stand a while and watch to see how few people will take fewer than six. It pretends to be a concern about having enough to go round but in reality our psychology compels us to take six where we would normally have taken only one or two.
- Store Layout – Have you ever noticed that the meat counter or the dairy fridge is always at the back of the store or stuck away somewhere. They want you take the whole trip because they know that on your way to get necessity items you will see tons of stuff you want but don’t need.
- Don’t Check Out The Check Outs – If all else fails and he really cannot get you to buy the junk he has displayed so carefully throughout his store, he will pile it all up at the checkout points to tantalize and entice you while you’re waiting to pay. Chapstick, chocolates, chewing gum, soft drinks and magazines. In short, all the stuff you did not plan on buying in the first place.
Preparing for Battle During The Month
Now that you know some of the enemy’s tricks, and he has many more, let’s start preparing our own battle plan of low cost grocery shopping tips. There are things you need to do every day during the month because you can be sure that the shop owner is working just as hard on his own battle plan every day.
- Make A List – And check it twice, as the song goes. This is your basic battle plan and the more detail you have like previous prices and quantities, the better. As you run out, jot it down on your list. Plan your menu if you must so that you know exactly what you need. Then stick to the list.
- Stick To A Budget – Most people budget, at least roughly in their mind but the problem is sticking to it.
- Prepare Your Bags – Either get cloth grocery bags or save the ones from last month to take with you on your shopping trip. This will save you a lot of money over the year.
Preparing Your Mind for Battle
As with many things, the mind plays an important role in whatever we do. Consumers have a few really expensive ideas when it comes to shopping for groceries. Here are some grocery shopping tips you will need to know while preparing for battle.
- Brand Loyalty – Charles Lindberg was the first person to do a solo trans-Atlantic flight. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to do so and we remember them for the simple reason that they were first.
The second guy who did it was a better pilot than Lindberg, he used less fuel and did it faster but he was second and so he slipped into obscurity right alongside whatshisname. Because you grew up with a product does not mean that it is the best. One of the most important low cost grocery shopping tips is to downshift a brand level. If you usually buy four of a product, get three of your favorite brand and one store brand and then see if your family even notices the difference.
- The Carnivore Mentality – Contrary to what you have may have been taught, nobody will die if they do not have meat at every meal. In fact changing your focus from meat to protein will only highlight the redundancy of meals like bacon and eggs. There are many non-meat meals that your family will love.
Preparing for Battle on the Day
The day has arrived. You must go to war and there are a few grocery shopping tips you need to have ready before you reach the battleground.
- Have Your Coupons Ready. Use coupons only for the things you need and have them ready. Coupons have been known to lie in drawers for years after their expiry date.
- Have Your Loyalty Card Ready. The points you add up can mean a lot over the space of a year.
- Do A Larder Inventory. Check what you have and take it off your list.
- Eat Before You Shop. And that means eat at home, not the local take out joint or restaurant.
Actually Fighting the Battle
This is it. You’re on the battlefield and you’re going head to head with that smiley shop owner. You may think he’s smiling but he’s really baring his teeth.
- Stay Focused. Don’t let their tricks get to you unless you judge it to be a good deal.
- Stick To Your List. It’s wonderful to browse through the store and see all the great things they have on offer. But save that for another day when you plan to take no money with you. Now, you’re at war, stick to the plan.
- Keep A Running Tally. Or get your kids to do it. They sometimes get a kick out of that. Round off everything to the next highest whole number so that there will be no surprises at the checkout and you don’t have to do a lot of complicated Math.
- Use Cash Only. Debit cards make it too easy to spend and credit cards are simply way too expensive.
- Buy In Bulk. Non-perishable things like toilet paper and certain foodstuffs are good to buy in bulk if you can.
- Watch the Cash Register. Even in today’s world of modern technology items can be scanned twice or mispriced.
Can you really say that didn’t feel good? To walk into that store and know what that cunning little man is all about and using his own tricks against him to keep some of your hard-earned money right where it belongs must be one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. You won and you have a little extra cash and whether you spend it on something important or save it for a rainy day makes no difference. You’ve taken control of your finances and given yourself one of the most important gifts of all and that is the freedom of choice. You get to decide what you’re going to do with that money and not some sneaky little shop owner. Of course there are many money-saving grocery shopping tips out there and as you become a more highly trained soldier in this monthly war, so too, you’ll become more accurate, more cunning and more efficient. Every month will be a challenge and every month will see you victorious because you took some time out to prepare yourself. It’s really just a paradigm shift. Shopping can be loads of fun but grocery shopping can be a total bore. When you do grocery shopping, make that the only kind of shopping you do. Don’t try to squeeze in clothing, linen, furniture or appliances. Save them for another day. But if there is one more in a list of low cost grocery shopping tips that you need to know it is simply that you have fun with grocery shopping too.
Originally posted 2011-10-18 23:05:38.