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25 Supermarket Tricks You Should Try Now To Save More Money

25 Supermarket Tricks You Should Try Now To Save More Money

If you follow the 50/30/20 budget created by Elizabeth Warren, you’ll find that 50% of your income should go toward the essentials — housing, utilities, and groceries. This means that it’s important for you to ensure that your dollar goes a long way so you can save the most money on this essential part of your budget. But how can you do that? Thankfully, there are a ton of tips, tricks, and mobile applications available to help out. Today, we will take a look at 25 supermarket tips and tricks to help you save money.

1. Join Supermarket Rewards

Various grocery stores have supermarket rewards programs that allow you to save a certain percentage on purchases, and receive exclusive offers and coupons. Check your local grocery store’s websites or ask about them in-store. Most of the time, they come in the form of a reward card or simply through using your telephone number. This means that when other family members go shopping, they can help rack up rewards for the whole family.

2. Don’t Buy Heads of Lettuce

A head of lettuce may seem like a cheaper option; however, because they are more likely to rot faster, they may be a wasteful option in the end. In addition, a head of lettuce could be more than you’ll actually need for your weekly meals. Bagged or boxed lettuce is much better than iceberg.

3. Know When to Buy Bulk

If you have certain groceries that are consistently purchased each week or month, you may find that buying in bulk is a cheaper option. Instead of buying a box each week for $2.50 each, you’ll save more purchasing the $6 three pack. This works best with groceries that don’t perish quickly.

4. Create and Maintain a Budget

The only way you can truly save money is to plan before spending, not vice versa. Giving yourself a grocery allowance ensures that you have a spending goal to not surpass. A common practice is to use the envelope method to save money each month.

5. Bargain Shop by Store, not Item

Chasing a coupon or item offer may seem like the smart option for a savvy shopper. But the truth is, you should branch out to other grocery stores to ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. The local small-box store may not offer the discounts and subsidies of the big box store nearby.

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6. Check Out Grocery iQ

Grocery iQ is a great application for individuals who are trying to formulate a grocery list. Through the use of barcode scanning and auto-suggest, you can create smart lists in no time. In addition, Grocery iQ is powered by Coupons.com, which means you’ll be connected to some amazing deals with the coupons offered through the Grocery iQ website. Grocery iQ is free to download on the App Store.

7. Make Use of Cellfire

If you find yourself at the grocery store without coupons, a common case when you might find yourself at a grocery store you don’t frequent, Cellfire is a great way to discover coupons for various supermarkets. All delivered and easily uploaded from your phone, you can simply tap and show the coupons to the clerk at checkout and discover instant savings.

8. Share the List with OurGroceries

Chances are, if you live in a multi-person household, you don’t entrust creating a grocery list to simply one person. Everyone has an input one way or another, because everyone will be indulging in the groceries. OurGroceries allows you to create group contributed grocery lists that can be edited, marked off, and shared between the various family members.

9. Shop Smartly with Fooducate

When at the supermarket, you shouldn’t sacrifice healthy eating for a good deal. If you are still on a diet and want to figure out the health benefits and drawbacks of an item in your basket, Fooducate is the application for you. This is all complete with an alphabetized food rating that allows you to quickly know if it’s a no or a go. Fooducate keeps you educated on what you eat.

10. Download Ziplist

Through the use of meal planning, you are able to get what you need for the week or month and head out of the grocery store. Ziplist is the application for task-oriented grocery shopping. In the end, through meal planning, you are able to save money and alleviate food waste. Grocery lists can be named, dated, and shared to stay organized. This is a great way to delegate grocery visits. In addition, Ziplist also get you in touch with weekly grocery deals.

11. Ask for Rain Checks

When an item isn’t available, you can ask for a rain check so you can pick it up once it is available again. However, for many consumers, most items aren’t important enough for them to consider doing this. But you could find yourself leaving free money on the table by forgoing a rain check, especially for a bigger-ticket item on sale. Discounts are often still honored once the item is back in stock.

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12. Shop on Weekdays

You may find that the weekend is a great time to go grocery shopping, a time when you are off work and can get this “chore” out of the way in a relaxing manner. However, you’d be surprised to find that Wednesday is the best day to go grocery shopping. This is the day of the week when produce and fish is freshly restocked and most supermarkets offer deals.

13. Bring Your Calculator

Having your calculator on hand is one of the best tips on this list. In addition to calculating combined deals between those of the store and those of your coupon, a calculator can truly tell if you will fare better buying in bulk or individually. Many supermarkets bet on their customers not calculating and doing price comparisons, so you may find a price loophole.

14. Look for Clearance Stock

Grocery stores have clearance sections and racks that feature foods that are near their expiration date. While this may not be the place to go for foods you won’t readily make use of, it is a great way to save on that night’s meal or small snacks for the week. With expiration dates within a week or two of being on the clearance rack, this is a great way to save on food that will be consumed quickly.

15. Discover Recipe Alternatives

Certain recipes online are created with the partnership of sponsors. Or they may put taste first before cost. However, you don’t have to fall into their trap by spending more than you should. If a recipe calls for a certain, specific brand, unless it is the only brand that offers that type of food, you’ll be perfectly fine going with the brand that offers the best deal rather than the one the recipe calls for. Additionally, if a recipe calls for an ingredient that notoriously expensive, like saffron, look into comparable substitutes, like turmeric.

16. Discover the Art of Sampling

Sampling is more than just free food. It is in fact an art form. For the supermarket, it’s are a great way to get individuals to spend more on items they may not have considered purchasing before. However, as a consumer you can utilize sampling in many ways.

First off, to prevent impulse purchasing, seek out samples straightaway if you are entering a supermarket hungry. This allows you to shop with your grocery list and not your stomach. Secondly, sampling is a great way to know if an item you have been considering is truly good or not, preventing you from wasting money. Lastly, you don’t have to just go to Costco for the samples. Trader Joe’s has a policy of allowing any customer to sample an item in the store before making a purchase.

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17. Shop by Season

Consumers, especially in the Western world, seem to ignore that some foods do in fact have seasons. With a lot of out of season produce being shipped in, you’ll find these items to be more expensive to offset shipping and transport costs. To save money while possibly discovering new fruit, shop for only in-season items. Above, is a chart of some commonly purchased produce and their respective seasons.

18. Check out “The Whole Deal”

Whole Foods Market is seen by some individuals as an expensive option for grocery shopping. However, the myriad of healthy and organic options makes it irresistible. In addition, the many deals they offer show that you are missing out on a great grocery resource. The Whole Deal is a coupon, deals, and money saving resource from Whole Foods Market that allows you to not break the bank when shopping at their supermarket.

19. Understand Grocery Store Geography

If you pay attention carefully, you’ll notice that almost all grocery stores are organized the same exact way. This is all based on psychology to get customers to spend more in stores. To save money, it is up to you to defy these money-draining tricks that use a combination of the customer’s height, product colors, and the assumption that customers are prone to impulse purchasing.

First off, when forming your grocery list, make necessary purchases (milk, bread, etc) the first things on your list. When you enter the grocery store, dart straight to the back of the store. By doing this, you are ignoring the unnecessary, money wasting, and snacking options commonly placed at the front of the store. When looking for healthy or inexpensive options in aisles, look down. Don’t look forward or up — that’s where unhealthy and expensive options are typically found. Also remember that the freshest produce is found at the back of the row or rack they are held in. To sell older produce faster, they are usually put up front. This is the same for eggs as well.

20. Utilize Markets and Ethnic Groceries

Big box stores are notorious for offering more opportunities to save money through a combination of accepting coupons, store rewards, and store discounts. However, for some staple foods, such as rice, noodles, certain spices and teas, you’ll find that you’ll save more by purchasing from ethnic food stores rather than big name stores. The selection may also be grander and some brands may even be more flavorful than those you’re accustomed to.

21. Take Inventory of your Stockpile

Before you go shopping, take a look at what you already have in your pantry. Performing a weekly clean out and inventory of your stock of food will not only prevent you from purchasing unnecessary duplicates. You’ll also find that doing this spot check can allow you to know when some key ingredients are close to expiration. You’ll be forced to either include them in the dish or go out and replace them now before you find yourself in need of it.

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22. Discover Healthier Snacking

Spending out of your budget for chips and cookies is not only unhealthy, it can result in a waste of money too. Who knew that eating healthy can actually save you money? If you make use of fruits and nuts for healthy snacks, you’ll be paying less because these are versatile foods. Unlike chips, which don’t find themselves in dishes, you can use fruit for breakfast, as a topping on oatmeal, and nuts can be used as a crunchy topping on salad. Drizzle chocolate over strawberries and your leftover snack from yesterday is now today’s dessert after dinner.

23. Understand Your Credit Card Rewards

If you are shopping around for a credit card that will work for you, or if you are looking for ways in which your current card can help you out at the supermarket, look into their current rewards and cash backs that they offer. With my American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, I get 6% back each statement cycle from supermarkets (up to $6000 a year, followed by 1% after that $6000 limit is met). However, this is only for a select number of supermarkets, including:

  • Gristedes
  • Foodtown
  • Pathmark
  • Shoprite
  • Stop and Shop
  • Vons
  • Whole Foods
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Online supermarkets such as FreshDirect

Ensure that you know the places where you’ll get rewards for your card. This can be the best money-saving tactic out there. $9 back on $150 worth of groceries is amazing!

24. Time is Money

Saving money can be a bit of a chore for some individuals. However, there comes a time when you should value time over money when hunting for a deal. While you shouldn’t forgo driving the extra mile (or five) to save money, you should ensure that you make use of good planning to prevent unnecessary trips out of your way. If a coupon expires in two or three weeks, wait until you get to that side of town before making use of the coupon instead of going out of your way for one item. While you may spend $0.50 or $0.60 more on something, you’re saving more than that in gas money.

25. Expand Your Organic Knowledge

Buying organic is all the rage nowadays. However, along with being seen as healthier and cleaner, organic is between 20% and 50% more expensive than it’s non-organic equivalent. While it is proven that buying organic is a good choice, you can save money by selectively purchasing organic. The foods that are most likely to be treated with unhealthy pesticides are those you should look to replace with organic alternatives, including:

  •  Apples
  •  Celery
  •  Cucumbers
  •  Grapes
  •  Peaches
  •  Potatoes
  •  Peppers (Hot and Sweet)
  •  Spinach
  •  Blueberries
  •  Tomatoes
  •  Snap Peas
  •  Oranges

You should also ensure that any items that include these ingredients (salsa, fruit salads, prepared salads, etc) are organic as well.

Featured photo credit: Jezebel via i.kinja-img.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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