Some tips to help you save money while shopping.
First appeared in City Press
Grocery shopping can be the pits. You go to buy bread and milk and end up with a bag full of goods at a cost of R300 or more. How does that happen and how can we be more conscious of our habits and stop ourselves from automatically taking things off the shelves?
Saving money isn’t only about giving things up, buying less or tracking your every single cent. Sometimes just being savvy and alert can save you money and allow you to get the most value out of each rand.
Before you next go shopping, consider these 3 tips:
Know your budget
This may be tricky if you don’t usually budget, but you do need to set a spending limit to ensure that you’ll make it through the month. Shopping without knowing your limit can really hurt your finances in the long run.
If you don’t have a budget, look at how much money you can afford on groceries for the month and see how much you have left. This won’t be exact but will give you a starting point of sorting out a spending plan for the month.
Once you’ve allocated an amount for your next shopping trip, try your best to stick to it.
Make a shopping list
Having a shopping list will not only clear your mind and take the “I’m forgetting something” feeling away, it can also speed up your shopping. You can keep a list on your fridge or on your phone and add to whenever you find you need something.
Read through your list before you next head off to the stores and add any extra items you need.
Be like Santa and check your list twice; and stick to it.
Don’t be hangry
Hangry is the emotional state of frustration and irritation when you’re hungry. Don’t go shopping in this state.
You’ll likely buy more than you need, buy junk food and simply take anything off the shelf as quickly as possible. Your poor starving brain cannot deal with the sight of all the food and will be in a “feed me” frenzy.
Consider eating something first before tackling the shopping chore.
Once at the shop’s things should be quite straightforward as you simply need to buy what’s on your list.
However, 3 more tips to consider are:
It sounds obvious, but we often ignore this one. Not only should you price check between brands, but also look at the cost per unit. Bigger is not always better as stores sometimes price the bigger packs at higher per-unit prices.
A 350g pack of something at R16 works out to 0.045c per gram (16 divided by 350). The 1kg (1000g) pack at R55 may seem cheaper simply because we’ve been conditioned to believe that buying in bulk is better. At this price though you could buy 3 of the R16 packs which gives you more, for less.
Also, if you know the prices of your favourite items you’ll quickly spot when stores hike prices at month end or at special holidays. Sometimes waiting a week or two could save you a fair bit of money.
Buy on special and save money
If products that you use are on special and you can store them for a few weeks, then it may well be worth buying a few extra to make use of the special. Fresh produce and items with a short shelf-life may not be worth it though.
Don’t buy items on special simply for the sake of saving money. “Buy two, get one free” specials can be very tempting, but don’t forget about your budget or your shopping list.
Consider joining a loyalty program
Most stores have a loyalty card (points card) of some variety. The savings vary but if you shop at the same store often then it is worth joining their program and using whatever savings are offered to you.
Be aware of the marketing though as they will try to entice you to spend more. You’ll likely receive personalised vouchers and specials that need to be redeemed quickly. Only use these when they make sense.
Simply having a shopping list and sticking to it will make a huge difference to your shopping experience. You need to manage what you buy and not be drawn in by the great marketing and hype that stores create.
They know your weaknesses and so should you.