With food prices skyrocketing over the past several years it has become ever more important to watch what you buy at the grocery store. Reports show that pricing has leveled out, but it’s still a painful experience for many homes. Add to that, stores love to use tricks to get us to spend more, but it’s possible to outsmart them. Here are 12 things to avoid putting in your cart so you can maximize your savings.
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Expensive Items at Eye Level
There is a planned psychology most stores implement. They put the expensive, and popular, items at eye level.
This keeps the item plainly in our view, and more tempting to us and our children. Instead of opting to only look at brands at your eye level, look several shelves down. That’s where you can find the more affordable options.
Pre-cut fruits or vegetables can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time. Unfortunately, you must pay significantly extra to have someone do the work for you.
Furthermore, you’ll get much less than simply buying the item whole.
Grocery stores like to offer convenience. It’s helpful when you’re in a pinch to buy that kitchen utensil with your groceries. In most cases you can find the item for cheaper at Walmart, Target, or Amazon, not to mention a better selection.
Everyone needs toilet paper. However, you’ll face sticker shock when buying it at the grocery store. Opt for a warehouse club, like Costco or Sam’s Club, or use Amazon Subscribe & Save.
You’ll save more and won’t get chafed in the process.
Certain Organic Produce
Organic produce is important to eat to avoid dangerous pesticides. You don’t always need to purchase organic though.
If the produce has a peel, you may be safe to opt for the non-organic version. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a clean list of items that are safe to eat non-organic. Consult it and save yourself some cash.
Diapers are another convenience grocery stores offer. Like kitchen utensils, they’re more expensive.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get up to 20 percent off a diaper subscription through Subscribe & Save. You can also watch for deals at your local drugstore or Walmart to increase savings.
Many grocery stores have floral departments which also sell supplies like balloons and streamers. The convenience is nice, but it comes at a cost.
If you need items for your next party, choose a dollar store instead. You can often get exactly what you need, but at a fraction of the cost.
Cosmetics are another convenience item sold by grocery stores. You’re likely getting fleeced for that convenience. Opt for Walmart, Target, or a local drugstore to get a better selection for less.
Fido deserves quality dog food, but you don’t need to overpay for it. Rather than purchasing pet food at the grocery store, Target, Walmart, and Chewy are all better choices. You may even want to look at Amazon to find good deals.
Salad is a terrific addition to a meal, or can stand on its own. Don’t overpay for a bagged or prepared salad as it can cost you some serious green.
You don’t know the age of the ingredients either. Buy the ingredients on your own and save a few bucks.
Larger Shopping Carts
Have you noticed that the shopping cart at your favorite store is getting larger over time? It’s not just you as studies show they’re getting bigger.
This is done for one thing – to get you to feel like you haven’t bought enough and to fill it with more items. If you feel like there’s only a few items you need, select a handheld basket to limit any impulse purchases.
Like many other items, grocery stores just don’t have the variety to offer. Over-the-counter medication is another example, and you’ll pay for that lack of variety.
Target or your local drugstore are much better choices. Don’t overlook Amazon either to get a good deal.
How to Save Money on Groceries
It can be a challenge to keep grocery costs under control. With a little planning you can cut costs and not sacrifice what you want.
15 Best Coupon Apps to Save Money
Saving money at the store is as simple as using your phone. Better yet, you can redeem savings for free PayPal money or gift cards. That’s a win-win.
13 Things You Should Never Buy at Walmart
Love them or hate them, Walmart is a good choice to save money. However, not everything is a good deal. Here are 13 things you should never purchase at the store.
Get Cash Back on Your Gas Purchases
It’s painful to fill up at the pump. Thankfully, there’s an app for that! With Upside you can get rebates on your gas purchases that you can redeem for cash.
Costco vs Sam’s Club: Which is Better?
Both warehouse clubs offer money-saving deals, but they vary a lot in what they offer. Choosing the right one can increase your savings.
I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
My goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to become financially independent with personally-tested financial tools and money-saving solutions.