With summer officially over and the holidays just around an autumnal corner, now is the time to set a shopping budget and stick to it. If we’re being honest, though, it’s never a bad time to start shopping smart. Besides hitting up the obvious budget stores such as Grocery Outlet and the 99 Cent Store, we have some tips on how to get the most out of your shopping trips. To fill up your shopping cart without emptying your wallet, consider implementing the following practices:
No. 1: Maintain an up-to-date shopping list. Before even entering the grocery store, you ought to have a list of needed items based on the inventory of supplies you already have on-hand at home. This strategy will help you avoid double-purchasing items you don’t need and ultimately, overspending and wasting perishable products. These days, there is a treasure trove of shopping list apps that you can download onto your smartphone to help you and yours keep a running inventory. For added efficiency, choose an app that has a sharing feature. This will enable other household members to update the list if they use the last bit of a certain item that now needs to be replaced.
No. 2: Find ways to cut prices via stores’ resources. This can be accomplished by reading store ads before shopping, as well as cutting coupons from the local newspaper and printing coupons online. Though it might take extra time, your wallet will thank you. You can also compare prices at online shopping sites. Keep an eye out for sites with subscription services that deliver items on a regular schedule with a steep discount. For even extra saving (and brownie points), consider planning your week’s meals around items that are on sale at the time.
No. 3: Stay on the lookout for value. There is more to smart shopping than simply purchasing the cheapest product(s). Be sure to do your research on brand names that will give you the best value. When hitting the aisles with your grocery cart, you will want to have a clear idea of the items that will give you the best performance and quality (or most quantity) for the lowest price.
No. 4: Determine when bulk spending will save you money in the long-run. Up front, buying items in bulk will have a higher cost but yield financial savings over time. Buying in quantity has the potential to save you one or two trips to the store while also decreasing the overall cost of each separate item. To help offset the hefty price tag for bulk items, make a calendar (or task board) that will help you stagger bulk purchases.
No. 5: Steer clear of impulse purchases. When shopping with one or more people (albeit friends or family), it becomes easier to let your guard down as clearance or sale items start to pervade your grocery cart. Though these cheaper items don’t seem to cost you very much initially, they definitely add up. Along with a thorough list, your shopping trip should include family members or pals that will hold you (and themselves) accountable to following the list. Upon making it to the register without any extraneous purchases, each person on the shopping trip can reward themselves with a treat or candy of their choice in the checkout aisle.
Blog by Melissa McElhose, STARKART staff writer