Don’t go Shopping Without Me

With the increase of cost of living and budget cutbacks, loss of jobs and hardships a good way to savings and putting money back in our bank accounts is to avoid any type of useless temptations and waste. By learning the tricks of consumer marketing, cutting down on impulse buying and shopping frugally can really make a big difference at the end of the month with our household budget. Annually it amounts to huge saving of our hard-earned cash, enough to afford a small vacation.  With food costs soaring annually and general cost of living going up exponentially, this is an area were wastage is at its highest in a household. Many people are looking for different ways to saving money in areas where they never had to before. Seniors and the unemployed with limited income find it even harder and their quality of life is compromised.
If you have a family to feed the costs of living is even higher. Monthly groceries can cost anywhere from $ 600 to $1000. a month. If you are a busy working family you probably spend much more on take-out and prepared meals because of your busy schedule and lack of time. To add insult to injury, we find the rise of popularity of places like Costco, where buying in bulk has become a trend, but this also can duplicate your grocery costs to almost double. We all want to keep up with the Joneses, so we run with the flock, when we hear of a good deal we want in on it. But here is where the old adage of “What is good for the goose is good for the gander”, does not apply.

The drawback of buying in bulk is it ties up our money for more important expenditures. For the small families it leads to lots of wastage and un-necessary impulse buying. For a person who lives alone or a family that comprises of one or two people, Costco can be a very expensive alternative and there is little or no savings to be had, especially if you are locking in your money on pantry items that sit there for a year. As you can surmise I am not a big fan of the Costco generation. Costco, raises my stress levels from the on-set of finding a parking spot to check out’s extremely long line ups. This year a regular membership card will cost you $60.00 Canadian, giving you ONLY the privilege to shop there. There are no perks, no points card accepted and no price matching. The only good thing is some items are exclusive to Costco and are of better quality than other generic brands. But if you look hard enough you can find the same products elsewhere and for a better value for the price point.

Grocery stores like Costco are not the only ones that tempt you into buying more than you need, most fine grocers and supermarkets in this capitalistic society run marketing schemes that tempt the shoppers from purchasing more than what they really need. Here are some tricks of the trade.
The bakery section is always placed at the front of the store, to entice you. The smell of baked goods waft through the store upon entering. During peak shopping hours, you can always smell the aromas of freshly baked breads, doughnuts or sweets in the air. This tempts the senses and you crave that special dessert for your supper and pick up that pie or a bag of doughnuts to have with your coffee at the end of your meal, even though you just came in to pick up milk and bread.Store design, eye appeal, layout and color schemes all play a role in getting you to buy more. Red is their favorite color for sale tags. The fish section always contains blue to remind you of the ocean, your last tropical vacation and the delicious fresh seafood you ate by the seaside.

My proverbial favorite is the tasting stations with brand ambassadors cooking the simplest but tastiest meats with a just a tabletop grill. Guaranteed you will buy the $10.00 worth of sausages, even though it’s not in your meal plan this week, aside your family hates them. But they tasted so good this evening after work when you walked into the store and sampled them.The cheese counter does the same with their sampling of expensive specialty cheeses of the week. Enticing you to purchase the latest Quebec cheese from telle farm in the boonies, who won the coveted Cassius awards for 2018. The purchase of the cheese will put you back another $ 8.00.

Many expensive items like flowers, plants and prepared meals and sushi are also mixed in at the front of the store along with the fruits, vegetables and bread. Even if you need just milk and toast bread, you will need to navigate the aisles to get to the back of the store. You will have to crisscross through the bakery and cheese sections. I guarantee you will be enticed, even if just to look. The checkout line is just as tempting with magazines, chocolate, and drinks, another two points for the store. Store Design, eye appeal, layout and music all play roll in selling groceries. Learning how a store sells can save you money if you know how to shop wisely. Most expensive items are usually placed at eye level, kid’s cereals are placed at kids arm level. The bakery is usually placed in front of the store so its tempting aromas waft through air. Prepared foods and cut up fruits is another means to have you spend more money, as usually you are paying double and triple for cut up fruits and salads for a fraction of the portions. Prepared foods are notorious especially if you are shopping after a hard day’s work, as it is a definite trigger for the hungry shopper. Guaranteed you will pick up that roast chicken for $ 10.00 plus because you are too tired to cook, plus all the accoutrements like potatoes and salads and gravy “And don’t Forget your Baguette”

Brightly colored signs hang from shelf units to get your attention, but items are not on sale, you will only get more points if you buy more items. What really irks me these days are the 2 for the price of whatever sales. Now they have increased this marketing gimmick to 3/ for the price of more. So, you end up buying in bulk, when you don’t really need to. Thus, increasing your grocery bill by triple. All you needed was a pint of milk.
Lately these grocers have also implemented free items if you spend more than $70.00. Another marketing scheme, you will pack in an extra $5-10 to get the free wine glasses and gas. The savvy shopper can work through the maze of marketing ploys with some planning. These are my tips for saving money when it comes to grocery shopping.

The basics are as follows:
Plan Ahead: Create a menu for the week. Factor in lunches, breakfasts, snacks and leftovers and anything else you will need and stick by it. Also include in your budget lunches out and take out dinners. Allow 1 day a week to eating out. Don’t buy more than needed.

Make a List: Don’t go shopping without a list. It is a known fact that if you go shopping without a list you will buy anything and everything and go over budget. This list should be based on your menu for the week and the flyer specials. Before you make your list make sure to check your fridge and pantry to make sure you are not duplicating items. Stick to your list as much as possible.

Use Coupons & Price Match: If you receive coupons in the mail or in flyers, use these to save more money. If your store does not have the weekly specials on a certain item, ask if they price match. No need to drive to a different grocery stores to pick items on sale. Grocers will usually match sales so you can buy them directly there. Just bring your coupons from other retailers. Maxi, Super C and IGA all do this. Also, a must to get it a points card wherever you can, like Optimum -PC Plus, Air miles or Aeroplan. You can use these to rack up point and turn them into dollars. This will allow you cash money to be used against purchases and discounts in the future. Some grocers also have their daily extra perks like free items. Take advantage.
When dining out, some restaurants also offer discounts and coupons as well. Check out websites like Groupon to check for deals. If your busy lifestyle dictates that you allow you or your family one night of the week for eating out, incorporate this into your savings plan and keep an eye out for those coupons and save them. Some local fast food restaurants send coupons in the mail and fancier restaurants offer reduced prices for lunch and late dinners. Use these to obtain two for one meals and specials.

Shop on a full stomach: Never go to grocery store when you are hungry or tired. It is proven fact that you will buy more and go over budget. If you are tired and don’t feel like cooking, you will pick up that extra rotisserie chicken, with potatoes, coleslaw and gravy and let’s not forget, the fresh bread and dessert. If you shop go alone, kids will make you buy that extra box of sugary cereal or the chocolate Twinkies. If shopping with a friend at Costco, bulk items can be split and this could be worth money in savings, just beware many items come in three or some items will need to be split in two, this can prove difficult to do, time consuming and messy.

Read the shelves: Read and compare shelf pricing and quantity. Sometimes bigger does not mean better, especially if it will go bad or go to waste. Look at the original price items and know the cost before you shop. Some items are really not a deal. Also check the end of the aisles and bins in center of store for deals. Eye level products tend to be more expensive. Use your phone calculator if need be and take your time.

Check out: Make sure what is scanned is what sale price is. Sometimes things can go wrong and always give your coupons ahead of time. Do not forget your recycled bags as you are now charged for plastic ones and use your courtesy cards to rack up more points. Also make sure all your groceries end up in your bags.

Track your savings: If you don’t believe me. Start a penny jar. When you save on an item, place the cash you saved in the jar. Tally it monthly or annually and see what it gives. You will be surprised.

Remember: Don’t buy in bulk unless you know you will eat it all by end of the week. Weekly specials come around WEEKLY and you will maybe find a better deal the following week. If you are alone and time allows shop small quantities every couple of days. This limits wastage and allows for a better more interesting meal plan.