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14 Tips to Save You Money When Food Shopping on a Budget

July 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 162

14 Shopping Tips

I watched in amazement the other day as a bachelor friend of mine swept products off the shelf into his basket. "The eggs over here are R4 cheaper" I told him. He looked at me for a second, then shrugged. "Not important" he commented. "Andy" I said "eggs are eggs, there is no difference between these brands, why not save the bucks?"

I'm not saying only buy the cheapest brand, rather be a wise consumer and weigh cost and quality. We would all like to just buy anything we want, but most of us have a shoestring budget.

When I started "comparative shopping" a few years ago, I had a notebook and calculator and a load of shopping knowledge gained through trips to the Supermarket with my mother. After a while I got to know my prices and the brands. Now I no longer need the notebook and calculator. It is all about being an alert consumer.

Tip1:The best and worst advice you can get is "don't shop while hungry". How many of us get the time to carefully plan the shopping trip. If you are an impulsive buyer, this is good advice, but in my opinion, the best meals are planned when you are hungry. If you KNOW what you are going to make, you don't buy stuff that sits on the shelf waiting for a meal. Self control is easier to achieve then a having a meal every time you want to go shop

Tip 2:Know your prices. Watch for specials. If you know your approximate prices then you will know if the "special today" sticker is really special. Supermarkets run great specials, but are not above a bit of creative lying. If you know your prices you are better able to see when the prices of products change. When products first hit the shelves manufacturers may keep prices low to attract customers and establish market share. After that they put them up again. Check against the prices of other brands to see if you are being fooled, or if the product is in the throes of a general price increase.

Tip 3:Know your brand. This is all about quality. Not all tea is equal, and we all have different taste. Brand loyalty has little weight with the wise shopper, but there is no point in buying the cheaper cheese if nobody at home eats it. Store brands are a good compromise as they are often repackaging of those brands that sell the best. There can be significant difference between the price on your usual brand and the Store brand ON THE NEXT SHELF!.

Tip 4:Avoid impulse buying. Stores are laid out to make you buy. This kind of impulse buying is often driven by clever marketing.

Tip 5:Beware of eye level shopping. Your eye falls easier on products at eye level and most of us scan right to left (like we read). Supermarkets know this and put the more expensive brands at eye level on the right. Sweets will tend to be at kids eye level. Be aware of eye level shopping. Study the shelf and the products BEFORE you reach out.

Tip 6:Watch out for products that you "suddenly" notice. For instance, placing items at aisle-ends where you are more likely to see them is a marketing trick called "salience". Salience is when something stands out from the background because of its placement, colour or size. In this case, the Supermarket gets a good price by volume buying and relies on salience to move the produce fast. If you know your prices you will know if aisle-end items are good value or not. More usually, luxury items end up at aisle-ends where you are more likely to see them.

Tip 7:Don't buy the packaging. Packaging is another way to achieve salience. The colour and size of packaging are used to attract attention or create the impression of volume. The colour of some packaging is even designed to "represent" the food inside. Frozen goods have windows or pictures so you can "see" the product, and I think you would hesitate to buy frozen meat in a grey package.

Tip 8:Be an alert shopper. Supermarkets use many tricks to make you buy. Long aisles force you to traverse many different products. Placing items you buy daily, like milk and bread, at opposite ends of the shop, forces you to walk the whole shop. Sweets at the tills catch you when you are in the queue and are more relaxed since the shopping task is done.

Tip 9:Make a list and stick to it. Not obsessively, but buy the list items first and make a mental running total. I can usually tell within a few bucks how much is in my basket.

Tip 10:Enter the shop knowing what you want, AND how much you want to spend. If you have an idea of what you want to pay for beef mince, and it is more expensive, you will have less mental conflict about buying beef sausage instead. Shopping is really an exercise in cognitive dissonance. This is just a clever word for the feeling that you get when confronted by the difference between what you want and what you can get. In this case marketers want to bring you into a conflict between their product and your pre-determined shopping strategy for that item (brand loyalty, price, need). Items are presented to make them more desirable than your established buying habit, leading to an impulse buy to solve the conflict. An alert shopper weighs each buying decision.

Tip 11:Learn to shop by weight. Convert the price of the item to a kilogram price to compare it with other items of the same kind. Some Supermarkets helpfully print this information on the price tags. If not, use the calculator on your cellphone to do the calculation. A small tin of jam may be 5.99, but it is only 375g. Divide 5.99 by 3.75 to get a price per 100g and you can compare it to the 800g tin.

Tip 12:Buy in bulk if it makes sense and is in your budget. By making kilogram comparisons you may find that buying in bulk saves you money. A 2kg of sugar may cost less than 2 x 1kg's. This is only true if you are not going to increase your consumption of a product because it is in the fridge! My kids will eat 500g of cheese as fast as they eat 1kg.

Tip 13:Focus on price and quality. Buy your list, make some calculation of the cost and THEN go off and buy the luxury stuff or special treats. Buy intentionally and thoughtfully.

Tip 14:Don't relax yet when you get to the cashier. Firstly because of the snack foods and magazines, but also because you need to make sure the cashier rings up your purchases correctly. No one is perfect, she makes mistakes, the item can be incorrectly entered into the system or the price ticket can be incorrect. In the latter case the Supermarket policy is to give you the ticket price - but you have to insist! Remember to give the cashier any coupons you may have picked up along the way.

Conclusion I may have made it sound like the Supermarkets are out to trick you. In reality it is all about marketing, and marketing is simply the well researched science of what makes people buy.

Change your buying patterns, and the marketing pattern will change. This the power of the alert consumer. You need to become a comparative shopper. Buy with consideration to quality, price and personal taste and comparing your options. Be aware of clever marketing and don't fall victim to impulse buying decisions. Do this and you can save 10-15% on each shopping trip.

For more free tips, info and advice that saves you money, visit us at GetValue

Source: EzineArticles
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