How to Save at the Supermarket
Gas and food prices are rising, electricity and heating adds to the costs and
there is no end in sight. Most families have set incomes, which they use to pay
fixed expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, or car payments. With the
cost of energy and credit rising every year something has to give. If it’s a choice
between spending less on energy or groceries, many families are realizing they
have to cut back at the supermarket. This is why it's important to learn how to save at the supermarket.
If using your car less (i.e. to get to work) is not an alternative, it’s time to become
serious about savings at the supermarket. Clipping a few supermarket coupons isn’t going
to make that much of a difference, you need a comprehensive game plan that
includes several savings strategies.
First and most important way to save is – store sales. The number one cardinal
rule to become a super-saver is to NEVER buy unless it is on sale. By buying
what is on sale and eating what is on sale you will save money; it’s that easy.
Plan your meals around the best sales available. Shopping only sales can easily
reduce your grocery bill by 20-25% or more. Buy-one-get-one sales (BOGOS)
can be great! How do you turn those savings into money? Not with a quick
look at the circular when you enter the store! It takes study and planning which
translates into time, time that you use to make a list of real bargains. This is
where you begin.
So how do you know if it is a real bargain? Have you ever wondered if grocery
stores inflate prices on groceries so they can later mark them down just a little
and pass them off as being "ON SALE"? They do and it is done on a regular
basis. They're still selling these items at inflated prices, but if they tell you that
they normally sell for even more, you're more likely to buy them anyway and
actually buy more. For example, if bananas are on sale for $0.89/pound, and
you see that they're marked down from $1.09/pound, is that a good deal? Maybe,
but compared to what? The inflated price of $1.09/pound?
How can you tell what's a good price, and what isn't? You won’t know unless
you know the lowest the price has been in the past or what the average retail
price is for each item.
You could keep track of prices with a “pricebook” and keep track of prices
yourself. After about six to nine or more months of tracking you would be able
to tell that $0.89/pound is still about 25 cents higher than the best price of $0.64/
pound, and that bananas usually go on sale in the summer. That is a lot of price
tracking to do but if you stuck to it you would found out that you have been ripped
off, while thinking you were getting a bargain.
The pricebook has been around for years, and people have been saving money
but if you haven't used a pricebook before, it's a little overwhelming. The other
thing that makes tracking somewhat difficult for the average person is that the
manufacturers modify sizes. So you have to be careful when tracking an item like a half gallon of ice cream. Half gallons still exist but fewer retailers carry 64oz
containers and people easily think that the 56oz container is the same and the
size has shrunk yet again to 48oz. So you have to track by unit measure.
The next rule is that you absolutely have to expand your sales opportunities
by “cherry picking” the very best buys at two, or better three supermarkets.
There are no real rewards for store loyalty. A trip to a competing store will
always pay for itself if you are prepared. Excuses, like it requires more gas don’t
cut it. If your cherry-picking route is less than 10 miles, your extra savings will
far exceed the cost of that gas, And it is not a time issue as well because if you
are like the average American your family is making two and a half trips to the
supermarket every week. Planning your visits will reduce the number of trips and
focus your purchases which will always add up to savings.
Stock and Save at the Supermarket
The third important sales strategy is to stock up on the best bargains. Don’t buy
just one, buy six. If you have the space buy a dozen. View this as an investment
in groceries. It is an investment that is easy to understand, be confident and in control. Investing in groceries is different from other investments because
you don’t have to sell in order to make the profit. All you have to do is eat it or
use it. If you invest $10 a week in your great buys it won’t be long until you are
realizing “profits” you can use to pay your bills.
Each time you use an item from your grocery stockpile, your profit is your
savings; the difference between what you actually paid (your bargain) and what
you would have paid that week. Example you purchase 3 bags of New England
Coffee on sale at 3 for $10 ($3.34 each) you use a bag when the sale is over
and the regular price is $5.69 and your profit is $5.69 less the sale price of $3.34,
$2.35. Your $10 investment in coffee returns a profit of $7.05 a whopping 70.5%
Your grocery stockpile is also your strategic reserve. When unexpected company
arrives, feed them from your reserve. A blizzard or hurricane coming, you are in
good shape to weather the storm.
Coupons can add to your savings only if they are for something you would
normally buy or something you would like to try. Keeping track of coupons is a
chore that can pay dividends but only when they are combined with real sale or
Without the proper tool all this planning will be worthless without documentation.
Your shopping list is the key to capturing the sales and serves as your checklist
for staying on track for the savings you have planned for. The more detail you
can add to your list the better. You need to now brands, sizes, quantities and
limitations for the items that you are seeking to buy and this information needs to
be documented in an easy to read format that is readily available.
There are other tips that can add to your savings but putting the above tips
together will lead to cutting your grocery bill by one third or more. If you do the
arithmetic you can see a savings of $2,000 a year or more for a family of four.
That is real money that can be used for all sorts of things, including investing. So
if you need help in doing the work consider an online professionally researched
sales tracker, coupon matching, list maker that will do this all for you. These
services cost less than $100 for a full year’s of service and should be viewed as
an investment tool with a huge payback that you will see each time you go to the
Be sure to check your Stop n Shop circular*, Shaws circular, and Market Basket circular to help find the best deals at your supermarket!