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Budget Shopping for Food
The Refrigerator is Empty!
Perhaps a better subtitle would be, "My Wallet is EMPTY!". If you are like so many of us who just can't understand why food costs so much these days, more and more of our income is going towards just feeding our faces. Yes we are all victims of the current early 21st century economy and jobs are really bad right now. But the good news is that there are tricks you can do to drastically reduce your food bill at the supermarket.
Let's talk about the pitfalls of how you shop at the supermarket. Find shopping tricks to give you the most food in your shopping bags.
Usually your supermarket shopping experience is cheerful with wonderful fragrances wafting past your nose. Bright cheerful signs with delicious pictures of food just cascading across your vision. Don't forget the friendly staff cooking up tasty morsels for you to gobble up.
You are in a marketing firestorm of temptation, so how strong are you in these conditions? Did the fudge brownie on the right get to you yet? It is tough to be indifferent when your senses are being inundated with influence. Hang in there while we take a look at the tricks used on us to make us buy everything in sight. Then we can look at the more sensible ways to purchasing our food.
Top of the list items supermarkets use to influence your buying decisions. Check them out.
- Go for the nose! Did you know many popcorn vendors vent the cooker out where your nose can't miss it.
- Go for the eyes! Did the fudge brownie above get you, need we say more.
- Go for the impulse! Influential name brands, candy bars, deli counters all urge you to buy.
- Go for the wallet! Discounted, on sale, coupons and marked down, but what you see is not always what you get.
- Go for the children! There is a reason the candy is down low on the shelves,
As we move on remember that any commercial operation is tuned to extract as much money from your wallet as possible. They use professionals in marketing techniques to accomplish this very complex task, now you can politely push back a bit and find the absolute best value for your dollar. At the same time you can send a message to the marketing folks that you mean business too.
Consumer Buying Tips
Now let's tip the spending balance into your favor. By using the supermarket marketing tricks in your favor you can save lots of money while shopping for all your favorite treats.
First watch out for commonly used slight of hand methods that you might not notice. Then avoid the tricks and choose the sensible alternative.
- High end coupons used on name brands might not be less expensive than a store brand product. A large $2 or $3 coupon on a name brand might still be more expensive than the store or generic brand.
- Use the Unit Pricing sticker, these are your friends. Always compare similar items against the unit pricing. Just make sure that the the units are compatible, ounces vs ounces or sheets vs sheets. On one occasion a store made the font so small that most people couldn't read the Unit Price!
- Check the weight or quantity against the competing items. Boxes or containers do not have to reflect by appearance how much is in them. Have you seen huge cereal boxes that are only half full? How about huge candy packages with two small candies inside.
- Meat sales are really tricky, prime pieces of meat packaged on top of lesser quality meat. Does the color of the hamburger match the percentage of fat advertised? Is the expire date still valid?
- Generic Brands offer large discounts over the name brands. Most generic brands today are just as good and tasty as the name brands, you must control your bias over assuming that generics are somehow inferior.
- Buy one get one free is just another way to say 50% off of our very high original price. Did you know that most stores allow you to buy just one of those items and still get it at half price. Do you feel obligated to buy 10 items when they advertise 10 for a supposed quantity price? Well don't do it, you can still buy one for 1/10th the advertised price.
- Expiration Dates are your friends as well, but don't get caught paying full price for and old product. Many stores will place expired or close to expired items on a rack at the back of the store. Just be sure that you have a plan to use the item very soon after purchase.
- Deli Ends leftovers are the very ends of the meat and cheese products in the deli. The prices for these items are often less than half of the original prices. Again be prepared to use these items fairly soon after you buy them.
Stay the Course, Eat Frugally.
Once you practice these frugal techniques to your food shopping, the refrigerator will fill up and your wallet won't be empty. You can stay ahead of the game by being careful about how you purchase your food. Want to keep your budget in good working shape? Read about more tips on budgeting at Smart Personal Finances by Don Fairchild.