Monday, September 14, 2009

The Grocery Store War

I don’t enjoy grocery shopping like I used to. I feel like I am at war when I go to the grocery stores. They want to take advantage of me and I want to beat them at their game. It takes some strategy and courage to fight the grocery battle. It would be so nice to go to one store and buy everything, but I am not willing to spend twice the amount of money on groceries as I spend now. I shop around and buy only the best deals at each store and then get my regular items that are absolutely necessary at the cheapest store in town. I prepare my menus around sale items and that is what we eat. We have a large variety of food choices because I have stocked up on sale items regularly. Grocery stores don’t appreciate people who shop like me. They are used to people buying all their groceries at one place, not just the sale items. If everyone shopped the way I do, grocery stores would go out of business. I guess I can’t blame them when they don’t treat me in a friendly way.

My husband works hard for the money he earns, so I feel like I have the responsibility to make that money go as far as possible.

  1. DON’T BE LOYAL TO ONE STORE: Grocery chain stores want your money. They don’t care about you personally. Why should you pay double for something when you don’t need to?
  2. KNOW YOUR PRICES: You need to know what a good price is for what you buy. A good way to do this is to make a price book with a list of the prices of each item from each of the main stores in your area. When you have accurate information, you won’t get taken advantage of by sales that really don’t save you much money. Some grocery stores raise their prices when they do a “Buy one, get one Free” sale. Many times you pay more than you would during a regular week. By knowing your prices, you won’t get taken.
  3. INVEST IN A LOCAL PAPER: Look at the ads and find things that you purchase on a regular basis that are a good price. Grocery stores usually have a few things that are called “Loss Leaders” which are items that are priced low or even below cost just to get you to come into their store. You need to have self discipline and only buy what is a good sale. I regularly save about 50 percent off my grocery bill. If you start buying the higher priced groceries out of convenience, you have surrendered to the grocery store and they will gladly take your hard earned money.
  4. DON’T GO SHOPPING WITHOUT A DETAILED LIST: This strategy has helped me save money in several ways. Before you go into a grocery store, write down the things that are on sale and how much you plan to buy and write down an estimate about how much it will cost. I can easily tell when I am being overcharged for something, because I know how much I will spend before I go into the grocery store. If you don’t catch a mistake while the clerk is ringing things up, then just walk off a little way and take the time to look at your receipt in detail to catch any mistakes before you leave the grocery store. It is easier to take care of things right away instead of waiting. You may lose the receipt or just forget about getting the price adjustment. You aren’t getting a good deal if you aren’t being charged the correct price. I always use cash and bring as much money as my list says it will cost. This helps keep me from being tempted to buy things that aren’t on my list.
  5. DON’T FEEL GUILTY: You shouldn’t feel guilty about only buying the deals. There are plenty of other people who don’t want to take the time to shop wisely and the store will make plenty of money on them. The store makes the offer hoping they will get you into the store and you will buy more. You can beat them at their own game by only buying things that are a great price.
  6. PLAN EFFICIENT TRIPS: Figure out the shortest way to go to all the places you want to go to. If there are only one or two things on sale at one store, you may choose to skip that store for the week. If you have frozen or refrigerated items, take a cooler in the car so you can keep them cool.
  7. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DRIVE TO DIFFERENT STORES, GO TO WALMART AND MATCH ALL YOUR ADS: Unless things have changed, Walmart makes the claim to match competitors ads. If you choose to do this, then you really need to watch the clerk to make sure it is done correctly or you will be paying for their mistakes. Find a clerk that knows how to do it right and go when they are working. Take your ads with you. You will be able to just go to one store this way, but it will take longer than usual. When I have done this, they match the store brand from another store for their store brand.
  8. GET RAIN CHECKS WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE SALE ITEMS IN STOCK: By getting a rain check, you will still have the opportunity to get the sale item. It is frustrating to drive to a store only to find that they are out of the items they claim to have.

There was a famous song years ago entitled, “You Better Shop Around”. Even though they weren’t talking about grocery stores, there is wisdom in the title of the song. I hate to shop around, but it is worth the extra time it takes to save so much money. The money will add up. The amount of money you spend in gas and the few minutes of extra time it takes are small sacrifices for the substantial savings you will have by doing so. It is definitely worth a try!

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