How to outfox the grocery store, and save

Jun 26, 2013 | Personal

Our efforts to save $$$ on groceries — from racking up points on our loyalty cards to clipping coupons — may be futile, unless we know the tactics employed by retailers to get us to part with our hard-earned dollars.
When we’re aware of these tactics, we respond accordingly and employ our own “tricks” to outsmart the supermarket scientists.
It’s all in the timing.
Fight the store’s strategy with strategy. If you’re like most people, you have one big shopping day each week and a number of small trips. Instead, schedule one big trip to coincide with the best sales. Life happens, so if you must make a last-minute stop, only buy what you can carry or stick in a small basket, so you’re not tempted to make impulse buys, account for 60 to 70 percent of all purchases.
Develop a detailed shopping list, and stick to it. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s no coincidence that stores place the most common staples — bread, milk, eggs — so far apart from each other. You have to pass many other tantalizing items (can we say, potato chips and cookies?) on your way to these necessities.
Buy on a full stomach.
Running on “E” results in an empty wallet. Studies show that hungry shoppers spend more and splurge on less healthy items. Plan your big shopping day post-meals, when you’re less likely to find many foods look delicious because you’re ravenous.
Look up or down.
The next time you’re at the store, compare the costs of foods at your eye level to those items just above or below the shelf in front of you. Brands at eye-level tend to cost more than those that either require you to stand on your tiptoes or crouch to see them. Products didn’t end up that way by accident. While annoying, take the time to look up or down to secure the best deals on the exact same type of product right in front of your face.
Bulk isn’t always best.
Getting more for your money by purchasing that king-sized ketchup or colossal cereal box? Think again. Determine how much you’re spending per ounce or unit. Products are measured differently (and, in some cases, the same types of items employ different units to add to the confusion!), so bring your calculator. Plus, if you go with the better value, smaller jar or box, you won’t be stuck with a tub of peanut butter your family would never finish before the expiration date!
Be checkout savvy.
Distracted shoppers spend more. In another genius move, TV monitors and a number of items you don’t need (small toys, candy, and tabloid magazines) are placed at checkout, which can all contribute to your inadvertently spending more than intended.
You don’t have to clip coupons to the extreme to save on your monthly grocery bill. Smart shopping can keep lots of extra cash in your wallet!