How to save money when grocery shopping

10 Strategy : How to save money when grocery shopping

If we all don’t know how to save money when grocery shopping for most households, shopping takes up a significant part of the budget. And despite the rising popularity of online shopping and e-commerce, a whopping 80% of Americans still prefer heading over to a physical store to shop. The in-store shopping experience, it seems, holds some allure that is yet to be replaced by convenient trappings of e-commerce.

However, while the shopping experience may be excellent, it often leaves us, against our most rational plans, spending more than we planned. It’s not uncommon for you to dash into a store aiming to pick up a few essentials and end up, about 2 hours later, rolling out a full shopping cart the size of a small dump truck. This effect is most common with big department stores that have a way of displaying a wide variety of goods at prices that seems like a steal.

How to save money when grocery shopping

This psychological trick successfully ambushes the unwary customer as they walk in and lures them into spending far more than they intended. This is just one out of the bag of trick that stores, bars, and restaurants get you to overspend by pushing the right psychological buttons. You burn through your shopping budget like a prairie fire and wonder why, despite your willpower, it’s impossible to save.

The reason why you tend to fall for such insidious manipulation is the human preference for instant gratification. Most people will preferably have a marshmallow now than two in the next hour. However, you must keep an eye on your expenses and stick to a budget. Your financial future depends on this. To arm against the big stores while shopping, you must know all the tricks businesses use to entice you to spend too much on an item or buy more things than you needed.

You must understand their effects on you. When you recognize them, it’s easier for you to resist these commercial assaults on your senses. You’ll appreciate the psychology behind spending and saving. You’ll be able to shop and walk out, most of your money intact, like a champ. When next you go into a store, here are some tips for identifying most tricks up their gilded sleeves and how you can circumvent their effects on you.


1. Use newer bills to save money when grocery shopping

Before you hit the stores, without your credit cards, of course, only carry along, old money. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of consumer research, people prefer newer crispier cash to shabbier, jaded bills. So, they are more inclined to spend the dirtier notes. Participants in the study spent more money when they had old dollar notes than when they had newer ones.

2. Wear high heels to save money when grocery shopping

This one is a bit strange, but it’s actually backed by science. Researchers from the Brigham Young University, observed that when shoppers’ minds are focused on keeping their balance, the tend to choose a mid-range item instead of a costlier or a lower-quality one. They also observed the same effect in participants after they rode on an elevator or after a yoga class. Note that this strategy may not work as well if you’re a man.

How to save money when grocery shopping

3. Stop and pause mindfully to save money when grocery shopping

You may feel a dopamine rush when you see a coveted item at 85% off. And you don’t have to be a shopaholic. Our brains are wired to need instant gratification when faced with alluring merchandise at fantastic prices. We just continue filling up the shopping cart unrestrained.

Amid all that good feeling, take timeout occasionally to stop and question your decisions. Ask yourself,- how do I feel?, do I need this now? Does it fit into my budget? Can I wait? Where will I keep it? After the self-examination, you’ll find out that your mindless rush has somewhat slowed, and you can see the item in a new light. Then only complete the purchase if it’s something you genuinely need.


4. Do not shop with credit cards to save money 

An MIT research published in 2001 in Marketing Letters revealed that shoppers spend up to 100% more when they shop with their credit card instead of cash. Credit cards, when responsibly used, offer you plenty of travel and cash rewards. But when it comes to shopping, credit card use encourages you to overspend and often sabotages your budget. The reason is simple.

It’s easier to spend more with plastic because the pleasure of the purchase is felt instantly rather than the pain of handing over your hard-earned cash, which isn’t evident at the moment. Again, going out with a limited amount of cash forces you to spend only to the limit you can pay for. With a card, your spending limit may not matter that much

How to save money when grocery shopping

5. Avoid becoming friends with the shop staff

It’s human nature to reciprocate kind gestures. The more you joke and laugh with the store staff, the more likely you are to buy more stuff from them. That is why most of them are always eager to help. You won’t want to disappoint such a friendly, helpful person. You can show off your grumpy side. But not too much.

6. Thinks of prices in terms of the hours of work put in

You may not think much about dropping $1000 for the latest iPhone until you reason the number of hours of work you have to put in to earn a thousand bucks. Say you make $20 an hour, upgrading to the latest shiny device will cost you 50 hours of labor and sweat. It’s no longer such an excellent idea, right? When you look at your purchases like an economist, you will see them in a different light and won’t readily part with cash.

7. Listen to music to save money when grocery shopping

Big retailers are adept in the art of turning consumers to spendthrifts. And one of their more insidious tricks is to play slow music. As you unconsciously slow your walking pace to fall in line with soft sounds, you’ll tend to see more products and tend to buy more as well.

You can liberate yourself from this particular subtle manipulation by bringing your own music. Something with a fast tempo delivered through headphones to help you zoom through the store and out in no time. And spare your wallet in the process. Extra bonus if you play Macklemore’s thrift shop.

How to save money when grocery shopping

8. Reduce the number of shops you visit

When you go shop hopping, it feels like you’re saving money by hunting for the best deals. But the more stores you visit, the more you’ll tend to spend. You think you ought to reward yourself for your time and effort.

9. Suck on mint while shopping

Sound is not only the sensory weapon retailers employ in their vast arsenal of psychological tricks. Studies have shown that introducing fragrance into a store increases purchases by 80%. Retail companies artificially introduce smells to create a more hospitable environment that encourages visitors to stay – and open their wallets.

Even worse, pumping out a particular fragrance, say a coffee like smell, increased the sales of the beverage by over 300%. You should help yourself by sucking on a piece of mint while shopping. Mint effectively blocks your sense of smell and protects you from the scent of attraction – and impulse buying.

10. Don’t open a tab to save money when grocery shopping

Opening a tab at a bar or restaurant is a license to order drinks and food without much qualms about the costs. The reason is this: when you don’t pay immediately for a round of drinks, you won’t feel any pains which make it easier for you to order for the next – and the next. But once you pay for that first round, the pain of parting with cash will make you think twice about ordering more.


Changing habits may take a lot of time. But small changes consistently followed will help you drop bad spending habits and pick up good saving habits. You can start with the 10 tips above to gain more control over your spending habit and save towards a better financial future. All without having to make the shopping experience any less pleasurable.

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What is financial freedom?  This is a question that many people ask, but it is not always easy to answer. Financial freedom means different things to different people. For some, it might mean being able to quit their job and travel the world. For others, it might mean being able to provide for their family without having to worry about money.

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