Have you ever had the experience of going into a shop for, say, a single piece of kitchen equipment and come out pushing a loaded trolley having spent ten times what you intended? It’s so easy to do. You could call it the Target effect, and there isn’t any mystery about it. It’s what the stores want to happen. Whether it’s groceries or household items, the store’s job is to get you to spend as much money as possible… whether you intended to or not. Here are a few tips to help you stay on budget and have you heading home with a sense of victory. This time none of Zulily’s cunning tricks have caught you out.
Make a list
Know what you are going for and do not allow yourself to be distracted, no matter how tempting the offers on display may look.
Start a new list right away
Put a list in your kitchen as soon as you get home with the groceries and mark on it when you notice you are running low. That way you will keep your store cupboard stocked up and avoid an expensive unscheduled dash to convenience store.
Find inspiration elsewhere
If you don’t know what to make for dinner, then browse your recipe books or look online so you’ve made up your mind before you arrive at the parking lot. You won’t be tempted into any expensive impulse purchases.
Gather your coupons
Find all your coupons AFTER you’ve drawn up a list, and see which apply. That way you won’t be tempted to buy something you don’t need – even if it is at a discount.
As yourself some hard questions
Why do you choose a certain brand? Is it really the best? Could you trade down? Are you opting for, say, organic products because it really matters to you? You may well find your buying habits are, just that, habits that could be changed for the cheaper.
Analyse your spending Look closely at your receipts over several weeks. Are there any patterns of impulse buys, anything you spend far more than you think you do on? It might be time to have a long, hard look at how and why you do your shopping. For example, do you always buy scented soap because you need some pampering, yet don’t ever use it?
Don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry
This is a fatal mistake and will lead to you loading your trolley with all manner of tasty things that your brain has convinced you that you need right now. After a meal, instead, you can make calm rational decisions.
Buy in bulk
Can you use a discount warehouse, such as Costco, to stock up on store cupboard supplies such as rice or dried pasta?
Pick the right time of day
Many grocery stores will mark down fresh produce towards the end of the day in order to make space for the next day’s items. Ask at your local grocery store they will be happy to tell you what time they do the round of marking down.
Leave the kids behind
Do you end up giving in to pester power and buying unnecessary items just to get some peace? It’s a common problem and one not helped by stores that place kid-friendly items just at their eye level. Either make it clear beforehand what, if anything, they can get or leave them somewhere else.
Bend and stretch
Obviously a store that is intending to get you to buy the most expensive items, will put them in the easiest and most visible place – at your eye-line and within reach. The better value items might be slightly harder to find. Perhaps on the highest or lowest shelves, or tucked in at the end. Take time to have a look at what’s there and how much it really costs.
Go with cash
When you pay by card, it’s much easier to sneak other items through without really feeling the pain of the extra cost. However, if you take the folding stuff knowing how much your budget is, it’ll be much more difficult to overspend.
Stay off your trolley
Don’t automatically grab a huge trolley on the way in. If you only need a few things, take a basket and if you only need one or two just hold them in your hands. You won’t be tempted to bung items into the empty space.
It’s often easier to stay in control of what you buy when you do your shopping online and have it delivered