A big part of surviving a layoff (after acceptance) is seeing where you stand financially and cutting back accordingly. When you are trying to cut back on spending, money spent on food is the first to go. No more ordering in or going out to eat twice a week, no more skim lattes and those morning egg sandwiches are going to be home made from here on out. But what about at the supermarket? If you always end up spending more than you planned, check out these tips I wrote for Cheapines.com on avoiding food shopper’s remorse:
- Go on a full stomach. Rule number one of successful food shopping: Never go hungry. I don’t know the exact statistics behind it, but you are way more likely to grab items off the shelf that you don’t need, (read: Oreos) when your stomach is rumbling.
- Take a detailed list. Another way to stop grabbing things you don’t need is knowing what you actually do need. Don’t just write, “milk, eggs, cheese.” Knowing exactly what you are there to get—skim milk, Laughing Cow light spreadable cheese and a dozen large eggs—will also help prevent you from grabbing chocolate milk, two dozen eggs and Monterey Jack on top of what you really needed to get.
- Let go of brand names. I love Honey Nut Cheerios. But my local store’s brand of “honey Os” is just as yummy and a buck and a half less (sorry General Mills). I also get store brand bread, milk, eggs, cheese, turkey, jelly—basically everything I can. If you bought 15 items of store brand products and they were all $1 cheaper than the originally brand, that’s $15 in your pocket, no life change necessary.
- Don’t be too trusting. Always check the unit price to determine if you are really catching a sale, or if your supermarket is just making it look that way. Let’s say Welch’s Jelly is $3 per 16 oz and Smucker’s Jelly is $2 per 16 oz. If Welch’s is on sale 2 for $5, Smucker’s is still cheaper by $.50 per jar. Don’t just trust a sale sign, look into it for yourself.
- Watch the register. Good Housekeeping recommends staying on top of each item at the register. Since stores’ sales often change weekly, their scanners are constantly being updated. Just because Welch’s was advertised as 2 for $5, doesn’t guarantee the scanner isn’t going to ring it up at $3 per jar. Watch as items get scanned and don’t be shy to point out the mistakes.
- Make two trips. This one comes from Good Housekeeping, too. When you are food shopping, don’t head down the personal-care aisle or look for other non-grocery items. Get what you came for and avoid paying for convenience by stopping by a pharmacy on your way home for that mouthwash that would have cost you an extra buck at the supermarket.