Most Common Grocery Shopping Mistakes That Might Be Wasting Money
Up to 16 percent of Americans suffer from shopping addiction, or a compulsive habit of buying with significant adverse consequences, according to a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
And while shopping may not be such a severe problem for most people, some of us still make mistakes that cause us to waste money.
How much money do we spend on groceries?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend, on average, around 6% of their budget on food.
However, the study also shows that they also spend 5% of their disposable income on dining out. That makes your food budget 11% of your overall income.
A more efficient and realistic way to figure out how much to budget for groceries is to find what you’re currently spending. You can try to reduce your spending, keeping in mind that you and your family will also have to adjust the way you eat.
The most common grocery shopping mistakes
Most people hate grocery shopping, myself included. Grocery shopping is never just as easy as making a list; there is a lot more to it than that, and not everyone fully understands what it takes to be an efficient shopper. There are extremely common grocery shopping mistakes that way too many people are making, and chances are, they cost you money.
1. Not having a plan.
Going shopping without a list or a plan results in overspending. If you don’t know ahead of time what you’re going to purchase, you’re more likely to be tempted by unnecessary items that ultimately may not meet your needs.
2. Waiting until the last minute.
When you wait until the last minute to make a purchase, you’re more likely to overspend. Rather than purchasing needed items at the last minute, take time to plan for the week’s — or month’s — spending.
3. Using a cart instead of a basket.
Get in the habit of using a hand basket or one of the smaller shopping carts if those are offered at your grocery store. The heavier and more full the basket gets, the more aware you will become of the contents, which will help you realize there are things you don't need.
4. Forgetting to check your receipt for errors.
How closely are you monitoring the register when the cashier is quickly scanning your food items and ringing you up to make sure there are no pricing mistakes? It takes time to review a receipt, but do it, even if you're owed 50 cents.
5. Shopping in bulk.
It's easy to think that you're getting a better deal when you buy in bulk, but that's not necessarily so. One example is that avocados will be cheaper individually than in a grouped bag.
Supermarkets get us to spend more
There's a reason your mother told you to make a grocery list and stick to it. Every part of the supermarket, from the parking lot to checkout counter, is designed to make you spend more money and buy more food than you need. Learn how to spot supermarket marketing tricks and save money on your food shopping.
1. Special offers
It's a mistake to assume that all special offers are great. Just because it's got a red sticker doesn't mean you'll save much money. Instead, look carefully at the price per 100ml or 100g and where possible, compare the real price of the options available.
2. Waste: the 'sell by' trick
Households throw away more than seven million tons of food and drink every year, which could have been safely consumed. "Use-by" means that it can be dangerous to eat the product after the specified date.
3. Embarrassed by coupons?
You can save a lot of money by planning your shopping around the coupons available, so don't be embarrassed to use them.
4. Shelf stacking
Supermarkets tend to put the least expensive items on the bottom shelves. This is because most customers tend to grab the first item they see – at eye level – so take an extra second and look down for lower prices.
5. Habit shopping
A big mistake is to shop for the same brands each week out of habit – you can save a lot of money by being prepared to switch.
What you think you spend on food and what you actually spend on it could be two entirely different things. Either way, it’s important to find out how much you spend so you can see if it’s too much or if it’s right.
The material in this article is for informational purposes only. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not recommend that the reader rely fully on the information provided above.