Avoid these 5 costly mistakes when shopping

A mother, father, son and daughter unpacking bags of groceries in their kitchen and playing with the food.

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If you’re unhappy with your grocery checkout total, it might be time to change your shopping habits.


Key points

  • No matter where you live, you’re paying more for groceries than last year.
  • Many shoppers are looking for ways to save money while still getting the food and essentials they need.
  • Consider shopping with a list, checking out store brand products, and using your store’s mobile app, which may offer coupons.

Thanks to high inflation, grocery prices continue to rise. For many, rising prices make grocery shopping stressful. If you’re on a budget, you may struggle to buy all the food and essentials you need without breaking the bank. Many shoppers don’t realize they’re making small mistakes that cost them a significant amount of money, but you can spend less in line if you change your buying habits. Here are some costly mistakes to avoid at the grocery store.

Most grocery stores have weekly sales. You can find what’s on sale by browsing through a paper flyer or using your grocery store’s website or app to view current sale items.

Buying items on sale is a fantastic way to waste less money at the store. By choosing your meals for the week and planning what you’ll buy around sales, you can avoid buying overpriced items.

It might take a while to get into the habit of browsing through your store’s sales before you enter your cart, but it gets easier the more you do it. You might even find it turns into a fun game.

2. Buy only branded products

Although some branded products are better than others, this is not always the case. If you only buy popular brands, you are probably spending more money than necessary.

You can get similar quality products and save money when you switch to generic brands. Many generic products taste the same and cost a fraction of the price, which means you spend less money.

One thing to remember is that sometimes brand name products are cheaper if they are on sale. Pay attention to what’s on sale each week to make budget-conscious purchasing decisions, but don’t be afraid to try generic products.

3. Forgetting to use your store’s mobile app

Your grocery store probably has a mobile app, which could help you save money. You’re missing out if you don’t use it to plan your shopping trips.

Grocery apps typically outline the items on sale for the week. But they may also offer other ways to lower your grocery bill. Many grocery apps include virtual coupons, which you can use to get a discount when buying eligible items. These coupons activate in seconds and the savings can add up quickly.

4. Ignore the package size

Many people browse the aisles and only look at the prices. While it’s a great idea to pay attention to price, you also need to consider the size of the products you’re purchasing.

While an off-the-shelf item may technically be cheaper, due to the packaging, you may get significantly less product than a similar item that costs just pennies more. When you pay attention to package size and price, you can make a more informed decision. Spending a little more money on a product that will last longer might not be a bad idea.

5. Pay with debit card or cash

Many shoppers also make the mistake of using a debit card or cash to pay for groceries. This move could cost you money.

Instead, you can use a rewards credit card and earn cash or other rewards every time you stock up on groceries. You’re missing out on valuable rewards when you use a debit card or cash. If you want to get a rewards card, check out our list of the best grocery credit cards.

Develop new habits to save more money on groceries

Yes, food prices are high. But you can still take steps to save money while doing your weekly grocery shopping. You may need to develop new habits and change your approach to grocery shopping. However, if you are willing to do this, you may be able to keep more money in your bank account.

If you’re on your way to financial wellness, check out our personal finance resources for more advice.

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