Unless you’re a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, shopping for groceries can be a maximum bummer. Pushing a broken cart through an edible maze while dodging oblivious shoppers is no fun. If you somehow make it through without abandoning your cart in the meat department, you’re rewarded by a super long check-out line.
Lessen those grocery store blues by saving some money during your trip. You probably already use some personal financial apps, but there are also plenty of apps specifically designed to help you save money while at the supermarket.
Make a List
Most likely you’ve heard that the biggest mistake you can make while grocery shopping is going on an empty stomach. Another adage you’re probably familiar with is to always make a shopping list and don’t stray from it – not even for that movie theater-sized box of Sour Patch Kids.
If you have a smartphone, you have some sort of notepad app, which works just fine for your shopping list. But if you want to step your grocery game up a notch, consider using the OurGroceries app. It lets you create and save multiple shopping lists, and there’s also a “recipes” category to save lists for meals you cook frequently. Best of all, multiple people can edit the list via the app or a web browser.
This standard app might be the most important. You may have used your calculator to keep track of how much you’re spending as you shop, but it has another great grocery shopping trick -calculating price per ounce.
To figure out the price per ounce, divide the price of an item by how many ounces it contains. So a $4.00 jar of peanut butter that is 32 ounces would be 0.125 or 12.5 cents an ounce. Most often the cheapest route is to buy in bulk, but it isn’t always the case. Price per ounce comes in handy when comparing different brands to one another or comparing prices at different grocery stores.
To work in tandem with (or simply replace) their loyalty cards, many grocers now have apps. These apps can allow you to get exclusive sale offers and coupons straight from the store. You can also virtually clip manufacturer coupons that are often the same ones that come in the Sunday paper. The largest supermarket chain in the United States, The Kroger Co., has a useful app that will keep the savings coming. Target also features a great app, Cartwheel, which will save you on groceries and a bunch of other products they sell.
iBotta, Checkout 51, Saving Star, Receipt Hog and Snap by Groupon are just like a mail-in rebate, except faster. You simply take a picture of your receipt that shows you purchased the items that have a rebate. Once you reach a certain threshold of money saved, you can cash out and reap your savings.
Buy Groceries Online
Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon all feature online ordering for a wide variety of packaged food. Save some gas money by getting groceries delivered straight to your door. For some real savings, you can take advantage of Amazon’s or Target’s subscription feature. If there are certain items you know you need on a regular basis, like coffee, simply subscribe to them and receive a 5% discount. You can set subscriptions for how frequently or infrequently you’d like them delivered, and you can skip them or cancel entirely at any time. And if you have a Target REDcard credit card, you’ll still receive that 5% off as well.
If you’re proficient in a spreadsheet program and really want to save some serious cheddar on some serious cheddar, check this out.
While grocery shopping (or afterward, using your receipt), jot down items, their size and the price. Once they’re entered in Excel, go to a competing grocery store and enter the same information. Next, use a column to calculate the price per ounce for each store. Not only can prices vary from store to store, their sale prices can vary also. After a few trips to the grocery store, you’ll have a spreadsheet full of items and full of savings.
Saving a few cents on an item may not seem like much, but the savings definitely add up, especially when you’re saving every time you shop. Put those savings to work and put them toward something fun. You earned it!
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