Savvy Shopping – Beating the Supermarket

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It’s not a coincidence that the bread and milk are nowhere near each other in the likes of Asda, Tesco and even Lidl. The idea is you have to navigate a labyrinth of temptation just to get that much-needed pint of milk and loaf of wholemeal bread.

That’s because supermarkets are designed to make you spend more! If you’re savvy enough, you can avoid paying more than you need to.

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Here’s how you can beat the supermarket using my thrifty tips:

1. Check the unit price

Most stores offer a number of products in an inexplicable range of sizes, all at different prices. It can be difficult trying to work out which is best value, especially if there is a special offer on some pack sizes. Have look at the unit price on the shelf label or put those GCSE Maths skills to use.

2. Is it really a good offer?

We’ve all seen the big promotional signs shouting about brilliant offers and reductions. I am a fan of such deals IF they are in fact as good as they first appear. There are occasions when I’ve spotted a deal only to realise it will actually cost more than buying the same item in a different pack size. Like this signage advertising a Low Price of £5 for 12 loo rolls when right next to it there is a 24 pack for just £8!

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People often fall into this trap when they spot an offer on the end of an aisle, sometimes the best offers might be on the end but without any other like for like items around for comparison, it’s hard to tell. Take this one for instance, 6 tins of Heinz for £4 on the end of an aisle, yet just round the corner you can get a 6 pack for £3.85 or a 4 pack for £2! Obviously if you want a variety of flavours, the 6 for £4 offer might be better but you could get two different flavoured four packs for the same price and have two extra tins.

3. Don’t go to the supermarket when you’re hungry!

This is something I learnt whilst at University, my housemates and I would make sure we ate before going shopping otherwise we would buy the most ridiculous things leaving us extremely skint. That’s because if you’re hungry, you will be more likely to impulse buy because you want to eat all the lovely produce.

4. Beware of Family size packs and bundles

This type of offer relies on our perception of words like ‘Family’, ‘Value’ and ‘Bundle’. They’re used to make us think that we are getting something a bit better or more special when in fact, we might be paying more. It’s not always the case, but as with the unit price, it’s worth checking the price of equivalent products.

Some of my favourites at the moment are the bundles offered by Asda Online Groceries. Long story short, their “bundles” cost the same as buying the items individually but it’s presented in such a way most people would be lead to think they were getting a deal. So wise up to their sneaky use of buzz words and phrases and check if there is any benefit to what they’re offering before putting it into your trolley.

5. Go with a list AND STICK TO IT

Make a list of what you need and only buy what you need – it’s that simple. This helps to prevent buying things that you don’t actually need and helps you focus on what’s going into your trolley. It also means you don’t arrive back home without the couple of items you actually went for.

6. Downshift items

This is a simple one to try, the idea is you choose the same product from the next price bracket down. For example, if you usually buy premium, try branded. If you usually buy branded get a supermarket brand version. If you usually get supermarket own brand switch to a value alternative. It’s a great way to save a bit of money whilst seeing if those in your household notice the difference in the products. The majority of what I buy is own or value brand stuff now and I don’t know the difference at all.

The way to find these cheaper products is sometimes by literally looking down, most places stock the lower costing items and cheaper alternatives lower down on the shelves. It’s the pricer stuff that tends to be at eye level as it stands out more and is easier to grab and chuck in your trolley without much consideration.

7. Scan as you shop or add up as you go

My local Tesco and Asda both have Scan and you Shop and Scan as you Go hand held scanners. I love it as I can keep an eye on my spending and bag my shopping as I go. It’s a great way to stick to your list and your budget. There is always the option of adding up your shopping on your calculator as you go round the shop but it’s a little more difficult to do if you’re shopping on your own.

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8. Don’t make assumptions

Don’t assume that something is better because something has a fancier label or a jazzier name. We often think we are getting better quality goods when in reality, we are sometimes paying more for the packaging. Take tins of chopped tomatoes as an example, they all contain around 60-65% tomatoes, tomato juice and citric acid yet prices differ hugely.

A value tin costs 28p whereas a branded tin costs around £1.40! At the end of the day, it’s a bit of chopped veg that you’re likely going to use to make a spag bol full of other tasty flavours so are you really going to notice the difference that much that it’s worth wasting a pound on one tin?

Also, don’t assume because something is on offer that the supermarket are going to draw your attention to it. Sometimes they will, other times they won’t. Like this deodorant, two tins, same brand, same prices but different sizes yet it doesn’t stand out with a big colourful sticker, there’s just small writing saying Roll Back, luckily these were next to each other so a lot more noticeable for shoppers.

9. Shop World Foods

You can often get amazing savings in the world food aisle, especially on things like herbs and spices. Of course, the supermarket don’t put all the spices on the same aisle so most people wanting some dried chilli flakes would head to the regular herbs and spices section. A 37g pot of Asda cumin seeds costs 89p, not bad compared to the Schwartz alternative 35g pot for £1.65. However, just a few aisles down you can get a 100g bag of cumin seeds for 67p!

I’m sure there is more that can be done to avoid the tricks of the supermarket, so let me know what you do in the comments below or over on my Instagram or Facebook page.

Happy Savvy Shopping,

Thrifty Clair X

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