Avoid These 5 Costly Mistakes When Shopping for Groceries

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If you’re unhappy with the total at the grocery store checkout line, it may be time to change your grocery shopping habits.


Key points

  • No matter where you live, you’re paying more for groceries than you did 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, prices at the grocery store continue to climb. For many, rising prices make grocery shopping stressful. If you’re following 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 the checkout line if you change your shopping 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 a paper flier or using your grocery store’s website or app to view the current sale items.

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

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

2. Buying only name-brand products

While some name-brand products are better than others, that’s not always the case. If you’re only buying popular brands, you’re likely spending more money than necessary.

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

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

3. Forgetting to use your store’s mobile app

Your grocery store likely has a mobile app, which could help you save money. You’re missing out if you’re not using it to plan your shopping trips.

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

4. Ignore package sizing

Many people scroll the aisles and only look at prices. While it’s an excellent idea to pay attention to the price tag, you should also consider the size of the products you’re buying.

While one item on the shelf may technically be cheaper, due to packaging, you may get a lot less product than a similar item that only costs a few cents 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 may not be a bad idea.

5. Pay with a debit card or cash

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

You could instead use a rewards credit card and earn cash back or other rewards every time you load up on groceries. You’re missing out on valuable rewards when you use a debit card or cash. If you’re interested in getting a rewards card, review 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 store run. You may need to develop new habits and change how you approach grocery shopping. However, if you’re willing to do this, you may be able to keep more money in your bank account.

If you’re on a financial wellness journey, review our personal finance resources for more tips.

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