SUPERMARKET STUMBLING BLOCKS
Whether you're there twice a month or twice a week, the grocery store is comforting in its familiarity — and stealthy in its ability to separate you from more of your hard-earned money than necessary. Even if you're a loyal shopper who loves your local chain, there are a ton of pricey slip-ups to avoid, from falling for slick merchandising to overpaying for name brands. There are also some items you shouldn't even consider buying at the grocery store. Here are 21 mistakes to watch out for next time you cruise the grocery-store aisles.
TRUSTING THE END CAPS
ALWAYS BUYING MULTIPLES TO GET A 'DEAL'
Grocery stores love to dangle deals like "10 for $10" or "3 for $6." Why? "People will buy more when something is listed as 10 for $10 than if they are listed as $1 each," says Melina Palmer, a behavioral economist and host of "The Brainy Business" podcast. Oftentimes, you aren't even required to buy the full number listed, Potter Kenyon says. "They are playing mind games with you and are correct in their assumption that the average consumer will put 10 in their cart, even if they don't need or won't use that many, just to get that sale price."
GOING TO THE STORE TOO OFTEN
SHOPPING ONLY AT EYE LEVEL
FORGETTING TO STACK COUPONS
Unless your store's coupon policy prohibits it, coupon stacking is a great way to pump up your savings. "The majority of stores allow you to combine their store coupon with a manufacturer coupon to double your savings," Potter Kenyon says. "That means you can use a Hy-Vee store coupon (that has their logo on it) with a manufacturer coupon (that says manufacturer coupon on it) and save even more." One more coupon strategy? See whether your grocery store accepts competitors' coupons. It's common practice at some big-name stores, including Publix.
TREATING THE GROCERY LIKE A ONE-STOP SHOP
OVERPAYING FOR 'FRESH' SEAFOOD
BUYING THE STORE-PREPPED MEAT
SKIPPING THE DELI COUNTER
ASSUMING BULK IS ALWAYS BEST
SHOPPING WITHOUT A LOYALTY CARD
FORGETTING ABOUT FUEL PERKS
DRAGGING THE KIDS ALONG
Parents know the unique pain of shopping with small children: They're bored, they're whiny, and they're begging you to buy the expensive fruit snacks because there's a cartoon character on front. "Don't take your children if you can help it," Potter Kenyon agrees. "You'll end up with Little Debbie snacks and the cereal you never buy otherwise." Thankfully, today's expanded curbside pickup options mean you can still buy your groceries without even having to get your toddler out of their car seat. For instance, you can shop online with Kroger and pick up your groceries for around $5. Walmart is rolling out a similar program that's free — yep, free — as long as your order totals $30. Just plan ahead, as some stores may not always have same-day pickup times available.
GETTING THE BIGGEST CART
REBUYING WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY GOT
ASSUMING THE STORE BRAND DOESN'T TASTE AS GOOD
OVERPAYING FOR TOILETRIES, BEAUTY ITEMS, AND HOUSEHOLD GOODS
These are the aisles where it's especially easy to spend more than you need to — and that's even if you have coupons, Potter Kenyon says. "Never pay full price for any health and beauty items that you typically see coupons for in the newspaper. Clip those coupons, and wait for a sale. … When I can't find a good sale before a coupon expires, I'll head to the dollar store and stock up on toothbrushes and toothpaste." Another place where it might make more sense to buy these items: Big-box stores like Walmart or Target, which were significantly cheaper than Kroger or pharmacies like CVS in a Cheapism price survey.