Money Monday: How To Become A Supermarket Ninja

BY: - 10 Oct '11 | Money

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Your grocery bill is one of your family’s largest expenses. Yet when it comes to shopping, many of us leave big money on the table.

But you can outsmart the grocery stores at their own game and easily save your family $1,000, $2,000, even $3,000 or more every single year. Here are eight ways you can become a supermarket ninja.

Plan your meals around the sales

Want an easy way to save money quickly? Simply plan your family’s meals around whatever is on sale for the week. If whole chicken is on sale for .99/lb, your family will be eating chicken for dinner. Plan your meals. Make a list. Stick to it and you’ll laugh all the way to the bank.

Throw store loyalty out the window

I love cherry picking. Each week supermarkets offer amazing deals on a few products, hoping to make up the difference as you fill your basket with non-sale items.

I’m not having it. That’s right, I throw store loyalty out the window. I pick only the best deals from each supermarket chain.

But what about the gas costs, you argue? With the cutthroat supermarket business you can often find different chains located within a few blocks of each other. Where I shop, for instance, three major grocery chains are located within 800 yards of each other, and each week I cherry pick each and every one.

Become an infrequent shopper

Save money by becoming a once a week shopper. Depending on the study cited, nearly 40% to 50% of all of our supermarket purchases are impulse purchases ““ items we had no intention of buying when we entered the store.

The fewer trips we make to the grocery store during the week, the fewer opportunities there are for costly impulse purchases to wreck our shopping budgets.

Make stockpiling your best friend

Sometimes a sale is not just a sale. Sometimes it’s a super sale. Let me give you an example. Marie Callender’s frozen meals generally can be found in the Chicago area on sale for $3.69, $3.29, $2.99 and even $2.50.

But about once every eight weeks they go on sale for 5/$10. That’s when I pounce and lock in the savings by buying several weeks worth.

Knowing when an item is at its rock bottom price and stockpiling at that moment is the perfect way to reduce your grocery bill by 40% or more.

Check out the store brands

Store brands have gone upscale while retaining their discount pricing. The reason? Supermarkets can now make more money producing and selling their own brands than they can “renting” store space for national brands. Consequently, they have a vested interest in making sure their store brands are up to snuff. I should know. I’m addicted to Jewel-Osco chocolate chip cookies and other store brands. For the average consumer just purchasing a fraction of your groceries as generics can save you hundreds each year.

Get a little German help

Aldi supermarkets may be one of the best kept secrets in the grocery world. Based in Germany, Aldi is one of the world’s largest grocery chains. Their no frills approach keeps costs low, and the savings are passed on to the consumer. Shoppers can save up to 50% compared to traditional stores.

Slash the waste

A 2006 study found that we waste nearly 14% of all the food we purchase. This costs the typical family of four at least $600 a year. To save money, follow your supermarket’s lead and rotate the items in your fridge and cupboards.

When we place new groceries at the front of the refrigerator it simply pushes older items to the back. This virtually guarantees that the half used stick of butter, two lone eggs, or quarter carton of milk never gets used.

Instead, take a few extra minutes to rotate your food. Place new groceries in back and move your older items to the front.

Use your coupons like a pro

You don’t want good savings with your coupons. You want great savings. Always try to combine your manufacturer’s coupons with a store sale to get the maximum benefit.

If your store runs out of a sale item, don’t get mad. Get even. Make sure to obtain a rain check. This will allow you to combine the rain check with a manufacturer’s coupon in the future for super-sized savings.

Times are tough. But if you learn to shop like a pro you’ll put hard earned cash back into your family’s pockets.

BMWK, what are some of the strategies you use to lighten your grocery bill?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 296 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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9 WordPress comments on “Money Monday: How To Become A Supermarket Ninja

    1. Alonzo

      Smart move.

      So many of the coupon items are for overpriced and processed foods, or for things that we’d never buy anyway,   that it often doesn’t make sense to use them.   I also get some of my paper items, toilet paper, toothpaste, and soap from the dollar store. No shame to my game – LOL

  1. Jackie H.

    I need to get into couponing but it gets overwhelming with all of them that arrive in my mailbox daily…Also, I get my paper items at the dollar store too…And my mom has told me about Aldi..I visited once..but it seemed soo boring…Do you mean the sales papers in the Sunday paper? Great post…

    1. Alonzo

      Hey Jackie,

      Don’t get over whelmed with the coupon thing. They can add to your savings but there are things that you can do to save yourself just as much money like purchasing some of your groceries at Aldi. I know what you mean when you say the stores look boring. I was turned off when I first walked in, that is until I started seeing the savings. I don’t purchase everything there (perhaps 30% of my groceries) but the savings make it well worth the time and effort.

  2. LW

    I have been a HUGE FAN of couponmom.com for years. No sense in doing all the work when its already been done for you. My grocery bill was $86 yesterday. I paid $29. with the exception of meats and produce, We eat what is on sale. Period. The kids never know what is coming in the door in the bags from the grocery store bc they know how mommy shops. So unloading the bags and putting the food away is always fun for them because its like a mystery. I won’t buy things that are on a steep sale JUST BECAUSE they are on a good sale. that is wasteful and greedy. I also REFUSE to do the “extreme couponing” thing, stockpiling hundreds of thousands of items that we will never use just because they are free. 1-2 items that are free with a coupon are PLENTY for my family. I will stockpile 5-10 items when they are on a GOOD sale if it is something we use often but that is it.  

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Money Monday: Childhood, Inc – The Advertising Assault on Our Kids

BY: - 24 Oct '11 | Money

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It seems marketers can’t wait to get their hands on our kids, and now they’re even reaching into the cradle.

According to ADWEEK, the infant to 3-year-old crowd is the hottest new advertising demographic. Yes, they may be barely able to walk or talk but corporations see dollar signs in these young eyes, and they’ll do everything they can to hook them while they’re young.

And it seems to be working.

According to a Stanford University study, three to five-year-olds rated food wrapped in McDonald’s wrappers as tasting superior to the same exact food wrapped in plain packaging. And as ADWEEK points out, by the time a child is three, she can recognize an average of 100 brand logos.

So it’s no wonder advertisers have turned on the marketing blitz. From branded diapers and baby clothes to advertiser-driven children’s networks, our kids are being assaulted with ads. Seven states even allow advertisements on school buses.

But psychologist worry about the effect of rampant advertisement on children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“Research has shown that young children””younger than 8 years””are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising. They do not understand the notion of intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value.”

Others point to marketing as the primary driver of youth consumerism, and some say the damage inflicted from advertising can be far more severe.

Writing for the American Psychological Association, Rebecca Clay points to psychologist Allen Kanner’s suggestion that advertising can cause the “narcissistic wounding” of kids. They become ingrained to believe they are inferior if they don’t have the latest advertised product.

So how do you protect your children?

Turn off the television

Young people watch more than 40,000 ads per year on television. All of this television watching comes at the expense of playtime. It’s this playtime that psychologist insist is crucial to child development, so much so that the United Nations has proclaimed play as the right of every child worldwide.

Hide-in-seek, jacks, tag, Candy Land and and Go Fish have been replaced with the idiot box, and our children are suffering for it.

Don’t rely so much on the digital pacifier

We all know that a DVD player, computer, or iPad is a convenient way to pacify a child for an hour or two. Marketers realize this too and have infiltrated these new digital platforms. Many children’s websites, for example, are laden with advertisements. Others lure children to bug their parents into unlocking new features on the site, all for a price of course.

Stay clear of the branding

Modern day corporations are branding machines. They use well loved children’s characters and plaster them over any and every kind of product, all in an effort to attract and influence young eyes. How else do you explain the Sponge Bob underwear and High School Musical lunch boxes?

It’s hard enough to resist the effects of advertising as an adult. We should shield our children from such influences as long as possible.

BMWK, how do you protect your children from the massive advertising assault?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 296 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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