Know the Supermarket Spending Traps
You did everything right. Planned a menu, made a list, organized your coupons, updated your shopping apps, and had a snack before you left for the store. Yet, you still ended up going over your grocery budget for the week, and you don’t know why. Chances are, you got caught in one or more of the following supermarket spending traps.
Spending Trap #1: Music
While it may seem like harmless background noise, the music played in the store can actually affect your shopping habits. Slow music can cause you to take your time and spend more. And classical music can make you buy more expensive items than you intended. To counter these effects, you can bring your headphones and listen to your own music. Or just be aware that when you hear Beethoven and Brahms, the store is hoping you’ll reach for the brie.
Spending Trap #2: Store Layout
It’s no accident that the tempting aromas of fresh baked goods greet you as you enter the store. Or that staples items like eggs and milk are all the way in the back. This spending trap is designed to make you hungry and get you to walk through the entire store to get to the items you really need. There are a few ways to escape this spending trap. One is to learn the layout of the store you shop most often and head for only what you need, bypassing temptation along the way. The other is to shop the perimeter of the store for staples like produce, dairy and meat and avoid the aisles as much as possible.
Spending Trap #3: Bulk Sales
The sign screams ’10 for $10!’ which seems like a great deal. Until you get them home and realize you only needed two. These bulk sales are really just a sneaky way of getting you to spend more than you planned. Studies show they can get you to increase how much you spend by 30-100 percent! Don’t fall for it. Stay on track and buy only what you know you will use.
Spending Trap #4: Shelf Placement
Be aware that stores place their most profitable items at eye level. It’ where you’ll find the name brands and recognizable packaging. But when you take the time to look up and down, you’ll see the store brands and generics that will help you save. Just remember not to grab for the first thing on the shelf that catches your eye—it was meant to for a reason.
Spending Trap #5: Free Samples
Sure, free samples are a fun diversion, and often delicious, too. So delicious, in fact, they entice you into buying something you hadn’t planned. Stores don’t give out free samples just to keep you happy while shopping. They do it to provide the instant gratification that makes you more likely to impulse buy the item you just sampled. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the free samples. Simply take one, smile, say thank you and go right on shopping from your list.
Use our Living Expenses Calculator to help you plan and stick to a food budget.