You've spent more time in supermarkets than you
care to imagine and if there's one thing you've probably learned, it's that most
of them spend a lot of time and money trying to separate you from your
hard-earned dollar. Those aisles can be perilous, unless you know what tricks
are in store.
- Grab a bite. You've
heard it before and it's true: Try not to shop when you're hungry.
Everything looks good, especially high-priced convenience or takeout foods.
- Don't judge a book by
its cover. Manufacturers of some of your favorite
brand of canned beans, for example, may just reduce the contents of the cans
from 16 ounces to 15. The can looks exactly the same, and wouldn't you know,
so does the price. It's nothing but a sneaky way to make more money.
- Don't be a slave to
brand names. Canneries and packing plants often
handle several name brands as well as store brands. What's inside the
store-brand packages may be just as good as the big-name version, but for as
little as half the cost.
- Bigger isn't always
better. When you are comparing various brands of
the same product or different quantities of a single brand, read the unit
price (those labels on the shelves that break down the cost by ounce).
Larger containers often work out to be a better deal, but not always. It may
even be cheaper to buy two of a smaller size than a single large one.
- Don't go coupon
crazy. If you didn't want it in the first place,
getting something for less is no bargain. And just because you have a coupon
for something doesn't mean it's the best deal. Check other brands!
- Make a list and stick
to it. But if you see a sale on a nonperishable
food that you use often, stock up.
- Bend and stretch.
Higher-priced products are often placed at eye level; lower-priced versions
of the same item are usually on the top or bottom shelves.
- Look twice.
Be careful of those big sales displays at the ends of aisles. The same item
can sometimes be found for less in its usual place on the shelf.
- Stick to your
mission. This is especially true when you're
picking up just one or two items. Getting milk, for example, means walking
all the way to the back of the store and passing all sorts of temptations.
If you think you'll succumb, bring only enough money for what you need.
- Check out the
checkout. Those scanners at the checkout line are
connected to a central data bank, but shelf tags or computer listings aren't
always updated promptly. Watch the numbers, and don't be afraid to speak up
if you think you should be paying less.