It doesn’t take much for household budgets to get thrown off track, especially if you find yourself spending more at the grocery store, every week, than you need to.

If you’re looking for some money-saving strategies to cut your grocery spending, the first step is to identify the source of the problem. Here are five possibilities:

  • Grocery shopping when you’re hungry: Although we’ve all done this at one time or another, there are things you can do to reduce the frequency with which it happens. The obvious solution is to either schedule your shopping trips for after you’ve eaten or to have a healthy snack before heading to the store. By taking those simple steps, it will be easier to resist impulse purchases, stick to a healthier diet, and avoid buying extra things you don’t really need.
  • Shopping with one or more children in tow: Sometimes it’s impossible to make child care arrangements when you need to go food shopping. However, when you have kids with you constantly pleading to buy this or that, you’ll probably say “yes” for every two times you say “no”! (If you’ve had a rough day or your resolve is low, the odds might be stacked more in favor of the kids!) The bottom line is that food shopping with children often adds quite a few dollars to your grand total.
  • Not comparing prices: Since we’re all “creatures of habit” and tend to switch to “autopilot” when we’re doing routine tasks like grocery shopping, most people gravitate toward buying well-advertised name brands or products with misleading buzz words, like “new”, “improved”, “reduced”, “natural”, “fortified”, “free”, or “special”. Sometimes those words do mean that you’re getting more value, but most of the time, they’re just marketing ploys. So it pays to read labels, compare prices, and make informed choices at the grocery store. You’d be surprised at how much money you can save by shopping more mindfully.
  • Having an aversion to coupons: A lot of people have convinced themselves that discount coupons are more trouble than they’re worth and that they really don’t save that much money. Others have adopted the attitude that it’s “beneath them” to clip and use supermarket coupons. One way to reframe the situation is to ask yourself how you’d feel if the store overcharged you $10 every time you shopped. While that’s just a hypothetical scenario that would probably never happen, many people are unintentionally boosting their own grocery bill (sometimes by that much) by not using coupons — especially at stores that offer double coupon value.
  • Not buying in volume: The old clich√© that things are “cheaper by the dozen” is as true today as it was generations ago. While it’s not practical or cost effective to buy larger quantities of products that are going to spoil, expire, get stale, or become obsolete, it does make sense to selectively take advantage of volume discounts and two-for-the-price-of-one (BOGO) deals.

If saving money at the checkout counter is a priority for you, keep an eye on prices, avoid impulse purchases, and consider taking advantage of worthwhile discount offers whenever they present themselves.

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