How to Change Your Shopping Habits to Save Money

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How to Change Your Shopping Habits to Save Money

You watch the grocery budget, shop sales, and use coupons when you can. But, somehow, you still can’t seem to lower your family’s food bill. You don’t know what else to try. Good news, I might know what’s happening. You could have some shopping habits you aren’t even aware of.

I’ve created a little quiz to help you to identify them and I’ll give you suggestions on how to change your shopping habits to save money.

Question #1 –

Do you feel trapped into shopping the same store(s)? If you answered yes to this question, you might have a bit of a mental block in how you think about shopping. 

Question #2 –

Does your nose wrinkle up when people suggest buying things like bread from the dollar store? If you admitted you do (or if your nose wrinkled just reading this question), you probably have built up expensive biases without realizing it.

Question #3 –

Do you find yourself drawn to how the packaging looks, rather than choosing products by the content, volume, and quality? If so, you might fall victim to impulse or justification buying more often than you realize. (I’ll explain justification buying below.)

Question #4 –

Do you look into your pantry, fridge, and freezer and regularly end up throwing food away? If that’s you, your buying habits aren’t matching your eating habits, resulting in pricey food waste.


Now let’s fix these…

Recommendation #1 –

To get out of a “store rut” (shopping the same place), be open to exploring your area. Throw away the idea that you can only go to {insert store name of choice} for {insert item you always buy}. Why? There are smaller places that hold some of what you need and you may have never even considered them. Here is an anecdote that demonstrates this:

Last week my friend ran into Walmart to grab a small list of specific items. As she entered the store, she nearly laughed out loud. There, parked in front, were two identical carts of shelf-stable groceries, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Adorning the fronts were the price totals; what you would pay buying at Walmart or at a “local competitor”. The totals were both over $100 and the amount separating the two was a mere $5 and change. This marketing display was intended to instill confidence in Walmart’s “always low prices” – but it didn’t. In a quick glance, my friend noted several items she knew she could purchase elsewhere and come nowhere close to paying $100 for the half-full cart of groceries. Furthermore, it completely ignored any store sales and coupons shoppers can take advantage of at other grocers. Save a mere $5 on over $100 in groceries? No, thanks, I can do better than that, Walmart.

Recommendation #2 –

Conquer your biases to really save money. As mentioned in the anecdote above, my friend knew she could buy several of the items at a local discount (aka salvage grocery store) for half of what it cost at Walmart. If your nose just wrinkled again, let me encourage you to check smaller stores before you just assume the quality is bad. I assure you, it isn’t. Smaller grocers can save you up to 50% and it’s the same products sold at the “big names”. To get you started, reflect back to our original Question #2. Many dollar stores (Dollar Tree brand, in particular) carry things like fresh bread. For $1. And they get a wide variety of healthy, name-brand bread that elsewhere is $2.50 or more. Give it a try to start. Then open yourself up to other potential places in your area.

Recommendation #3 –

Time to talk about justification buying. This is where maybe, on the whole, you’re good at not impulse buying but when it comes to buying what you do need… you find yourself buying the larger package or the prettier package. After all, you need it. You’re going to buy it anyway. So… it’s justified, right? Wrong. Take emotions out of it and evaluate: Are you buying a more expensive product just because it’s pretty? Or buying more than what you need just because you “need it anyway”? Stop doing that. Evaluate the best value based on the quantity and quality. Not on how nice the packaging is or on “getting more while you’re already at the store”. 

Recommendation #4 –

Speaking of buying too much… If you’re regularly throwing food away, it’s costing you. Big time. Begin to cut back on the quantities you buy. Don’t grab multiple similar items and throw them in the cart. You won’t get around to eating them fast enough. Consider tracking your family’s consumption with a food diary for a week or even two to gauge volumes and preferences more accurately. Buy less = spend less.

Use these suggestions to reset your spending habits and save money this month!

Written by Josh Elledge - Chief Executive Angel

Josh Elledge Consumer Savings Expert and Founder/Chief Executive Angel,®

Josh Elledge is on a mission to help Americans save money and time so they can give. He is Founder and Chief Executive Angel of®, which was created to bolster the buying power of the average U.S. family by combining technology, coupons and smart thinking for extreme savings on household consumables and everyday items.

Through his work with, Elledge has emerged as one of the nation's leading experts on consumer savings appearing in the media more than 2,000 times!



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