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Since the first Piggly Wiggly self-service grocery store opened in 1916, supermarkets have found clever ways to lure us into spending more of our money. From special offers, putting sweets by the till, the smell of fresh bread, and expanding their services to include chemists, furniture and clothing, it takes a lot self-control to avoid being tempted to buy things you hadn’t planned to.

To help you stick to your budget, we’re going to look at the best ways to manage your shop.

Make an old-fashioned list – buy what you need

The golden rule is to make a list and stick to it.  If you are doing a weekly “big shop” then plan your meals for the next seven days, ideally cooking extra portions to be eaten the next day or frozen for use another time. When writing the list make sure that you go through your cupboard and fridge at the same time so that you're not buying things you’ve already got.

Once you get to the supermarket, it just comes down to sticking to the list!  This will help you swerve the sweets and magazines placed by the tills and special offers that tempt you into spending more than you planned.  Remember to look at the top and bottom of the shelves for cheaper own brand products – the products placed at eye level are usually the prime profitable sellers the store wants you to choose.

Don’t be a brand snob

Are you wedded to your brands?  If you are you’ll be paying over the odds as the supermarkets’ own brand products are much cheaper. You can save a packet by trying these out, or mix and match items that are cheaper and taste great with ones you just can’t be without.

Don’t be loyal

Sticking to one supermarket isn’t necessarily the cheapest way to shop.  Track prices at mysupermarket to see which of the chains have the cheapest products and register to get price alerts and find the best offers for you.  For many people combining trips to the discount supermarkets, Aldi and Lidl, with the larger chains works out cheapest.

Think of “loyalty” and reward schemes as an extra benefit.  The key is not to be lured into buying items you wouldn’t normally buy, or overspend just to meet the criteria of a loyalty scheme. Instead, sign up to them as they are free, but see them as a bonus on top of your regular spend.

Buy branded cleaning products more cheaply

For some time, there has been a price war on cleaning products between supermarkets. But you can’t beat Poundland for everything from washing up liquid, cream cleaners, etc. Stores like Home Bargains and B&M are also worth checking for this type of product.  Avoid any sample sized quantities, always buy full size.

Make fewer trips

Fewer trips to the supermarket means less travel. That’s very good for your pocket and the environment. It will also make you more focussed on using up everything at home. Explore new recipes with leftovers, freeze food you can take to work, or eat it at a later date. Keeping your fridge and freezer full, surprisingly uses up less electricity too as there are less air gaps to keep cool.

Want to know whether grocery shopping is cheaper online or in-store? Check out our blog.

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