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Groceries can take a big bite out of your budget. For many, the amount spent on groceries each month is one of their highest expenses. However, if you shop wisely, you could save hundreds of dollars a year on your grocery bill.

Don’t let the grocery store bite off more than you can chew. These 20 shopping tips will help you hunt down the best deals, avoid tricks designed to get you to buy more, and prevent impulse buys. Do not be one of those 5 types of people who never have money.

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1. Keep a running inventory of what you have in stock. Knowing what you have in the freezer and pantry can help eliminate impulse buys that result from a last moment thought at the grocery store that you may not have that item.

2. Plan meals according to what’s on sale. Before you make your grocery list, take a look at this week’s advertisements and sales papers. Look through any coupons you have as well. Develop a meal plan for the week according to the ads and coupons.

3. Learn the layout of the store. Know where each item on your list is located and only visit those aisles. This eliminates the urge to add things not on your list while you browse the aisles.

4. Reduce shopping trips. Plan your shopping list so that you only have to do your grocery shopping once a week or less. This helps save on gas and reduce impulse buys.

5. Comparison shop. Make a list of the items you most commonly buy, such as bread, milk, and eggs. Compare prices at the stores in your area and discover which store has the lowest prices for your overall needs.

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6. Stock up on items on sale. When items you use on a regular basis, such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, or groceries you will use before they expire go on sale, stock up on them and save hundreds a year. Possibly, it will be even reasonable to get a short term loan from Personal Money Service (and pay it off as soon as possible) just to stock up on sale items.

7. Size does matter. Don’t just buy the cheapest selection of an item, look at the price per pound or ounce as well. Make sure you are getting the most for your money.

8. Use digital coupons. Many stores offer digital coupons that can either be printed out or added to a loyalty card.

9. Sign up for that loyalty card. Many grocery stores offer loyalty cards. These cards allow customers to get extra savings, add digital coupons, and enjoy extra perks like discounts after purchasing a certain amount.

10. Ask for rain checks. If a sale item has been sold out, ask the clerk for a rain check that allows you to get the item at the sale price when it is restocked.

11. Visit your grocery store’s website. In addition to digital coupons that can be loaded onto your loyalty card, many stores offer other online deals that can only be accessed through their website, such as free items offered on specific days.

12. Rotate items in your refrigerator and freezer. Many of us end up throwing about a fourth of what is in our refrigerators and freezers away because it has gone bad or is freezer burnt. Look through your refrigerator and freezer every so often and make sure items that need to be used first are in front. On the other hand, you can also learn how your freezer can help in this money saving process.

13. Be a loner. The more people in your shopping party, the more likely you cart is to fill up with items you don’t need. This is especially true if the kids are along.

14. Eat before you shop. If you’re hungry when you are grocery shopping, it stands to reason you will be tempted to buy more because everything sounds good. The smells coming from the deli can also be a temptation when your belly is grumbling.

15. Shop to your own beat. Studies have indicated that stores play music with a slow beat to slow customers down so they will spend more time in each aisle. If you can’t tune out the music, bring your own upbeat tunes!

16. Use a smaller cart. If your store has a variety of shopping cart sizes, opt for the smallest. A larger cart only tempts you to buy more because it gives you the false impression that you haven’t put as much in the cart. Avoid the hand-held baskets, however. These small baskets make you more likely to buy a higher priced item or smaller impulse buys simply because they fit in the basket and are easier to carry.

17. Search the shelves. Many companies pay to have their products placed on the shelf at eye level. Search the shelves for the best deal.

18. Use the self check-out. If your store offers a self check-out aisle, use it. You are less likely to make last minute impulse buys if you are busy scanning your purchases instead of staring at the candy and other merchandise at the check-out aisle.

19. Slice and dice. Packaged or single-serving products are often priced higher than the whole item. Buy the block cheese, the whole chicken, or the entire watermelon and do your own slicing. Buy freezer bags and containers to store what you may not use right away.

20. If you use herbs, grow your own instead of buying the expensive bundles at the grocery store. Not only will they be fresher, you won’t waste any, and you can end up saving hundreds of dollars a year if you frequently use herbs in your cooking. You don’t need a garden to grow herbs. Simply place them near your kitchen window and keep them handy all year long. They will also make your kitchen smell wonderful!

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