Budget Shopping for Beginners!

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Some people have less money in their pockets than they used too, as students we always
seem to have less money than we need, or maybe like me you just love a bargain!
Whatever the reason, why would you spend more money on groceries than you have to??
Wouldn’t you rather save a few euros for something nice? Good, me too!
So here’s my top tips for budget shopping.

NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER go shopping hungry!

You might not believe me but there’s massive science on this. Stores do really well from hungry shoppers. That’s why they waft out those fresh bakery smells through the store. They know when you are hungry you are MUCH more likely to buy things you don’t need, and, much more snacks and goodies than usual. Fact!

Make a List

Sounds too simple to be a saver tip right. It’s true though. Two reasons making a list works, one you are much more likely to remember and buy only what you need with a list. A mental list won’t cut it, actually write it down. The other element to this is more grocery store sneakery. Have you ever gone into a shop knowing exactly what you want and go to get it and it’s moved? They do that on purpose to make you buy more, and it works! They know shoppers become accustomed to where the things they buy are located, when they move them around you spend more time I store and more time looking at things you usually don’t and as a result, YOU BUY MORE. I told ya, sneaky! If you have a list with you, you have a much better chance of avoiding this pitfall, even if they’ve rearranged EVERYTHING! (There’s also a smug satisfaction that comes with marking things off a list, or maybe that’s just me !)

Limit your online shopping time

This is the virtual equivalent of making a shopping list. (You can actually in some online stores make a list but if not maybe make a list anyway). The reason is, the longer you spend browsing the virtual products the more ends up in your basket. If you treat online shopping with the same mindset as in store, “get in, get your stuff, get out” before you get snookered by sneakery. Bear in mind there is just as much sneakery online as in store, they can’t get you with bakery smells so they get you with ‘offers’ and images. Which leads me to my next point

Question your ‘Savings’

I want you to remember this phrase, memorise it, burn it into your shopping brain “It’s ONLY saving me money if I usually buy it in that quantity for a higher price”. It’s that simple. That might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how sneaky this one is. I’ll give you an example that makes it a bit easier to understand. I was shopping with my mam one evening and the cooked chickens were on ‘special offer’ €6 each or two for €10. My mam was getting one anyway so instinctively, loving a bargain, was opting for two. There was only me and her in the house and I wasn’t about to eat a full cooked chicken that night. So what was really going on here was, they had to sell them that night or they’d go to waste, it goes to waste they get no money. So by offering it to customers for €4 for the second one, we were basically paying them that to put it in our bin, because that’s where it would
have ended up. But it seemed like a good deal! Now, if we were a larger family and had planned on getting two cooked chickens and normally pay €12 THEN it would have been a saving. They do it on everything. You’ll spot loads now it’s flagged in your mind. When you do, remember my magic money saving phrase “It’s ONLY saving me money if I usually buy it in that quantity for a higher price”.

You can also apply that thinking to coupons. Oh coupons you’re like little paper monies and they just gave me them FREE. Aha, but why? Why would they give you something free? Look at the coupons you get. Are they for the products you buy every time you shop or, are they for ‘similar’ products, branded versions of the store or other brand you usually buy, or products along the lines of the ones you buy pizza slices instead of mini pizzas for example. Think about it. You’re more likely to buy these products BECAUSE you have coupons for them. So a similar mantra “If you weren’t buying it anyway, it’s NOT a saving”. Spending money on something, even if it’s cheaper than it usually would be, is you spending money you normally wouldn’t, you think you’ve gotten a deal but really they’ve just gotten your money!

Be store smart. There’s absolutely no denying there is price differences between different stores. You can’t go to 6 different store and check the price if everything and then decide. But as a guide stores like Lidl and Aldi are generally cheaper than other chain grocery stores. Some stores that facilitate online shopping means you can do a virtual shop if you wish without completing the transaction to see how much it would cost you. (Bear in mind Buyme app adds 5-20 cent on every item so it’s not showing the actual store price)
Top tips for first time shoppers This may be your first time living away from home. The sense of freedom shopping for what you want when you want it is liberating. But, that sense of joy evaporates quickly when money is tight and for the first time you understand why you weren’t allowed add in all those extras in the trolly when you went shopping with your family.

Follow the above tips to help, but here’s a few bonus tips for beginners.

Your first ever grocery shop should be for staples. Those things you take for granted as just
being there. Here’s an example of some of the things that appear on a staples shopping list.

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vinegar
  • Ketchup (or other sauces)
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Long life dried goods such as pasta, rice, packet soups, instant noodles(ramen)
  • Long life tinned products such as peas, beans, spaghetti
  • Stock cubes / herbs / seasoning
  • Powdered sauces like gravy, curry, pepper
  • Cereal
  • Cornflour
  • Cooking oil
  • Toilet rolls
  • Hand soap
  • Cleaning products including cloths
  • Washing powder or liquid
  • Fabric softener

Once you have your basic staples it’s much easier to plan meals which means you can
make an actual list of what you need to buy.

Think about 3 things before you make your list:

  1. What do I like to eat
  2. What can I make
  3.  What storage space do I have in fridge, freezer and presses

You love homemade lasagne. But you don’t know how to make it. And, if you don’t eat the whole thing when it’s done you’ve a tiny fridge and no freezer to store it in. So don’t start adding the ingredients to your list. Maybe compromise with individual ready made lasagne.
On the other hand, you’ve a full sized fridge, freezer and cooker. Go for add. Get a recipe from your mammy or a relative not a fancy chef! Look at what you have, such as pasta and
seasoning and add the other things to the grocery list. That’s made with a side salad and a baked potato is dinner for 2-3 days for 2-3 people (or freeze individual portions).

So you only need enough stuff for dinner for 4-5 days on your list. And so on!

Finally, if you are sharing accommodation, even if it’s with your best friends, it’s important to have a chat and set some ground rules for shopping.

Do you have a press or shelf each for your own personal belongings? If not does that need
to be established?

Also, a joint kitty (pool of money) for items used by everyone could prevent arguments on who used all the toilet roll and didn’t replace. Nobody wants to live in a house where they have to bring toilet roll from their room to the toilet and back! Throw in an agreed amount each per month and use this to replace the items yous chose as communal as needed!

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