Going grocery shopping is so ingrained into our culture that we usually don’t even give it second thought. We grab our shopping list, grab our cart, walk around the store, pick out the food we want, pay, and leave.
But in reality, every supermarket is a well-honed machine, hell-bent on getting you to spend as much money as possible without even realizing it, and they’re got a few dirty tricks up their sleeve to make sure that happens.
Here are six pricing secrets from grocery stores around the country that will save you time and money.
1. When in Walmart, 5 and 1 are your friends
If you shop at Walmart often, you will know that most of their price tags end in a seven. This is just the Walmart way of keeping things lower than the typical .99 or .49 prices of other stores.
However, when things do go on sale in Walmart, the end number changes. If you see a price ending in five, the item has just been marked down. This is good, but it's not as good as a one. Anything ending in one, such as $9.91, will be at its final marked-down price. If you have any hesitation that it will go down any further, forget it. This is as low as it will go, so if you want it, bag it.
2. Grocery stores change expiration dates on their products.
You can sometimes see this by looking at the labels. If it looks like the item has been labeled twice, you should probably think twice about buying it. Or, ask the manager for a discount if you can peel back the new label to reveal the old one, with the old expiration date.
Some stores will have clearance specials on products that are about to expire, but again, check the label. If it is about to expire based on the new label, it could be way past the original date. You may want to avoid that item.
3. Look for the Expiration Date on Aldi Breads
We all want the freshest bread we can get our hands on, but if price is an issue for you, take advantage of Aldi's discounting system. Aldi will discount any of its breads five days before the item is due to expire. So, if you see an expiration date that is six days away from the day on which you're shopping, come back tomorrow. The bread will be cheaper.
4. Many grocery stores will double coupons on certain days.
Depending on where you live, you will be able to double the value of your coupons. It varies from store to store, and state to state, but it is definitely something you should research. Shopping on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday, for instance, could save you a lot of money. About.com has a list of "double coupon" stores by state that is very handy.
5. Kroger Will Waive Coupon Expiration Dates
And finally, one for our military families. If you belong to a military family living on base, Kroger won't enforce the expiration date on any coupons you use, no matter how old or out of date they are. So, if you are currently living on base and have a stack of old coupons, don't throw them out. And going forward, you never again have to go through your coupons to remove the expired ones.
6. BOGO deals are not always what they seem.
Read the small print, every time you see a BOGO offer. For instance, when you see a sign that says "10 for $10," don't take it as a directive. Check the label to see if it specifically requires a purchase of 10 items to get the $10, or are they available for $1 each regardless of how many you buy.
This varies from store to store, and some are more strict about this than others. If you have any doubts, ask a cashier or store clerk to do a price check for you. If the item comes in more expensive when scanned on its own, it's likely you need to buy multiples to get the deal.
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