If you’re like any other human out there and end up coming out with a full weeks worth of shopping rather than the milk and bread you needed, you’re not alone.
Most people who tend to shop on an empty stomach – or without a list – can come out with random bits and bobs that they never intended to buy, nor actually need, costing them a fortune in the long-run.
Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website is full of great tips with lots of shopping hacks to help you save and spend less – saving thousands.
So we’ve decided rounded up our favourite supermarket hacks below.
Thank us (or them) later.
Store layouts – designed to make you spend
If you’ve ever noticed product placement, this won’t shock you.
But if you haven’t – the next time you go shopping see if there’s any sweet treats or deals on when you walk in, at the till and when you leave. These are impulse buys, so putting them near the till gives stores one last attempt to get more money.
Now that you’re aware of this, and if you bare it in mind, it’s easy to spot and should help you save.
Plan your budget
Instead if thinking how can I get this shop for cheap, think about your budget and what you actually need and which items are at the top of your list such as food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Budgeting comes down to several factors such as income and individual/family needs – this will obviously vary from person to person. To help with that, use the money savings website budget planner.
The Downshift Challenge
Martin Lewis suggests to do the following:
Try dropping one brand level on everything to see if you can tell the difference. If not, stick with the cheaper one – money saved.
For example, if you use tinned tomatoes, try using the stores own brand which can be as cheap as 20p – sometimes stores will also have their ‘best’ brand – try that as that can still be under £1 and cheaper than branded products.
Again, if you don’t notice a difference and still enjoy it – start buying the cheaper brand.
“The point of this system isn’t to force you to drop down a brand level on everything, but to ensure you’re not spending money for no reason. If you can’t tell the difference between the lower brand level goods, then why pay more for it.
“It’s far better to taste with your mouth than your eyes, so try giving family members a blind taste test with no packaging to ensure it’s fair. Of course, let’s not go extreme on this. If there’s a 2for1 on a higher brand (and you’d use both packs) making it cheaper than downshifting, stick with the higher brand.
“Many can save £1,000s. Drop a brand level on everything you buy and according to the (now closed) MySupermarket comparison website, you’ll usually cut the bill by 30%. For a family with an £100 weekly shop, that’s over £1,500 a year. Even if you only drop half the brands because you can tell the difference on others, that’s still a saving of £750 a year.
“It’s worth noting the biggest downshift savings aren’t from premium brands to manufacturer brands, but for those who are already lower down the brand chain.”
Premium: Words like ‘finest’ or ‘extra special’ imply it’s a treat.
Branded: Products like McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes or Kellogg’s cereal.
Own brand: These tend to be presented in a similar way to manufacturers’ brands, but with the shop’s own take on it.
Value: With names like ‘basic’ or ‘savers’, the presentation is deliberately stark to imply it’s cut back to the bones.
No not that website – get the song out of your head!
Comparison site mySupermarket has a “swap and save” option based on the Downshift Challenge. When you enter your shopping trolley, it’ll compare other supermarket prices as well as offering downshifted options, too.
This isn’t just for food – its for drinks, snacks, cleaning products, kitchen utensils or homeware – anything!
Don’t shop on an empty stomach
It’s the worst thing to do because you’ll just end up thinking about your stomach – not what you actually need.
Go after breakfast or ideally lunch where you’re hopefully full enough that your stomach won’t be making noises.
Using coupons can make serious savings to your shopping bill.
Money Saving Expert’s coupon page regularly updates – so keep your eyes peeled!
Extreme couponers gather hundreds of product and store coupons, before combining them to slash their shopping bills.
If you want to become an extreme couponer, check MSE’s Extreme Couponing Tips page.
Is it really a good deal?
Sometimes, all is not as it seems when supermarkets have products on offer. Stores can exaggerate original prices to make special offers seem more cost effective.
“In August 2019, Which? investigated the price of 450 products available at seven supermarkets (Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose).
“It spotted 65 instances where supermarkets used misleading discounts that didn’t represent the bargains they claimed. Supermarkets’ tactics included upping the price per item when products went into a multi-buy offer and exaggerating original prices to make special offers seem cheaper.”
And even if you bee a BYGOF (Buy One Get One Free) think, do you really need that product? Think the same when it comes to 2 for 3. If you need one, only buy one – but if you need more, take advantage of the deal.
Sign up to Glasgow Live’s newsletter
Get all the latest Glasgow news and headlines sent straight to your inbox twice a day by signing up to our free newsletter.
The morning newsletter arrives every day before 9am and the evening newsletter, manually curated by the team, is sent between 4pm and 5pm, giving you a round up of the most important stories we’ve covered that day.
To sign up, simply enter your email address into this link here.
Get online supermarket vouchers
Supermarkets are always on the look-out for new customers, enticing them in with vouchers and deals like “£15 off £50 when you shop here”.
You can also sometimes find online shopping codes in supermarket magazines, or get cashback even on online shops.
Remember your cashback
You’ve heard of Top Cashback, right? It’s something a lot of us can easily forget to use but it can save us a lot of money.
Use it – you can even add it to your browser so ever time your on a site that can get cashback, it will remind you.
Get a rain check voucher
This little known tip can help you get your hands on sold-out sale items – you can ask for a “raincheck” voucher to make up for the store not being able to provide it.
It’s at the store manager’s discretion, so everyone’s experience may differ, but it’s definitely worth asking.
Loyalty schemes don’t mean you have to stay loyal
Supermarkets always use sneaky tactics to keep us in their store so we don’t take advantage of competitive markets.
This can be from points to vouchers and well, anything really.
But just because you have a loyalty card, doesn’t mean you need to shop there.
Martin’s golden rule: choose where to shop on price, not because you get points, but always get points when you’re spending there anyway. See their Loyalty Points Boosting guide for more info.
Reclaim old Clubcard vouchers
Customers can get their hands on forgotten points by logging into the “Your vouchers” section on Tesco’s website. The site will allow customers to use the last two years’ worth of unused vouchers to make further savings.
Reduced to clear
Ah yes the yellow stickers. Most items will be fully reduced up to 95% from 4pm onwards so it can be best to shop late if you can.
It may be worth asking when each store reduces theirs as it can simply depend on staff and how many items they have to reduce.
Just don’t swarm retail workers – give them space.
Best before “≠” out of date
The best before date just means a product is at its most fresh before that date, but is still edible after it. Usually thee will be placed on long-life items such as cereal or certain sweets and crisps.
To stay safe, avoid products after their use-by date as they could be a risk – particularly meat and dairy.
Get discounts by “abandoning” your online shopping basket
If you exit a supermarket website while your basket is still full, they’ll usually email you with a discount to try and pull you back in with 10% off or more.
Try adding an item to your basket, without purchasing anything, and see if they email you – but make sure you’re logged in with the account that you’ll purchase from – and the one attached to your own email.
Make a list
Like we said at the start, if you don’t have a list you will be tempted to stray.
Make a list of meals for each day, what you’ll need and work out your budget.
- Do I need it?
- Can I afford it?
If the answer is no to any of the above – don’t buy.