Six steps to make your grocery bills smaller

SHOPPING can be painful and expensive, but with these simple steps venturing into a supermarket doesn't have to be a budget-busting ordeal.

1. Shop without the kids

For most children shopping can be a drag at the best of times, let alone when you're shopping for those less exciting back to school supplies. And with nagging children in tow, the experience is not much better for the parents.

Do yourself and your children a favour and reduce the chances of giving in to impulse buying to satisfy complaining kids by shopping alone.

2. Facebook is your friend

Facebook is becoming a bigger part of the way we shop.

This is because retailers are fast realising the potential of social media to get their message across to the largest audience in the most cost effective way.

Often stores will post specials that appear purely on Facebook as a way to encourage people to like their page. They will also post updates about their latest stock and other related news and following a store on Facebook also allows you to become part of the conversation about products, discounts and even issues other customers might have with products.

Of course, when it comes to Facebook you can also rely upon your own friends for information by posting a question on your wall. People are quick to reply with their own advice or information about where to score a great bargain.

3. Compare prices

Whether it be perusing through catalogues at home or using smart phone apps such as Google shopper, RedLaser and Groupon in the palm of your hand, taking the time to compare prices is the good old fashioned way to save money on back to school spending.

You'll find a little bit of extra homework and more time browsing the isles will save you loads, particularly when it comes to competitive back to school bargains.

4. Be creative

Whether we like it or not, marketing plays a big part in what we buy for our kids.

A product that's attached to a popular brand or movie franchise is specially designed to appeal to children and usually comes at a steep price.

The good news is your kids don't have to miss out if you don't want to pay top price, with a bit of creativity going a long way towards saving money.

Simply buy the cheaper plain cover exercise books and get to work decorating them with cut-outs from your child's favourite magazine.

Not only does it save you money, but it can be a great way to spend quality time with your child while teaching them the rewards of doing something creative.

5. Set a budget

One common way to get caught up in excess spending is not to have a plan before you start.

Establishing a budget will curb the risk of impulse buying while having a plan of what you need and where to visit allows you to take a more direct approach to back to school shopping.

You will find that many schools provide an inventory of things a child will need for each subject at the start of the year so keep an eye out for that.

6. When to shop

It isn't hard to understand the reasoning behind this one.

When you're shopping while tired, hungry or with a limited amount of time you're more likely to make the first choice, rather than the best choice when it comes to back to school shopping.

While it might sound like common-sense, having something to eat and being well rested before you hit the stores will reduce your willingness to make impulse purchases and will also reduce the risk of making mistakes that will see you have to return to the store again.

Topics:  shopping

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