Special Report

Signs That You Spend Way Too Much Money on Food Shopping

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11. You buy groceries with a credit card

Numerous studies have shown that people nearly always spend more when they’re paying with a credit card than with cash. One estimate, from the marketing department at MIT, suggested that the difference could be as much as 100% — in other words, that the credit card shopper spends twice what the cash customer does, whether on groceries or anything else.

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12. You buy ready-made meals at the market

In 2016, Consumer Reports found that more than half of the nearly 63,000 subscribers they surveyed buy prepared meals at the market. Supermarket prepared-food had become a $29 billion a year business in America, they wrote. Such meals are very convenient, of course, and often offer healthier options than the fast-food place down the street (though CR did find that they were frequently high in sodium). But you pay for the convenience. The publication reported that four sample meals from four different chains all cost more than twice as much as the same meal would have if it had been made at home.

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13. You don’t use coupons

Supermarket coupons, frequently sponsored by manufacturers to introduce new products or stimulate sales, are a great way to save money. Published in newspapers, online, and in flyers, they typically offer substantial discounts or two-for-one deals. One study computed that marketers distributed coupons for food, drink, tobacco, clothing, and household items worth $470 billion last year, but consumers redeemed only $4.6 billion worth. Some people don’t like to use coupons because they associate them with lower socio-economic groups — but statistics show that shoppers with a college education and household incomes of $100,000 and up are twice as likely to use coupons as those at lower income and education levels.

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14. You don’t belong to supermarket loyalty programs

These programs are good and bad. The bad part, of course, is that using a market membership card means information about you is being tracked — what you buy, how much money you spend, what products you prefer, etc. But then Google and Facebook, and all those other things you can’t do without, compile data on you, too. And the good thing about loyalty programs is that, unlike Google and Facebook, they save you money, with pricing on individual items and sometimes overall discounts.

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15. You don’t coordinate food shopping with your housemate(s)

If you share your living quarters with somebody else, whether a roommate (or several) or a spouse or other family member, it’s a good idea to compare grocery lists so that two — or more — people don’t come home from the market with exactly the same things. (Check the refrigerator and the cupboards before you shop, too, to make sure somebody else hasn’t already bought what you were going out for.)

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