Avoid Shock at the Supermarket Checkout Counter

Today it can cost more than $150 a week to feed a family of six.

If you’re finding that you’re spending more on groceries than you want to, consider employing these money saving strategies from Consumer Reports magazine.

  • Use coupons—wisely. A coupon won’t save you money if you’re buying the item just because you have a coupon. Look for stores that will double or triple your coupon’s value. While most coupons are provided in newspaper inserts, you can also download them at CoolSavings.com and SmartSource.com. But beware that you have to supply personal information—your name, address, city, state and zip, gender, birthday and e-mail address—to register.
  • Look at endcaps. The items stacked neatly at the end of the isles may catch your eye, but resist the temptation to put them in your basket until you evaluate whether they’re really discounted.
  • Eye level is at a premium. Have you ever searched for a bottle of shampoo and saw the most expensive brands were right at eye level? That’s because companies pay a premium to have them placed there. Look on the top and bottom shelves for better buys.
  • Say “no” to checkout temptations. Feeling hungry and thirsty after a grueling hour of comparing prices? Resist the temptation to reach for that 20-ounce bottle of soda and chocolate bar. They’re apt to cost more at the checkout stand.Feeling weak?Look for the “candy-free” aisle found at many grocery stores.
  • Pitfalls of shopper’s club cards. Critics say prices at stores that have shopper’s club cards are higher than stores without them. And there’s the privacy issue. Consumers often have to provide a name, address and telephone number to get a card, which means the store can track your buying habits. While stores maintain they use the information for marketing purposes, one doesn’t know whether the data collected—for example, one’s alcohol buying habits—could potentially be used against a consumer. Check your store’s privacy policy before you join a shopper’s club.
  • Avoid packaged foods and buy store brands whenever possible. Generics are typically produced by the same manufacturers that ultimately bear a brand name.