Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Extra Cash for Holiday Gifting and Other Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping

Extra Cash for Holiday Gifting and Other Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping

I may never set foot in a grocery store again. Yes, I know. Never is probably not realistic, especially when it comes to buying food, one of life’s absolute necessities. So I wax a little hyperbolic. Forgive me. I have finally been relieved of one of my most loathed housekeeping chores and I am just so flipping excited! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I will only ever have to darken the doorways of any brick and mortar grocery retailers on rare occasions, and probably only for quick small purchases. Boom!

But wait, there’s more! Not only will I save time, I will save tons of money. I’ve been using the online grocery shopping app offered by my local grocery chain for four weeks now and, surprisingly, I have saved an average of 50 bucks a week, even after factoring in service fees. Boom, bam, baby! If this trend continues—and I can’t foresee any logical reason why it shouldn’t—I will have saved $2600 over the course of a year. So, in these waning three weeks before Christmas, I will have around $150 more to spend on gifts. Cue the celebratory marching band ‘Boom! Bam! Ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-Boom!’

Before online grocery shopping was a thing, I often fantasized about having someone else do the dirty work of getting my groceries for me. That’s how much I hate grocery shopping. For many years only the wealthy could afford the luxury of hiring a personal shopper. And, until very recently online grocery shopping meant jacked up prices and hefty delivery fees. Now, with the handful of recently launched “online ordering pickup services” (that is, online/app-based grocery ordering through major supermarket chains with curbside pickup at hometown stores), having someone else shop for us is finally within reach for many of us average Joes and Janes. Some stores even offer this service for free. The service that has just become available at my preferred local store charges $4.95 per order, which has proven to be a relatively small investment with a fairly large return. Imagine that! Spend a little to save a lot.

Disclaimer: I’m probably one of the world’s laziest shoppers. I don’t comparison shop. I don’t study sale flyers for price match opportunities. Heck, I don’t even read sale flyers. I don’t drive across town to get the cheap milk at the discount store. I don’t always follow a list. I buy pre-chopped, pre-sliced, and pre-portioned convenience foods because, well, they’re convenient. In my world, too often, convenience trumps low prices. I am not a couponer—unless you count choosing the giant bag of pita chips over the smaller bag because it has a $1 off coupon attached to it. Never mind that the big bag costs $2.50 more than the small bag. I can’t even take a moment to consider that because I’m too busy chasing my 4 year old, who just knocked over a tower of Honeycrisp apples, up and down Aisle 3. If I remember to tear that coupon off the package and hand it to the cashier at checkout time, that’s what I call ‘extreme couponing.’ So maybe it’s not so much sheer laziness as more of a harried mother’s coping method, born out of spending the last four years grocery shopping with a very active little boy who considers going to the supermarket a form of cruel and unusual punishment. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The point of my embarrassing confession is this. While I have clearly saved a lot of money by doing very little, I feel it’s my duty as a would-be adviser on penny pinching to let you know that you have the potential for even greater savings.  A recent Time Money article suggests you could save a bunch more on groceries than I have, up to $3900 annually, by following their 29 money saving tips. To which I say, Twenty nine. Ugh! Waaaay too much work for this lazy—er, harried mama—shopper. Or is it? A closer look reveals that the majority of the recommendations are either facilitated marvelously by shopping from the comfort of home or rendered moot by it. Below are those tips, paraphrased and annotated.

1.Know what’s in your pantry and fridge so you don’t end up spending money on stuff you already have. . . . You can easily assess your inventory at home while creating your online grocery list at home.

2.Plan meals based on what’s on sale. . . . My app* will track what you’ve bought previously and what’s on sale and will make recommendations accordingly.

3.Plan meals based on what’s already in your pantry. . . . See #1.

4.Buy groceries only once a week. . . . See #1 and #3. Being able to look at what you actually have at home while you’re shopping makes it more likely that you won’t forget anything and end up having to make multiple trips to the store.

5.Swap out expensive items for lower cost alternatives. . . . Searching for items on my app generates a list with multiple brands and choices.

6.Stock up when prices are lowest. . . . On my app, sale item listings also show what the regular price would be.

7.Don’t get sucked into sales that require you to buy a certain number of items for a certain price (e.g., 10 for $10). . . . Basically moot. While my app will inform you about items that are on sale, there are no flashy displays or signs seducing you into buying more than you need as there are in stores.

8.Use digital coupons . . .

9.. . . and only use them when they actually save you money. . . . With my app you can easily load digital coupons to your loyalty card and the app will automatically apply the coupons to your online order if you buy items for which you have coupons. With this “load ‘em and forget ‘em” system you will minimize the common tendency to let coupons steer you toward buying things you might not otherwise buy, such as expensive name brand products that cost more than store brands you usually use.

10.Stock up according to how often your most consumed/favorite items go on sale. . . . See #2.

11.Shop most often at one store and take advantage of their loyalty program. . . . My favorite store’s loyalty card and the online shopping app are intimately connected, making this one easy, a no-brainer really.

12.Walk down the fewest possible aisles. . . . Moot.

13.Do not shop with kids, or anyone else for that matter. . . . Moot. Can I get an Amen?

14.Don’t shop hungry. . . . When you shop from home you really have no excuse for shopping hungry (unless you are shopping because you literally have no food at home).

15.Don’t let the store’s music lull you into moving slowly (i.e., spending more time in the store, which leads to spending more money). . . . Moot.

16.Use a small cart. . . . Moot.

17.Look for items on the highest and lowest shelves for lower prices. . . . Moot.

18.Use the self-checkout to reduce your exposure to tempting last minute impulse buys. . . . Moot.

19.Comparison shop within the store. Sometimes virtually identical items can be found in different sections for different prices. . . . See #5.

And so it goes. You don’t have to clip coupons to save lots of money. You don’t even have to be super organized or motivated. But for those of you who are willing to work a little harder to save even more, you can find the remaining ten tips at http://time.com/money/3481381/save-on-groceries/ Happy online shopping! 

 

*Note: Whenever it was necessary to mention the online shopping app I’m currently using I referred to it as “my app” in order to avoid sounding like a commercial. I am not a paid spokesperson for my local grocery store chain. I’m just sharing my experience here to help you save money.

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Comments 2

Frank on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 12:01

What delivery services have you used?

What delivery services have you used?
Alison on Saturday, 25 February 2017 11:33

Hi Frank! So sorry for the late reply. I actually did post an answer to your question ( I thought) back in December, but I just now noticed that it didn't show up here for some reason. I don't know what happened. Anyway, the service/app I've been using is Kroger ClickList, which is not really a delivery service. I order my groceries through the Kroger app and pick them up 'curbside' at a designated time. If you like WalMart, they also offer a similar service. I haven't tried it, but I have friends who have and seem happy with it. For my family, Kroger has been a better option. We've had a great experience thus far and they're in a more convenient location for us. Hope that helps, even after all this time.

Hi Frank! So sorry for the late reply. I actually did post an answer to your question ( I thought) back in December, but I just now noticed that it didn't show up here for some reason. I don't know what happened. Anyway, the service/app I've been using is Kroger ClickList, which is not really a delivery service. I order my groceries through the Kroger app and pick them up 'curbside' at a designated time. If you like WalMart, they also offer a similar service. I haven't tried it, but I have friends who have and seem happy with it. For my family, Kroger has been a better option. We've had a great experience thus far and they're in a more convenient location for us. Hope that helps, even after all this time.
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Monday, 16 September 2019

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