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7 Sneaky Money Traps at the Grocery Store

Don’t fall for these supermarket tricks that are designed to make you spend more money than you originally intended to when you walk into a grocery store!

{If you’re trying to cut your grocery budget, be sure to check out these 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.}

supermarket tricks at the grocery store

Trying to save money on groceries?

If you know what you’re looking for, you can grab great deals at the grocery store. But it’s also easy to fall for popular supermarket tricks that are designed to make you spend more money than you originally intended to.

Next time you’re at the store, be on the lookout for these money traps!

7 Supermarket Tricks You Shouldn’t Fall For

1. Pre-cut and pre-portioned produce items — Grocery stores often cut, portion out, and pre-package produce items ahead of time. Pre-diced onions and peppers can be convenient and save time. But it’s often 2-3 times higher in price than it would be to buy the whole produce and prepare it yourself.

2. Impulse buys at the front of the store — Be careful about products that are placed strategically at the front of the store when you first walk in and at the checkout line. These are purposely placed there to make you impulse buy. Make a list ahead of time and stick to it.

3. Sales that aren’t actually a good deal — This is one of the oldest supermarket tricks in the book. It’s important to have a “buy-now” item price list for yourself. For example, I don’t typically buy cereal unless it’s under $2 per box. If you wait just a little bit longer, it will often go lower in price — especially when combined with a coupon.

4. Gift card deals — Many stores run deals where if you buy at least X amount of participating products, you’ll get a $5 gift card back to use next time. There are two things to consider with this kind of promotion:

  • Do you really need that many of that item? Will you actually use that many and is it a stock-up price that makes it worth buying right now? Many times you’ll end up buying extra items just to hit the amount you need for a gift card. And that $5 gift card is not always worth buying those extra items.
  • These deals are typically set up to where you can’t buy just over the minimum amount required for a gift card. For example, it might be that you have to buy $20 worth of items, but the items are priced at $4.99 each. If you buy 4 items, you’re only at $19.96. So you’d have to buy 5 of them to get the deal, making your total $25.95 just to get a $5 gift card back.

5. Buy One, Get One Free Sales — In many areas, these items will actually ring up 50% off instead of true buy one, get one free. The majority of people buy two items to get the “sale” price, but you can really just buy one item and get 50% off. So if you don’t need two, save the extra money and just buy one item at the discounted price! {Note: Some areas do ring up true BOGO, so be sure to read the fine print on the ad and know how your store rings up these sale items.}

6. End caps — Just like the impulse items at the checkout line, stores will put “sale” items on end caps to entice impulse buyers. A lot of times these really aren’t good deals. If you actually check out the prices on a different brand of the same item, it will be much cheaper.

7. Products grouped together — Another common trick that supermarkets use is to put related items next to each other. For example, high-priced cheese dip next to the discounted tortilla chips. Again, this encourages impulse buying. And if you check out the actual cheese dip section, you’ll probably find a better price.

Cut your grocery bill!

Want more tips on cutting your grocery budget?

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on your groceries, be sure to check out these posts:

And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE cheat sheet on 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.

Do you know of any other supermarket tricks designed to make you spend more money? Let us know in the comments!

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8 Comments

  • Lana says:

    Publix is a master at all these tricks and I have to be very careful every time I go in that store. Those Ibotta bonuses will make you buy things you don’t need and may not ever use.

    • Meg says:

      Yes! I live in an area where Publix is the main grocery store, so that’s where I primarily shop. I LOVE their customer service and BOGO deals, but they’re really good at getting you to buy overpriced stuff if you’re not careful and don’t know what a good deal is! -Meg, MSM Team

  • Archie Davis Jr says:

    I usually order online and I don’t have to deal with the end caps items and I just buy the items I need like Yogurt and Ground Turkey. The insight is great on this. Some end up spending more than they want to spend.

  • Susie says:

    Most grocery stores will list items at 10/$10 instead of $1 because people will see this and usually will by 10. The power of suggestion.

  • Kristin C says:

    Buy one get one sales on food items are my favorite. We have a local grocery store and Sprouts who do them periodically. I’d never pay regular price at these stores but bogo free is a good deal on things like cereal, granola bars, pasta and sauces, etc. Sometimes my mom and grandmothers will split the deals so we each get a bargain. Because no one needs two bottles of mustard, giant cottage cheeses, etc. lol!

    • Jordan says:

      BOGOs are a great way to get deals and splitting it between families is an even better way to extend the savings! -Jordan, MSM Team

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