Tue. Feb 18th, 2020


Stay Smart About Africa

Make Sure That Your Shopping Trip Doesn’t Cost You An Arm And A Leg!

Ever walked into a supermarket intending to buy only a few items, and ended up walking out with bags and bags of goodies, and a good few hundred Rand poorer? Granted, we have to eat, and for that to happen, we have to shop, but is there a way to shop smarter? Here are some shopping hacks that help you to keep your grocery bill in check:

  1. Avoid the bargains unless you regularly use the product and will benefit from buying it in bulk.  Did you know that when something is a bargain, we are drawn to buy it? Bargains, such as items on sale, or the “buy three get one free” appeal to our ancient hardwiring that takes us back to the cave days when we feared running out of food and other items vital for survival. If something appeared scarce, we took as much of it as we could lay our hands on. So a bargain or a special offer implies that it will be sold out soon, triggering us to stockpile. If you think you will really be able to use three of the particular item, go ahead and buy it, but if not, walk past and avoid the temptation.
  2. Walk past the trolleys at the entrance and take a basket if you intend to buy a few items only. Retailers place trolleys at the entrance of supermarkets on purpose, so that you are likely to grab one as you enter. So even if you intended to buy only a few items, the more space you have, the more likely you are to fill it up. And the more you will spend. 
  3. Avoid shopping when you are stressed, tired or hungry. After a frantic day at work, you stop at the supermarket on the way home to buy a few essentials and end up with chips, sweets and a host of other items that you didn’t plan to buy. It’s an old tip, but never shop when you are hungry or tired. You eat with your eyes and if you feel tired, you will gravitate toward the sweet stuff. If you shop when you are hungry, everything looks appetizing and that trolley fills up quickly. Rather shop when you have had a good meal, and can do it in a calm and organised manner.
  4. Leave the kids at home when you go shopping. Retailers have figured out long ago that kids wield immense power when it comes to buying stuff. TV and other media bombard little ones with advertisements enticing them to consume products, from cereals, to sweets to drinks. You can end up with tantrums and World War Three if you don’t give in to tiny people’s demands. Much better to do the shopping alone, and spend some real quality time with them in an enjoyable activity.
  5.  Make a shopping list and stick to it. Easy as it seems, it’s often tough and I find if I don’t have a list, I end up trying to remember what I need and then I am easily distracted along the way, and can end up buying a whole host of things I don’t need, whilst forgetting essentials that I actually need to buy.
  6. Go straight for what you need and avoid what’s along the way. Another trick that retailers use is to place all the essential items at the back of the shop (such as milk, bread, etc) so you need to walk through aisles of other goods to reach these essentials. Be aware of this temptation.
  7. Ignore the sweeties while you queue. There is nothing more boring that standing in the queue waiting to check out, and that sweetie aisle is strategically placed to entertain and entice you. With nothing better to do, you will you will pick up and look at items and a few will find their way into your basket or trolley. Be aware of this and avoid the temptation.
  8. Give the tasters a skip. Smells and good looking food are incredibly powerful and those little pop up stands where you are offered a taster of something delicious being cooked, is a great temptation to buy something you never intended to buy. How often have you tasted something, bought it because you felt obliged, and then never bought it ever again because it really wasn’t to your taste? Rather avoid the whole process and save some money.

Remember – no one has a bottomless pit of money, and we need to make each Rand work as hard as it can. Shop smartly, avoid waste and stick to your budget.  Simple changes can make a big difference at the end of the day!

Sylvia Walker is a financial expert, author of ‘smartwoman’ and a financial speaker. As a financial planner, she provides holistic financial solutions for her clients. She writes articles for various online publications and conducts workshops and keynotes on various aspects of money. She has a long history of working with major media in South Africa and is has been the resident financial guru on the Cape Talk Early Breakfast Show since 2016., on  is on air every Friday morning around 5.10am.