The end of the world is nigh...or at least that’s the impression if you happen to be shopping in supermarkets during the run-up to Christmas. They do open on Stephens Day, December 26th you know!

So for those shoppers thinking of the tasks ahead, John Lowe the Money Doctor has twenty useful tips to help us:

  1. Always shop with a pre-written grocery list. Stick to what is on the list and resist the urge to impulse buy.
     
  2. Check the cupboards before making out a shopping list - many shoppers buy items they already have in your cupboards, fridge or freezer.
     
  3. Create a daily list for updating. If you run short of tea, washing-up liquid, kitchen towels, these can be added to your main shopping list.
     
  4. Look for special sale announcements in your store, newspapers, radio and television. It may be worth your while buying a month’s supply of an item you would normally buy if you can avail of a huge discount.
     
  5. Shop only once a month for your non-perishables.This means you have to plan for the full month and should not overspend by additional visits to your local convenience store.
     
  6. Shopping at discount stores should not mean that you ignore generic products in the main supermarkets. Tesco, Dunnes, Supervalu, Centra & Spar stores, Lidl and Aldi all produce their own generic goods at considerably cheaper prices than the brand names.
     
  7. Buy direct when you can. All vegetables and fruit come from the land. If you have access to a local farm, buy directly. Apart from saving money, you will benefit from the fresh produce and glow in the knowledge you are supporting local enterprise.
     
  8. Grow your own. If you have a garden or a ‘plot’, try growing a few vegetables, or you could try growing your tomatoes in the house.
     
  9. Buy in bulk. Economies of scale apply, in particular to non-perishables (tins of beans) and toiletries (24 roll tissue packs). You will need to analyse your consumption to evaluate your bulk needs.
     
  10. Don’t buy bulk unnecessarily. A half a ton of nails at rock bottom prices might be fine if you are a carpenter. Special offers such as ‘3 for the price of 2’ might not suit your palate and the item could be out of date before you consume it.
     
  11. Use vouchers and cut-outs. You will be amazed how all those little discounts add up to big savings on your shopping bill; there is no shame in availing of these offers. You may even have a discount offer on the back of your shopping receipt. Watch out too for ‘double coupon’ days. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves!
     
  12. Avail of in-store discounts and special offers – simply by visiting your local store, you might come across a "loss leader" that you might have on your shopping list. 
     
  13. Shop online. This can be cheaper because impulse buys no longer apply. Delivery charges are negated by the cost of travelling to your supermarket and parking. Not to mention the latté! Check out www.buyersclub.ie, www.organicsupermarket.ie, www.cheapeats.ie, www.coeliac.ie, www.buymie.eu and www.goodfoodireland.ie  to name but six.
     
  14. Online discount websites – before you shop, you should spend a few minutes checking out some of the discount websites for economies not just on food. Check out www.dealrush.ie and www.groupon.ie.
     
  15. Check the date on all your purchases. No point in arriving home with out of date food fit for the bin. The same goes with food in stock – ensure that you consume foods that have been stored the longest and, of course, that are still safe to eat.
     
  16.  Avoid buying at the check-out and never ask for cash back. You are bombarded with chocolates, batteries, magazines etc. in that last-ditch attempt to lure the money from your wallet at the check-out before you leave the shop. Resist the temptation! Receiving cash back only increases the cost of your purchases as the cashback is soon frittered away.
     
  17. Bring your own bags to the store. There is a 22 cent environmental levy charge for every bag bought at the check-out used to carry your purchases. You could kill two birds with the one stone by buying bio-degradable and environmentally-friendly bags.  
     
  18. Avoid snacks after shopping.You have been shopping for an hour and you go to the store café for a coffee and a sit-down. Go home and put on the kettle.
     
  19. Don’t buy on an empty stomach. You often end up buying food simply because you are hungry.
     
  20. Bring your own lunch to work. Prepare your own roll or baguette and refill your water bottle, as long as the water is fit to drink from the taps. Water will soon be scarce, so use it wisely – never run the tap when washing up or brushing your teeth.

    Hope this help and enjoy the pre-Christmas prep!

For more information click on John Lowe's profile above or on his website.