Do you plan before you shop? Always bring your loyalty or discount cards and vouchers with you when shopping? Check what’s in the pantry or fridge before you leave home? John Lowe the Money Doctor gives invaluable advice on how to shop smart in 2019 with 20 ways to shop smart this summer.

1. Always shop with a pre-written grocery list. Stick to what is on the list.

2. Check to see what you need before making out a shopping list - many shoppers buy items they already have in stock. Check your pantry/fridge!

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. 

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6. Don’t shop on an empty stomach! I need to reread this one myself.

7. Keep your shopping receipts. You should track your spending and compare prices … and some of those receipts offer discounts on your next shop or on certain items.

8. 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. 

9. 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.

10. 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. 

11. 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. Shop online. This can also 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!

12. Online discount websites – before you shop, you should spend a few minutes checking out some of the discount websites for economies e.g. www.groupon.ie, www.dealy.ie & www.voucherpages.ie. Using An Post’s Smart account card in Lidl, for instance, will get you a 5% refund in cash on your groceries.

13. Check the date on all your purchases before you buy. 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.

14. 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 cash back is soon frittered away.

15. Bring your own bags to the store. There is a 22 cent 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. 

16. Buy food with balance in mind. Food and drink should be based on a balanced diet. Eating pizzas and drinking Coca-Cola seven days a week is not going to do a whole lot of good for your diet. Plan your meals to reflect this balance.

17. 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. 

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18. 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 washing or brushing your teeth.

19. If you haven't got it, don't spend it -  or at least, if you do use your credit card, overdraft or borrow, know when and how you are going to pay it back

20. Don’t forget to take your loyalty points (STOCARD is a free app that will store all your discount cards on your smartphone)

Enjoy shopping and take your time!

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