The truth is, we Singaporeans should be proud that we've given ourselves a reputation for being able to make the most of our often-limited finances.
But in all seriousness, there's a fine line between maximising your money and just being cheap. For example, there are better ways to save money when buying groceries than waiting until there are massive discounts and then buying canned food in bulk as if we were preparing for a post-nuclear apocalypse.
Here are three easy ways to save money when buying groceries that you can use every time you shop.
1. Don't just by the first brand you see
Believe it or not, there is a science to the way grocery stores are designed, and while the agenda may not be obvious to you, it's meant to make you spend as much as possible while you're buying groceries.
Every aspect of the layout of grocery stores is meant to entice you to buy not just in quantity, but also what they want you to buy. So the fresh fruits and vegetables are often hidden behind the ones that have been out for days, and the fresh milk that expires next week is hidden behind the carton that expires tomorrow.
But the most insidious strategy? It's how they stock their shelves. The brands that you see first on each shelf at your eye-level? They tend to be the brands with the highest prices or the highest mark-up. In other words, they're there to make sure you spend more.
The exception to this rule? Kid-friendly items. These goods, usually colourfully packaged with attractive designs, are place at the eye-level of children in order to con… vince them to make you buy it for them.
So don't just buy the first thing you see. Chances are the products in the lower shelves are of the same quality, just cheaper. For example, you'll often find house brand items there.
2. Write a shopping list, then buy only what's on it
This seems like common sense, but the truth is, human beings are generally wired to window shop. And merchants take full advantage of this, with even online stores prompting you with suggestions of other items to buy. As we mentioned above, grocery stores are often designed in such a way to draw your attention to items you weren't planning to buy, but were attracted to simply because it has eye-catching marketing or significant discounts.
The best way to avoid overspending without intending to? Make a list of everything you need before you enter the supermarket, and then head straight towards the items on the list. Don't spend too much time going aisle by aisle. Not only is it inefficient, you'll probably end up buying things you weren't planning to.
If you want to level up your grocery shopping skill, then get a good idea of the layout of your preferred grocery store or supermarket. Next, rewrite your shopping list so that you can buy your items in order, without too much walking. So traditionally, fruits and vegetables are the first thing you see, followed by meats and fish along the sides, and items like drinks and snacks often at the other end of the supermarket near the counters.
3. Use the best grocery credit card to earn rebates
Say you don't care much for the first two points of this article. You've already got your own grocery shopping style, and nothing I say is going to change that. You know what? That's fine, as long as you make this one change. Get the best grocery credit card that suits your needs, and you could already be saving up to 8 per cent without changing your grocery shopping habits at all.
For example, regardless of which is your preferred supermarket or grocery store, you can receive up to 8 per cent cash back when using the Citi Cash Back Card. It's Singapore's highest cashback rebate for buying groceries at the moment. Not only that, it also earns you 8 per cent cash back on dining and up to 20.88 per cent savings on petrol.
The only catch? You will need to spend at least $888 on the Citi Cash Back Card each month if you want to enjoy these high rebates. Also, after you've earned $25 in cash back for groceries each month, the cash back rate drops to 0.25 per cent for the rest of the month.
If you're interested in signing up for the Citibank Cash Back Card, you can apply here.
This article first appeared on MoneySmart
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