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Column — Diane Miller

Smart shopping at the grocery store

    Out of all of the spending categories in your budget, you can exercise the most control over groceries and clothing because you make the decision on buying every item. Here are some tips for saving money at the grocery store.
    Never go into the grocery store without a list. If you do, you are much more likely to buy impulse items and other things you do not need. Get to know the store you use the most, and list the items you need in order of where they are in the store.
    Buy fresh fruit and vegetables when they are in season. For example, instead of buying blueberries in winter months and paying for the shipping and import fees, buy them in the summer when they are more likely to be grown nearby. You’ll get a fresher product and hang on to more of your money. Your local newspaper’s food section usually features articles and recipes on seasonal items.
    Use coupons to save money on items you usually buy anyway. Conversely, do not buy items just because you have a coupon if you wouldn’t normally buy them. And make sure that what is shown to be on sale is really a bargain for you.
    Don’t be a brand loyalist. Consider buying the store brand instead of the national brand. If you compare ingredients, you’ll often find no difference between brands.
    Use the unit price to compare costs. The unit price is how much the item costs per ounce, pound or other unit. The largest size of an item is not always the cheapest. You can find the unit price on the shelf sticker.
    Paying attention to how you shop at the grocery store can help you to get more for your food dollar. Saving a few dollars each trip to the store may seem to be more trouble than it is worth. Those few dollars each week can add up to a lot of money in a year or two.
    For more shopping information contact Diane at (912) 871-0504, dianem@uga.edu, or www.ugaextension.com/
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