in-store shopping

Shopping in-store can be frustrating, tedious, and expensive, especially if you have a large family, which is why some of us decide to shop online instead. Though it’s possible to shop for everything online, some of us would rather go out and shop at our local stores for groceries, toiletries, electronics, and other items, but how can we save the most money by shopping in-store?

Below is a list of 10 different ways that can help save you money the next time you go out shopping!

1) Shop at multiple stores, but keep the cost of gas in mind

I wouldn’t recommend doing this all the time, but it does help if you have coupons for different stores that offer the same item for less money. If you don’t drive, then this won’t apply to you. If you do drive, then consider being able to save over $900 per year just by shopping at multiple stores!

You will need to consider these simple rules to save money by shopping at multiple stores:

  • Measure the distance to each store or simply plan your route using google maps or mapquest. Mapquest is great with customizing and rearranging your destination stops. Don’t forget to start at your home and end at your home.
  • Find out what your gas mileage is (use city mileage).
  • Estimate how much you will save on each item (whether a different store is selling the same item for less or if you have coupons to use).

Example: My friend’s car gets 17 mpg in the city, and he’s using city mpg because he won’t be driving on the highway. He wants to go to Stop & Shop, Best Buy, and Walmart. After entering his ‘stops’ in mapquest, it calculated that the total distance between starting at his home, shopping at multiple stores, and then going back home is only 14 miles. Just going to Walmart and back home was 12 miles. It’s great having multiple shopping centers all located off of one major street!

He estimated that he will be saving a total of $20 on groceries by looking at items that were on sale in this week’s newspaper and by using coupons that he cut out from the newspaper and printed online. He drove 14 miles round trip, his car gets 17 miles per gallon (city), and gas is only $2.50 in his area, so how much did he really save?

  • Take how far he drove and divide that by his gas mileage (14 total miles driven/17 miles per gallon = .82, or 82% of his 17 mpg was used on this round trip).
  • To replace the gas that he spent, he would need to spend $2.05, which is calculated by the total miles driven multiplied by the cost of gas then divide by his mpg (14 x $2.50 / 17 = $2.05).
  • Subtract the gas total from his total savings, and he still ended up saving $17.50 by shopping at different stores ($20 – $2.05 = $17.50)!

Compare that to just going to one store:

  • 12 total miles driven/17 miles per gallon = .70, or 70% of his 17 mpg was consumed just by driving to one store.
  • Multiply gas consumed by the cost of gas (per gallon) .70 x $2.50 = $1.76
  • He saved almost .30 cents on gas, but he could’ve saved $17.50 if he went to different stores that offered the same items on sale (or coupons).

If he could save $17.50 each week by shopping at different stores, then he could save over $900 per year ($17.50 x 52)! Can shopping at multiple stores be worth it? You bet!

2) Plan your route accordingly

This relates to the previous method. If you have to go to more than a few stores to get your shopping done, then you should have a plan. It drives me insane watching people drive like a hamster on coffee because they shop impulsively. Plan the fastest and shortest route (no, they are not the same thing) from each store and back home. Try to avoid having to turn left on a busy street that doesn’t have a light. The UPS and FedEx does this very well. This technique won’t work if you use up too much gas while waiting in traffic, which reminds me, don’t go shopping during rush hour!

3) Shop weekly, not daily

This ties into hint number 1 and 2. Don’t impulsively shop! This is a huge waste of gas, and since gas prices are always going up, you should seriously consider making a weekly list first and shop in the morning or late at night to avoid traffic and long lines in the supermarket.

4) Avoid afternoon weekends

The best time to shop for groceries is either early on the weekend morning or late at night. Before you decide what the best time to go out is, you might want to check with a manager to see when they stock up. It’s best to go shopping when produce is at its freshest. This allows you to avoid getting stuck in traffic due to rush hour, school buses, and all the other little things that irritate us during traffic. The busiest time to go shopping is on weekend afternoons. If you don’t like waiting in line just as much as I do, avoid this time like you would a porta potty.

5) Don’t shop on an empty stomach

Do you ever notice that everything smells and looks better when you’re hungry, and do you seem to buy things that you don’t need or even like? That’s your body craving food. If you’re out of food by the time you need to go shopping, try drinking water or filling up on a small snack. It’s better than shopping on an empty stomach and buying everything you see!

6) Ask the sales associate for either a discount or a price match

This method doesn’t apply to grocery shopping, but it does apply to stores that hire sales associates (especially if they are on commission). It may be annoying to deal with, but ask them for a discount, especially at the end of each month. Some sales associates have to make a certain number of sales at the end of each month. If they are desperate enough to make a sale, then they will offer you a discount, especially when you show interest in a product. I would recommend you be on your best behavior and treat them nicely! They might give you a small discount, but it’s better than nothing!

You can also approach a sales associate and ask them if their store offers a price match guarantee. If you find the same product at a different store that is selling that same item for a lower price, then the sales associate will charge you the lower price. For example, I went to Best Buy last year to buy a vacuum. When I saw that the vacuum was $50 cheaper at Walmart, I showed a sales associate Walmart’s price on my smartphone, and the Best Buy sales associate printed out a custom price to match Walmart’s price of the vacuum.

I also did this with a rechargeable battery pack I found on Amazon a few weeks later, and I ended up saving at least $70 between the vacuum cleaner and the rechargeable battery pack. The only thing you should know about price matching is that not all companies offer price match guarantees, and the ones that do only price match their products with other companies. For example, Best Buy wouldn’t price match a product on eBay, but they would price match their products on Walmart. In addition, some companies do not offer price match guarantees on every item. Using Best Buy as an example, you can view the details about their price match guarantee on their website.

7) Use self checkout when possible

This doesn’t mean that I want you to steal from a company and ‘forget’ to scan multiple items. If you are constantly scanning your items, then you know how much you are spending. You are more likely to stop buying items at a certain amount than someone who has no idea how much they are spending on groceries until after checkout. Self checkout also makes it harder for you to scan the area and buy some candy or soda because you’re waiting for the cashier to scan your items.

8) Bring the coupons

A lot of companies like to send ads out in the local newspaper, especially on Sundays. If you don’t get these ads, you might be missing out on a lot of savings. Another option would be to check online for manufacturers and other types of printable coupons! Check out, and other online printable coupon websites.  Printing out coupons works, though you might have to manually enter the code sometimes, but it’s definitely worth trying!

9) Bring cash only

If you only bring cash with you, then you will more likely stick to your budget. If you bring a credit card, then you will most likely spend more money. The thought is this, “I really want that bottle of wine, but I don’t have enough cash for it. Well, it’s a good thing that I have this handy dandy credit card!” Shoppers always spend more money when they bring credit cards, because unless they have maxed out their credit cards, who is going to stop them from using it?

10) Bring someone with you

If you shop alone, then you are more likely to spend more money than you would shopping with someone else. The reason for that is no one can stop you from buying things you don’t need. My advice would be to bring a friend or family member that will prevent you from buying things you don’t really need.

For example, if I went shopping for groceries by myself, then I would most likely buy the more expensive brand of bacon and steak. If I brought my wife, then she wouldn’t allow it, and I would have to listen. Sometimes, I would like to buy something whipped, but she would stop me from making that kind of purchase, too. On the other hand, if she were to go shopping by herself, then she would most likely spend $20 over our budget. However, when I’m there, I make sure that I constantly remind her of our budget and let her know what we don’t really need. I refer to this as checks and balances!


Do you consider yourself to be a shopping guru? Can you think of other ways to save money by shopping in-store? Which stores offer the most/least savings? Which method do you think is the most/least effective? Do you prefer to shop online or in-store? Which places/websites do you find the most coupons? What do you think the biggest mistake someone can make is when they go out shopping?