Some people see grocery shopping as a monotonous chore, unaware of the wild, dangerous adventure it really is.
That’s no grocery cart — it’s an abandoned mine cart you’re pushing through dark tunnels filled with treasures such as laundry detergent and Chex Party Mix.
That folded-up piece of paper in your hand is no shopping list — it’s an ancient codebook that you’re using to discover rare artifacts, such as cartons with fewer than three broken eggs.
And the check-out clerk? That’s a … well, a check-out clerk. But if you ask really nicely, you can convince them to pretend to be ancient guardians of the lost temple of Safeway, willing to let you pass through the posts they’re manning only if you can answer the confounding riddle: “Paper or plastic?”
Not feeling it? Thinking I’m a dork? Try out these money-saving shopping tips and maybe you’ll change your mind.
Decode the hidden hieroglyphs.
Slide out the price cards on the racks. Store workers often tip you off to coming sales by slipping cards with cheaper prices underneath. If your detective work reveals a future price cut, let the suckers buy the Cheez Whiz at the current price while you’ll come back and score the savings.
Use the magic keys carefully.
Magical cost-cutting talismans known as coupons can save you cash, but can also trick you into spending more by convincing you that you’re getting a good deal when you’re not. Keep in mind that coupons aren’t benevolent acts of charity from manufacturers trying to cut you a break. They’re marketing tools, much like shrinking, spike-filled rooms, meant to get you to subsidize ad wizards’ high-rolling lifestyles. Stick with the generics over the name brands unless you’re able to take advantage of an extreme coupon reality show-worthy exploit, such as triple coupon day or tacking discounts on to sales.
Consult the oracle at the top of the mountain.
Indiana Jones doesn’t stick to just one cursed temple in his movies, and nor should you remain loyal to one store. There are tons of apps out there that act as all-seeing soothsayers. Consult them to find the best deals of the week, then plan your shopping expeditions accordingly.
Romance the stone.
A way to score the best deals without having to travel red-dotted lines all over the map by hitting different stores is to take advantage of places that offer price matching. Some people price match by poring over the grocery ads, patching together binders that show all the best deals, but there’s no need to go to all that trouble when the store will do it for you. Just point to your milk and say you’d like to price match it. Some grocery store always has an obscenely cheap milk deal going in order to draw you into its clutches, and the check-out clerk will most likely be aware of whatever it is and give you the price he’s given the past 300 shoppers who asked for it.
Swing over the bottomless pit in the nick of time.
Memberships at warehouse wholesalers such as Costco and Sam’s Club are ways to score consistent savings, but there’s a way to recoup your fees. Just sign up for a membership, use it the entire year, then ask for a full refund a week or so before it’s set to expire. I have no idea why the warehouses hand you all your money back rather than a prorated amount, but I am not one to question its mystical wonders. Sure, you feel like a sleazebag for doing it, but you also feel kind of awesome. Such is life as an adventurer. Now grab your whip and fedora and be on your way.
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