The task of balancing your shopping list and the budget is always daunting. Those of us with big families and young children know what I’m talking about. Tackling the grocery list is usually the trickiest.
I figured most of my readers, whether they have big families or not, go shopping every now and then, so I wanted to share some of my favourite shopping tips. These are not original tips, but I have compiled the best from the plethora of tips published in magazines and websites.
1. Recite the dua for entering the market
‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, alone, without partner, to Him belongs all sovereignty and praise. He gives life and causes death, and He is living and does not die. In His hand is all good and He is over all things, omnipotent.’
It is narrated in the hadith:
“Whoever recites the above dua after entering the market, will receive a million rewards, one million sins of his shall be forgiven, his rank will be raised by a million stages and (in some narrations) he will receive a house in Jannah” [Ibn Majah]
A good friend of mine swears that every time she recites the dua while shopping, she finds the most unbelievable deals for the items she really wanted! Recommended reading for kids: Sheema’s Shopping Spree
2. Have a list ready of what you need
Keep in mind that the stores are bent on making you spend every penny that you have. They trick you in ways you can’t imagine (ever noticed the sale items are always at the end of the aisles? This way you never miss them – even if you don’t need it!).
In Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, Paco Underhill writes:
Supermarkets are places of high impulse buying for both sexes — 60 to 70 percent of purchases were unplanned, grocery industry studies have shown us.
More than half of all grocery purchases are unplanned! Create a list and stick to it, and this way, you can cut the unnecessary grocery costs. Having a list will also ensure you make one large trip, instead of several small ones.
3. Hungry? Then now is NOT the best time to shop
When you’re hungry, everything will look good and you will end up buying all kinds of unnecessary junk. PsychologyToday.com has proved this theory right:
“Researchers injected participants with either ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, or a saline solution. Then they created their own little eBay in the laboratory, asking participants to bid on both edible treats and non-food items. While participants were contemplating their choices and calculating their bids, the researchers were observing their brain activity in an fMRI machine.
Grehlin had a specific effect: it increased what participants were willing to pay for food, but decreased what they were willing to pay for everything else. The brain’s reward system was also more responsive to the food than other goodies. It was as if the hunger hormone biased the brain toward craving calories, and dampened the appeal of any other reward.”
4. Handy Halal / Haram ingredient list
Ever wanted to try a new brand of ice cream, but couldn’t figure out if it’s halal? Keep a list of halal / haram ingredients in your wallet. Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) has a brief shoppers guide printable that you can find here
Allah has said:
“O people! Eat of what is in the earth, Halal and Pure, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, for you he is an open enemy.”[Quran: Chapter: 2, verse168]
“Eat of that which Allah hath bestowed on you as food lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah in Whom ye are believers.” [Quran: Chapter 5, verse 88]
It also appears in the hadith that the duas (supplications) of a person whose diet is Haram may not be accepted by Allah . If our diet is Haram, our calls and requests to Allah could go unheeded! (May Allah protect us. Ameen)
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Allah the Almighty is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the Messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O Messengers! Eat of the pure things and do right”. And Allah the Almighty has said: “O you who believe! Eat of the pure things We have provided you.” Then He mentioned (the case of) a man who, having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the heavens (saying): “O Lord! O Lord!” — while his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered!” [Muslim]
5. Look through flyers and coupon booklets
Most stores in Canada are willing to price match, if you find the same product elsewhere, but cheaper. Two useful websites for Canadians to keep track of deals are http://smartcanucks.ca/ and http://www.redflagdeals.com/. Having said that, make sure that the coupons and deals don’t trick you into buying something that’s not on your list.
6. Buy in bulk whenever possible
Items that don’t have an expiry date can be safely stocked. Buy in bulk when they are on sale. You can also visit your local co-op stores (costco, sam’s club, etc) to buy bigger packages and save.
7. Don’t examine things you don’t need
J.D. Rott of GetRichSlowly.org mentions: The more you interact with something, the more likely you are to buy it, says Paco Underhill in Why We Buy: “Virtually all unplanned purchases…come as a result of the shopper seeing, touching, smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure, if not total fulfilment.”
Do you know why grocery stores place those displays in the aisles? To intentionally block traffic. They want to force you to stop, if only for a moment. It only takes a few seconds of idly staring at the Chips Ahoy! to convince you to buy them.
8. Stay alert at the cash register
Pricing for sale items is often not updated. So watch out for any mispriced items. Make sure to check your receipt before walking out. If there’s a problem, politely point it out. It is, after all, your (hard earned) money, so ask for it.
9. Use cloth grocery bags
Stores in Canada (Ontario, at least) charge you 5 cents per plastic bag. Cut back here and pull out your cloth grocery bag. Not only are you saving pennies, you are also helping the environment tremendously.