4 Tactics I Use to Save Money at Trader Joe’s

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  • Though I only shop at Trader Joe's about once a month, I can easily spend a lot when I go.
  • I've been using tricks such as making a list and budgeting for impulse buys to reduce my spending and avoid food waste.

All of these really help.

The fact that my closest Trader Joe's supermarket is about 30 minutes away is both a good thing and bad. It's bad because I love Trader Joe's and wish I had one closer. But it's a good thing because my love of Trader Joe's could easily lead me to overspend and rack up a hefty credit card tab.

In fact, in the past, I've really busted my budget in the course of my Trader Joe's shopping. Now, when I do my monthly Trader Joe's run, I manage to spend less by employing these four tricks.

1. I read the Fearless Flyer before I go

When I walk the aisles of Trader Joe's, I'm often lured in by new products I've never seen before. And that sometimes leads me to scoop them up without fully reading the description.

Now as much as it pains me to ever say anything remotely bad about Trader Joe's, I have, in the past, purchased items on a whim that I haven't really loved. So now, I make a point to read the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer before hitting the store. It includes full product descriptions so I know exactly what I'm getting -- and which items I should skip.

2. I make a list

There are certain Trader Joe's staple items I like to buy every time I visit the store. For example, Trader Joe's makes a veggie burger I could eat multiple times a week in a pinch, so that's something I like to stock up on.

I find that it helps me to make a shopping list before hitting the store so I can focus on the things I need, and spend less on the things I simply decide I want on the spot. Also, while Trader Joe's isn't my usual store for things like fruits and vegetables, if I'm running low on those items and happen to be going there, I'll grab some to avoid a second trip to my nearby supermarket. That's a way to save on gas.

3. I take inventory at home first

Those veggie burgers I like so much? While I try to maintain a decent supply, I don't need 20 boxes at once. And so I make a point to take inventory at home before heading to Trader Joe's to avoid purchasing items I already have plenty of.

4. I budget for impulse buys

Because Trader Joe's tends to introduce new, seasonal, and limited-time products, I pretty much always buy something there that I hadn't planned on initially. Rather than fight that, what I do is budget a certain amount of money for what I call "Trader Joe's temptations." That actually helps me spend less, because instead of just recklessly throwing 17 new items into my shopping cart, I'll limit myself to the four or five my budget allows for.

It's easy enough for a person like me to spend way too much money at Trader Joe's. But these tips have actually helped me curb my spending while shopping there, and they might help you as well.

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