Food prices still seem to be going up faster than the average inflation rate, and, well, we’ve all got to eat. Here in the UK we don’t really have the supermarket coupon culture that you find in the United States – instead we mainly have special offers. If you want to cut your grocery bills, you have to look out for them.
They tend to be in the form of ‘buy one get one free’ (the classic BOGOF deal), or more recently ‘buy one get the next one half price’ or ‘buy two and get the third one free’ have predominated. In addition there are straightforward money-off deals for single purchases, and supermarket ‘points’ as part of reward schemes. They change frequently and it’s increasingly hard to keep up to date with them.
I’ve been using price comparison sites for several years to combat the almost ridiculous amount of information overload, and the service that’s stood the test of time the best is MySupermarket. It’s free to sign up and use, and I’ve been a customer since they started. They cover the big five online supermarkets – Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado – plus shops like Boots etc, and they’ve recently had a bit of a revamp and added some new features.
My personal favourites are the Savvy Buys and Price Alerts, as these are where I’ve saved the most cash. They also easy to use and they save time and hassle.
The Savvy Buys are the top offers which are automatically flagged up on the site at times when you can save more than 30% on the average regular price of particular items. The historical data they use is a real eye opener about supermarket pricing fluctuations. Alongside each product there’s also a pricing graph, showing you average prices over the past year, so you can easily see just how much of a deal you are getting.
They’re marked with a green thumbs-up Savvy Buys symbol and can be seen throughout the site. Fans of the bargain bin like myself can also take a regular peek at the Savvy Buys ‘shelf’ where all similar deals are grouped together.
The Price Alerts are very handy as well, giving you the option to place a selected note on your favourite products. When the price drops significantly, the site sends you an email notification. It’s easy to set up and it’s easy to switch off too. This sort of thing is ideal for saving on branded non-perishables that you can stockpile: your favourite toothpaste, laundry detergent, toilet rolls, pet food, nappies, spirits and so on.
There are four other new features that you might find useful:
- Swap & Save – automatic suggestions are given when you could find a similar product for cheaper, with a clear representation of how much you could save by swapping to the cheaper option. This is good for those occasions when buying two smaller packs works out cheaper than buying the large pack – it’s not that rare an occurrence, and it’s a case of buyer beware. Different brands may be suggested to you, which you may or may not like, but the bottom line is that it could save you money.
- Split Shop – once you’ve filled your shopping basket, this hidden feature may automatically spring into life. If it’s calculated to be cheaper, the system will suggest that you split your shopping between two or more online shops. I haven’t used this function yet, but if it turns up for you then please let me know how well it works.
- Cashback – this is now being offered on specific items, and is exclusive to MySupermarket. Cashback works differently from other discounts and offers: you purchase the items in the usual way on the site, then the cashback money is paid into your nominated PayPal account later after a delay of about one month. If it’s stuff that you were going to buy anyway, you might as well collect the cashback on it.
- Saving centre – at the checkout, this feature shows you exactly how much you saved on your shop, and how and where you made the savings. This is mainly there for the feel good factor, but it’s also a handy reminder of the savings you can make by shopping around and making the most of offers.
Have you used MySupermarket before? What are your opinions on these new features?