The winds of change\u2014it is blowing on the price tags of almost everything at the grocery store. Did you notice? Just last week, I was checking off my grocery list at my usual store when I had to do a double-take on the prices of cooking oil. It was RM32.90 at five litres when I could have gotten it at RM19.90 last year. I blinked and blinked\u2014nope, my eyes were not playing tricks on me. I stood there, wondering if should burst my budget and mark it as contingency spending or buy another brand of cooking oil I\u2019ve not tried before. Image credit: Pexels For many of us, shopping during a full-fledged pandemic causes anxiety; what more when it is coupled with price increase and smaller allocation for buying foodstuff and household items? Well, it just means that we have to make little adjustments when we go grocery shopping. Small changes, small savings and at the end of the month, quantifiable results! #1 Do the Math Image credit: Pexels Most of us know this, but we rarely put it into practice. When picking fruits, vegetables or meats, it pays to do simple calculations on how much it actually costs per unit size or per 100 gram\/100 millilitre. Knowing the unit price tells you how much something costs per item. Recently, I was looking to buy baby spinach. After scanning the shelf for a hot second, I narrowed it down to the two possible competitors\u2014both of them impeccably packed from two different countries. The cheaper option was from Australia, and the pricier option was from Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Both of them look like they're about the same size and weight. But just a quick check on the weight showed that the local option was cheaper per 100 grams. It is usually easier to discern when purchasing meats as you can find the unit price in small print under the main price. Or else, always remember to do the math because it can help you make better buys. #2 Head to the Bargain Section Image credit: Pexels I love the bargain section as it is the place for my creativity to shine. Cream cheese on half off? Looks like it is going to be cream cheese pasta tonight! What about a special meat marinade I\u2019ve never tried before going for RM2? Great to marinade proteins, pop into the oven and served with rice, mash or anything that I think may be suitable. When approaching the bargain section, one must remember that it is not buying the item because it is cheap but selecting one that can replace a meal that has been allocated in your list because it is more affordable. At my place, there are always different sodas going on 80% off, but that does not mean that I should get it. It is not part of my menu, though it is cheap. #3 List Down a Cap Price An item is only worth how much you are willing to pay for it. When creating your grocery list, jot down the max amount you are willing to pay for it and if the item is more than your cap price at the store, mull on how you can be flexible around the items you want to purchase. I do a quick Google search on what is the best replacement of X item for cooking Y. I wanted to do a Japanese dish the other day, and one of the ingredients I had to use was sake. When I found it, it was more than what I was willing to pay. The sales attendant looked at me and introduced me to an alternative he said many would buy instead of the sake I was looking at. Image credit: Pexels Then it struck me, \u2018Ah, a cheaper replacement!\u2019 I did a quick Google search, and I found that leftover white wine was a good sake alternative. Coincidentally, I did have leftover white wine at home opened two days earlier. Another way you can keep your cap price is to opt for house brands. This is common when it comes to buying off-the-counter medication. Just ask the pharmacist, and they will be more than happy to assist you. When shopping house brands, check the ingredients list against your branded item, and you might find that they have similar ingredients, good enough for me to make a swap and not pay for the branded item\u2019s advertising efforts. #4 Use E-Wallets Image credit: Pexels We should all be fans of cashless payments because it is quicker, safer and it details how much you spent in a particular store at a particular date. There is no running from it. There is no wondering what happened to that RM50 I withdrew from the ATM that day. Nope, just check your payment history in the app. You can save a trip to the ATM and have your spending accounted for. E-wallets can help you keep your budget when shopping, too. Reload your e-wallet to the capped expenditure for your shopping trip and take it as a challenge to keep within your allocated budget. These apps also give back by giving you rewards like points where you can redeem cash and discount vouchers. Time To Get Prudent With Money Skimping on purchases and setting a budget for your buys is not being a cheapskate, it is being prudent when it comes to money management. It is powerful to not be a victim of overspending because you got caught up with your emotions or you lost track of how much was spent. Image credit: Pexels Money management is not a talent, it is a skill you acquire when you build habits around tracking your spending and giving money its purpose. For many people today, finances are spread thin to cover needed expenses like bills, loans and other commitments. So the next time you head out to grab your home essentials, be sure to: \tIdentify what you want to buy \tCreate a budget with cap prices \tReload your budgeted amount to your e-wallet so you won\u2019t overspend Happy shopping! For more interesting stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!