Online Grocery Shopping – Budget Friend or Foe?

online grocery shopping

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Before I dive into the meat of the blog, I have to ask – does anyone actually enjoy grocery shopping? For most people, it’s one of those chores that never goes away – like washing dishes. No matter how many times you do it, you always have to do it again.

Enter online grocery shopping! With as much fun as traditional online shopping is for many, it was only a matter of time before online grocery shopping took off. It’s convenient, it’s easy, and with so many stores now dropping off your weekly grocery haul to your front door – it’s a win-win! Or is it?

Online Grocery Shopping Pros

  • It’s contactless – No need to social distance, wear a mask, or worry about being around others.
  • Easy to check what you already have – Aren’t sure if you need eggs or butter, just open the fridge. Even if you make a list, there are items you always second guess and wonder if you need. Online shopping eliminates that.
  • No impulse buys – No more snack aisle temptations or check out surprises. You only shop for what you need  without the temptations to add the junk food.
  • You can remove items with ease – No more feeling guilty at the check out if you change your mind on an item. Sometimes we think we need or want something and by the time it comes to pay, we are already having buyer’s remorse but we don’t want to be rude and ask the cashier to put it back. With online shopping, simply remove the item from your cart.
  • It’s super convenient – It can take minutes to do your online grocery shopping vs. the hour plus it may take, and you can even do it while in your PJs. You save money on gas, don’t have to remember the reusable bags, and you can spend your extra time on something more enjoyable.

Online Grocery Shopping Cons

  • The fees can add up quickly – Not only are there delivery fees, but some stores also charge a service fee too. Why? Because not only do they have to bring your groceries to you, but they also have to do the shopping too. Convenience comes at a price.
  • Some items are more expensive – You may find that some items are more expensive online that you would find in store. From sale items being limited to missing out on clearance buys to everyday items costing more – make sure you know exactly what the costs to shop in store vs. online are.
  • You can’t pick out your own meat or produce – This is a big deal from many people. Think about how long you spend finding the perfect apples or exact cut of meat you want. You give up this control when someone shops for you.
  • You might not get everything you need – If a store is out of your favorite item, your shopper may skip buying the item for you OR they may substitute it with something you don’t want or a brand you don’t like.

Depending on where you shop, some stores offer both pick up and delivery options. You may be able to skip the delivery fee by picking it up yourself. If you choose to have your groceries delivered, don’t forget to factor in a tip as well. You tip the pizza delivery guy, right? So it makes sense to tip your grocery delivery driver as well.

Does online grocery shopping save money?

It can if you are the type of person who gets roped into impulse buys. If you constantly over-buy items you already have in the house, online shopping can also be cost effective. Paying a small service charge or delivery fee could be a small price to pay to prevent overspending by shopping in person.

The best way to look at online shopping vs. in person shopping is to see how much money you spend each week. If you average $150 a week in-store – impulse buys and all – deduct the delivery/service fees and tip from the $150, and that’s the balance you can spend online. If you find that you’ll save money by shopping online, then it makes sense to switch over. Not to mention you’ll save time too. However, if you find that your in-store purchases lack impulse buys or over-buying, and the delivery costs would put you over budget, then it makes sense to continue to shop in store to stay on budget.

At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for your lifestyle and your budget. Crunch some numbers, test out shopping online, and do what makes the most sense. You can always alternate online vs. in person some weeks when you just don’t feel like going to the store.

susan dickinson

Susan Dickinson
Vice President, Lakeville Manager
860.393.9171

Author: Susan Dickinson

Susan joined Litchfield Bancorp in 2004 as a branch manager in the Lakeville Office. She has spent her career in banking with over 33 years of experience. In 2007, she was promoted to retail banking officer and attended Leadership Northwest, which is a 1-year program of the Northwest Connecticut’s Chamber of Commerce. In 2010 she was promoted to assistant vice president. She is a graduate of the Connecticut School of Finance and Management’s two-year program on banking theory, practices, and procedures. Susan donates countless hours to the local community. She became and is still the president of the Tri-State Chamber in 2009, which has a main goal of connecting commerce with community and doing what we can to help and support the local businesses. She was voted in as a director of the Salisbury Rotary Club in 2008 and in 2009 voted in as a director of the Salisbury Rotary Foundation; she currently holds the positions of treasurer for the Rotary Club and Foundation, “Service above self”. Susan was awarded the “Paul Harris” Fellow award on May14, 2013. Susan and her husband, Edward resides in Falls Village, CT. Susan also received a “leader in banking award” this past year, 2015.