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If you are overspending, shopping with your spouse could be the reason. We spend 38 per cent more when grocery shopping with our partner, according to Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy.

We also spend 30 per cent more when we have our kids in tow. As anyone who has gone shopping with children knows, mini-carts and the placement of kid-friendly items at eye level are prime reasons we splurge on dinosaur-egg oatmeal and cheese strings.

Using a shopping cart isn't great for adults, either. Carts continue to grow in size because retailers know that the bigger the cart, the more we'll put in it. It's best to skip the four-wheelers and use a basket or, even better, your arms. If you're shopping for a family of five and need the cart, create a list and stick to it. Considering that up to 70 per cent of the groceries we buy are things we didn't originally intend to purchase, a list is crucial. Keep in mind that the most expensive items are at eye level. Take a peek at the shelves below eye level for better deals on similar items.

And when you're ready to check out, beeline it for the aisle without magazines or treats. The last five minutes before checkout, you are standing in the "zone of seduction," leading to more unnecessary impulse buys, as Mr. Lindstrom puts it.

Another reason to keep your items in your arms: It's hard to pick up chocolate-covered raisins and O magazine with your hands full of bread and milk.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group.

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