If you sit down and think logically about your budget, you know that every dollar counts, yet when you get to the grocery store, you never seem to be able to resist the siren call of the snack aisle or the lure of the over-priced gadgets. Yet some people manage to cook and eat quite well on a shockingly low amount per week. Here are four questions that are often asked by those new to saving money while grocery shopping.

1. How can I stop picking up items I don’t really need?

There are a variety of techniques people use to wean themselves off impulse shopping, so if you need to do this, don’t give up hope. There are thousands, even millions of others struggling with the same impulses, and many of them have succeeded at reducing or stopping their impulse shopping.

First, create a small card that fits in your purse and has something motivating on it. This could be a miniature version of your budget, a drawn representation of what the vacation you’ll take with the money you save is, or a picture of someone or something that stops you from being impulsive. Some people find a quote or sentence works well, such as, “I’m proud that I don’t go shopping on impulses.” Put it in front of your debit or credit card so you have to see it when you go to pay.

Another technique is to create a grocery list before going to shop, and you have to refuse to buy anything that isn’t on the list you walk into the store with. This can mean you don’t save money on sales of items you need, but it saves you from purchasing items you don’t really need just because they’re on sale or a good deal.

You can try combining some of the most effective techniques until you find something that works for you. Just experiment with different impulse control techniques until you find the right ones.

2. What’s a need versus a want when shopping?

Does this item give you something you can’t live without? For example, if you don’t have it, will your quality of life genuinely suffer? If it’s a bag of snacks, it’s probably a want, but if it’s a new set of wooden spoons because your old ones have broken so they’re too short and you burn yourself on hot oil frequently, it’s probably a need.

To tell the difference between the two, force yourself to justify each purchase. Before you put an item into your basket or cart, stand there and think about three to five good reasons you absolutely need the item. For something like bread or lettuce, it should be easy to come up with reasons. For useless gadgets, things you’ll never use that are on sale, and other items you simply want, your guilt will kick in and remind you that it’s a want and not a need.

Some people take this too far and never treat themselves, but if you’re an impulse shopper, focus on cutting down on your spending. Once you have a firm control of your budget and your wallet, you can loosen up a bit and spend money on snacks and other wants now and again without going overboard.

3. How can I tell what’s a good deal?

If you’re serious about wanting to save, start a grocery price book. This is basically a compilation of the best price and sale prices for all the essentials you purchase. It sounds overwhelming and like it would be a lot of work, but it really isn’t. You can do it as a notebook or a spreadsheet, depending on your comfort and proficiency with technology, and update it just when you purchase an item.

For instance, if you update the prices of the essentials you buy on each trip, you’re only adding a few seconds to each stop at the shelves, or a few minutes at the end of the trip if you choose to keep a spreadsheet at home.

The page or spreadsheet layout doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make a note of the product name, brand, size, price, and the store you found it at. If it was on sale, make a note of that too, so you know what a good sale price is and isn’t. If you want to make it more complicated, you can keep track of different brands to see if no-name brands are cheaper, write down unit prices, and more, but this isn’t required.

You won’t have to keep the price book up for too long before you start to understand what the good deals are and aren’t; this is just a way to get your brain actively engaged and learning about the prices.

4. Are grocery flyer prices really that cheap?

They aren’t always, but they often are. The best way to find out is to keep a price book (see above), but if you don’t want to do this, you can still figure it out.

Often, the front and back pages of flyers are a good deal. The highlighted and largest items are typically “loss leaders” where the grocery store doesn’t make much money or even loses money, but they hope to make up for it by the other things they want to get you to buy.

The tricky part is that sometimes stores mix in non-sale items and make it look like they’re on sale or even raise the prices for a sale, and those who aren’t paying attention end up paying more than they otherwise would!

Keep track of what you’re paying if you want to know whether flyers are worth it. Smart use of them can save you a fortune, and uneducated use doesn’t do you much good.

Saving money while grocery shopping isn’t really that hard. Now that you know these basics, put what you have learned into practice in the grocery store aisles and you’ll find your grocery bill going down. Think about all the other things you can do with that money!