Be prepared to have a quarter on hand before you go shopping.
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Aldi store front with a designed treatment in the background
Credit: Getty Images / Bloomberg

When you're looking for a budget-friendly grocery store with quality products, Aldi is the perfect option. With over 2,000 stores across 36 states, the German chain prides itself on selling "the best food at low prices," and states that "everything [they] do is purposefully designed to save people money." And one smart, money-saving design is requiring customers to temporarily pay to use a grocery cart.

If you've shopped at Aldi before, you'll be familiar with the practice. To use a grocery cart, customers insert a quarter into a slot on the cart, which releases it from the corral at the entrance of the store. When you're done shopping, you simply return the cart to get your quarter back. So how exactly does this save the store money?

Rather than hiring extra employees to collect grocery carts from around the parking lot, Aldi's website explains that the quarter system allows the retailer to save money. In turn, those savings help Aldi ensure their low prices for customers. Meanwhile, the quarter acts as an incentive for the customer to return their cart.

This simple practice is just one of the reasons Aldi is able to offer low prices (other things like primarily offering private-label products also help). For customers who might want to avoid the walk back to the store, there's an easy alternative: just look for a customer going in to shop! Then, you can trade your cart for their quarter and save yourself the extra steps (or get those steps in because walking has some great benefits).

And if you're worried about not having the right change on hand, there's another simple solution: designate a quarter specifically for Aldi trips. Whether you keep it in a special section of your wallet (so you don't accidentally spend it during another occasion) or in the cup holder of your car, you really can't go wrong. I used this trick when I regularly shopped at Aldi and it was always helpful (my quarter sat on the shelf next to my reusable shopping bags, so I could remember both). Etsy even sells adorable Aldi quarter-holder keychains to help you stay prepared.

So the next time you're shopping at Aldi, be sure to have a quarter at the ready.