Learning how to shop smarter is crucial when you are on a budget. At the end of the month, after you have met your financial goals, you may just have some leftover money to make an additional payment on a loan or to squirrel away. Follow these ten money-saving tips to avoid overspending on items you purchase.
How To Shop Smarter
1. Create a Budget
The first thing you need to do is create a budget. In order to avoid overspending, you must know how much money you can afford to spend on various things. Make sure you deduct money for all the bills and loans you have. Then, set aside some for variable expenses and savings. Think about items that you need or want to purchase and put aside money for those.
Use the free Monthly Budget Worksheet below to get you started!
2. Write A List
Always have a list when you go shopping. Trips to the supermarket can quickly spiral out of control when you don’t have a guide to follow. Back in my university days, I can’t tell you how many times I went to the supermarket and surveyed my cart at the checkout, only to realize I had no actual food in there. Lots of snacks but nothing nutritious. And I spent a fortune!
A list is not just great for grocery shopping. If you need decor for your home or new clothes for your kids, write down those items and stick to the list when you go to purchase them.
3. Wait For Sales
Now that you are armed with your list, plan and wait for sales to come around. This is a great way to shop smarter especially when you need big tickets items like appliances. You can often get huge discounts off the original cost.
4. Shop Online
Online shopping is so convenient! You can find items that may not be available in-store and you can take advantage of deals that are sometimes exclusive to online customers. Your purchases are delivered straight to your house. What’s not to love? See 5 Ways To Save Money While Shopping In Your Pyjamas to get some great tips about how to save when online shopping.
Exercise caution when shopping online, though. Make sure you stick to your list and after the transaction is complete, pay off your credit card before the due date to avoid interest fees.
5. Out Of Season Shopping
If you need seasonal items like Christmas cards, purchase them out of season. When you wait until the actual holiday or season, prices are way higher than during the rest of the year. If you can find what you need before the seasonal period, get it to avoid paying those premium costs.
6. Avoid Wandering
You have your list so just get those items and go! Wandering around the supermarket or mall is the worst thing you can do especially if you have low willpower. Inevitably, you will see something that peaks your interest and it will seem irresistible. Don’t torture yourself. Once you have the items you initially went to buy, leave the store.
7. Spending Less Is Not Saving
Don’t confuse spending less with actually saving money. Just because there’s a buy-one-get-one special being offered does not mean you need to purchase that item, unless you need it. When you encounter specials or sales, ask yourself the following:
- Do I actually need that item?
- Is it good quality?
- Do I have space for it at home?
If the answers to all of those questions are no, walk away.
8. Eat First, Then Shop
Grocery shopping when you’re hungry is a big no-no. Everything in the supermarket looks delicious and your rumbling belly lowers your ability to ignore the yummy pastries and that golden rotisserie chicken that’s just calling your name.
Shop on a full stomach so you’re less tempted by items not present on your list.
9. Avoid Convenience Items
Retailers know that we love fast, easy options and they willingly supply them. But convenience comes at a premium cost. There are always hidden fees associated with quick and easy. The chopped or pre-cooked food at the grocery store is way more expensive than if you just spent the time preparing it yourself. Why buy pricey bottled water when you can fill up a reusable bottle at home? (It’s better for the environment too!) Avoiding convenience items is another way to shop smarter.
10. Go Solo
I’m sure you have gone grocery shopping with your kids or taken a trip to the mall with a gal pal for a new outfit. At some point, did you feel pressured by your kids whining for a snack you didn’t intend to buy or your girlfriend insisting that you looked better in the more expensive dress?
Sometimes, it’s just better to go shopping alone. If you can’t avoid company, tell your children that they are only allowed to choose ONE snack that’s not on your list (or none at all if you’re really strict). Let your friends know upfront what your budget is for the shopping trip so they know to avoid clothes outside of your price range.
Sticking to a budget can seem tricky but with these ten tips, you can easily shop smarter and save.