February 4, 2012

Ten Tips for Shopping Smart

Submitted by Ella Davidson

People are definitely counting pennies more than ever these days in an effort to make their monthly budget work. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that just about everything is on the rise. There are numerous ways to save on nearly everything from the large ticket items – such as furniture and electronics – to your daily groceries with just a little planning along the way. Here are ten tips that are designed to save you money regardless of what your shopping list entails.

1. Holidays

There is no better time to shop than around the holidays. The reason is quite simple – with the holiday season comes numerous sales. If you are in the market for a new car or a piece of furniture, you can save quite a bit by planning your purchase around a holiday. Do not settle for the first deal you encounter, take your time and do some comparison-shopping. As with anything, beware and read the fine print. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

2. Get in the Habit of Using Coupons

While most people know that they can save money by cutting coupons many people do not take the effort, which is a big mistake. Manufacturers offer these coupons as an incentive to get you to purchase their products. If the coupon is for something you buy regularly then it is worth taking the time. The average shopper can save as much as $20.00 to $30.00 per week using coupons. You can save even more by waiting until the store hosts a sale on the items. You may even get the goods for little to no cost.

3. Store Reward Cards

With the introduction of store rewards cards, you can now find one at almost any store. This does not necessarily mean you should get one for every store. You can save if you only use the ones that you visit on a regular basis. If this is a place you visit often then the rewards points will add up and can be used on future purchases such as gas or merchandise. Avoid collecting rewards cards, only sign up for the ones you plan to use.

4. Planning

Planning is a big part of saving. For example if you live in an area where there are several supermarkets you can use this to your advantage. While stores try to compete on the same items each week, often store vary their sales. This can be a winning situation for you. By planning and preparing a list of what each store has on sale you can set aside one morning and take advantage by hitting each of the stores for their deals. It takes a bit of preparation, research and time, but the savings can really add up.

5. Pay Cash

This is a habit that many people are now starting to get back into. By allocating a certain amount and preparing a list of the items you need, you can avoid overspending. It is proven that when a person has to pay for items with cash they are more apt to spend less. Credit cards and bankcards are too easy to misuse and even small purchases can add up over just a month’s time.

6. Avoid Impulse Shopping

Often easier said than done, you should refrain from buying anything on sheer impulse. Stores strategically place bigger ticket items near items that are on sale with one intention – to trigger the impulse shopper that lies within all of us. Avoid buying on impulse and your wallet will feel slightly heavier.

7. Stick to Your List

The first rule in any prepared shopping trip is to stick to the list. It is easy to get off track when you see an item on sale, but remember you are not saving if you are purchasing items you do not need. Another rule is to shop alone. Many times having a family member along will only help to fill the shopping cart with unnecessary extras.

8. Shop Yard Sales

Yard sales and second hand shops are finally getting some traffic. Do not rule out a good yard sale as a place to get something for less. Many times people discard things in an effort to remodel or simply de-clutter. Check for estate sales and yard sales in your area for basic home items. You may just walk away pleasantly surprised.

9. Take Advantage of End of the Season Sales

These are a great way to purchase items for the next year at a fraction of the cost. With these sales timing is everything. Hit these stores on the right day and you can literally walk away paying pennies on the dollar for most items as stores are trying to clear out excess inventory.

10. Buy Generic Brands

Buying generic brands can save you almost half the cost that you pay for brand names. Store brands are known to be just as effective and good as the big label brand. You can save a decent amount when shopping for generic brands because advertising is not fixed into the total cost.

Bonus: Shop Year Round for the Holidays

A person can really reduce the holiday stress level by shopping throughout the year. If you see something is on sale and someone in mind to gift it to, consider buying it at the moment. This will spread your spending out over the course of 12 months, rather than 12 days.

Anyone can save money when they shop, they simply need to shop smart. By implementing some legitimate shopping strategies, you will begin seeing the savings in no time at all.

Guest Post: This post was written by Coupons.org’s Ella Davidson. Coupons.org is a charitable couponing site that strives to help people incorporate couponing and giving back into their everyday life.


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