Did you know shopping leads to spending money?
Certain shopping sprees can set you back hundreds or even more.
Whether you live paycheck to paycheck or not, spending more than you actually need is never OK for your budget.
Just think how much money you could save if only you learned the secrets to save money and shop smarter!
Well, good news! There’s always a way to avoid overspending! (and it’s not even that difficult)
By learning how to shop smart you could save a lot of money in the long run!
But how do you become a smart shopper?
Most retailers will use certain strategies to push you towards spending more. Other times, impulse buys simply ‘happen’ because you were hungry or bored or ashamed to say no to spending.
Here’s a thought: next time you go shopping, keep the following tips in mind!
20 secrets to shop smarter and save money
1. Never shop at random
Always plan ahead and carry with you a list of items you need.
To save time and avoid misplacing pieces or paper, keep updated lists of needed items on your phone. You always carry it with you, right?
Regardless if you need to buy groceries or a new pair of pants, always have a plan!
It’s easy to overspend when you just shop at random.. you think you need everything and that everything is worth buying!
The truth is, having a shopping list (yes, even when not buying food) will help you control yourself and help you be smart about your purchases.
2. Always have a budget
Shopping carelessly and spending left and right isn’t ideal. Not even if you earn enough to afford it.
A budget doesn’t have to be a strict number staring you in the face, mumbling “thou shalt not pass!“. That’s just a budgeting myth you need to stop believing.
You’re the one setting your own budget. Knowing how much you can or can’t afford to spend should help keep your shopping urges under control.
Having limited cash helps as well.
Leave your credit cards at home if you know you have to buy groceries or just one pair of shoes. Limit yourself by having just the cash in your wallet.
3. Shop around
.. and check for reviews before making a big purchase.
Shopping around to get the best deal can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Even when grocery shopping, do you buy the first apples you see?
I hope not!
You might miss out on the juiciest of all apples which are only 1 aisle away! But – uh oh! – you decided to just grab the first merchandise you see!
4. Beware of coupons
They might be your friend at times, but coupons were never meant to help you spend less. They’re designed to help retailers earn more!
Coupons are typically offered for you to spend less money on a product, (hopefully) like it and (hopefully) continue buying it even when not discounted.
Or, retailers might offer you a coupon in the hopes you’ll enter their store and find other ‘stuff’ to spend money on.
Coupons are great if you know you need the discounted item.
Wanting to use all coupons you have though, only leads to spending money you wouldn’t have spent otherwise!
5. Wait for sales
Can you survive not wearing the latest-coolest-awesomest swim suit this year? Because you can probably get it 80% off in September!
You can save A LOT of money if you just wait for the sales season to start!
Unless you specifically need to buy an item today, it’s probably wiser to just wait.
6. Ignore the displays
Do you think retailers create beautiful displays around certain products because they’re bored? Na-ah!
Everything is aimed to make you spend more. A creative display will get anyone’s attention and (hopefully) you’ll stop and make a purchase, instead of ignoring the product and move on.
Do you need that item?
- yes – shop around to see if you find a cheaper option!
- no – admire the beautiful display and then move along!
7. Ignore the music
Have you noticed how anywhere you shop, you usually hear music?
Music is known to get people into certain moods. In this case, music plays so you can shop more!
Ambiance is important to make customers feel comfortable and welcomed in a store. Every retailer on the planet knows that!
Hearing music while shopping isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Especially if it’s good music and you enjoy it! But try not to pay too much attention to it and stick to your list and budget.
8. Use the small shopping carts
If shopping carts are available, opt for the smaller ones!
It’s a clever trick to help you buy less stuff!
If they don’t have shopping carts, but baskets you have to carry yourself, even better!
Who wants to go on a stroll with a heavy basket?
You’ll buy less stuff so you won’t have to struggle carrying all that weight!
9. Beware of items at eye level
To facilitate sales, retailers often place the more expensive items at eye level.
This way, you’ll see them right away and you’ll easily reach out and buy them.
Instead, the clever thing to do here is to look for the more convenient alternative either at the bottom of the shelves or above eye level!
10. Leave kids at home
Speaking of items at eye level, an ingenious trick retailers use when targeting children is placing ‘cool stuff’ at their eye level.
Everyone knows children rarely make the difference between wants and needs!
It’s not even the little ones’ fault! They’re children! And when they begin screaming in tears, mom & dad will (hopefully) buy whatever they want to avoid making a scene!
If possible, leaving kids at home when shopping is best. You’ll be able to shop quicker and avoid spending money on unnecessary stuff.
11. Look away from the checkout aisle
You’re done with your shopping and are ready to pay for your goods.
You wait in line.
You get bored, so you start observing the many choices of gum, candy, or ice cold sodas…
Tempted to buy yet?
Although I have yet to find a bubble gum aisle at the store I usually shop at, placing certain items at checkout points is a good strategy to make you want to buy more.
12. Avoid shopping while hungry / mad / sad etc.
Avoid going shopping for groceries when you’re hungry.
Actually, avoid any kind of shopping when you’re hungry!
The simple fact you’re out of the house and need to eat will urge you to spend money to eat out.
Shopping when sad is often perceived as therapeutic. However, wouldn’t you be even more sad if you run out of money?
Certain moods are known to prone people to impulse buy. That’s never a good idea.
13. Avoid store credit cards at all costs
In certain situations, applying for a store credit card could help. Say, when you’re trying to apply for credit cards with bad credit.
However, if you don’t actually need another credit card, step away from the contract!
Store credit cards come with ridiculously high interest rates, so it’s really not worth applying for one! You’re better off paying with cash or debit!
14. Be assertive with the salesperson
If you don’t actually need any help and are just there to window shop, let the salesperson know!
A salesperson’s job is to sell, sell, sell.
They offer their help as a courtesy, but their intentions are far from helping you save!
Often times, they can make you feel uncomfortable for not wanting to buy certain items. If that happens, simply explain you’re not ready to purchase just yet, but you thank them for their input.
Or, they will convince you to spend, even though you could have slept very well at night not having bought so much ‘stuff’.
15. Consider shopping online
Sometimes, shopping online can save you some serious money.
You avoid all the above described retail tricks and can simply browse for the items you need, in peace!
Depending on where you live, some stores might have adopted the ‘pay online – pickup in store’ policy.
It’s convenient because you can shop only for the items you need and, when picking them up, you avoid surprises (like, being sent a different product at home or having your newly ordered clothes not fit!).
16. Don’t fall for pricing strategies
An item worth $99.99 is still $100! Well, you’ll get a cent back, but that won’t make much of a difference!
Commonly known as a marketing pricing strategy, it actually works 99.99% of the time!
Kidding aside, don’t fall for this trick. Look at the big picture before deciding whether or not it’s worth buying.
17. Ignore future rewards
One clever trick many retailers use is offering you exclusive coupons or special deals designed just for you, IF you come back and shop again in 1-2 weeks or next month.
Many are tempted to take on these offers, but if you don’t actually need to buy anything, you’re not saving money, but spending funds you could set aside.
I’ve been offered all sorts of discount cards, usually when shopping for clothes. Since I didn’t need any additional clothes few weeks later, I chose to ignore their offer. Having an exclusive 40%-50% discount was tempting, but I didn’t really need to spend more on clothes!
18. Take advantage of loyalty programs
If you usually prefer certain stores only, check to see if they have a loyalty program.
We’ve been doing our weekly shopping (and bought clothes, small appliances and other items on occasion) at a store that’s conveniently located close to our home and always has good merchandise and OK prices.
The loyalty points we gather throughout the year are great either for getting discounts or for redeeming useful prizes only loyal clients have access to.
Of course it’s a marketing trick! But I have to say, we rarely bought an appliance or cookware with our own money! We got them for free just because we shop there anyway.
19. Avoid random shopping sprees
A good way to save money when shopping is to not go shopping at all!
Do you often find yourself bored and decide to check out what’s new at the Mall?
Well, that’s too bad, because impulse buying can become the enemy when window shopping. Especially if you’re not alone and your friend tells you “that shirt would look so good on you!”
(On a very serious note, if you’re having problems with compulsive shopping, it may be time to seek help for your addiction. Compulsive buying can turn into a serious disorder if you can’t control it)
20. Learn to respect your money
Do you often find yourself ashamed not to spend? Just because your friends are doing it, doesn’t mean you should too!
On a similar note, did you ever pick up the more costly product because you felt people were judging you for buying the cheaper one? (guilty! gulp!)
Spending money just because you’re embarrassed not to is not OK!
Buying a generic brand doesn’t make you poor. Saying ‘no’ to the salesperson doesn’t make you a monster. Nor does refusing to spend as much as your friends.
You earn your money thanks to the effort you put in everyday at your job. Respecting that makes sense! So what if others splurge on a regular basis? What you do with your own money is your business and you shouldn’t let others influence your finances in any way. Except if they have a positive input to offer.
What other ways to save money shopping do you know? What helps you shop smarter?
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