If your goal is to save money when shopping, then you’ve got to take your game to the next level. At Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, we believe that almost anyone can purchase the things they need and still save money in the process. The trick is keeping some of the finer points in mind, as listed below. Follow these tips and you’ll become a true pro.
- Avoid window shopping. While a trip to the mall might sound like a fun way to get out of the house, keep yourself away from places that tempt you to spend money you shouldn’t be spending.
- Set a budget and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a gift for a friend or groceries for your family; sticking to your household budget means resisting the urge to buy things on impulse. Know what you’re able to spend and do not overspend. (In fact, try to underspend whenever possible.)
- Separate wants from needs. Don’t forget that part of your budget-making process should be deciding what you merely want and what you truly need. Cutting back on the wants can save you money. Often, wants and impulse buys are nice for a while, but are seldom useful in the long run. Make sure you’re going to truly use the items you purchase.
- Pay cash as much as possible. If you’re living on a budget, the last thing you need is more monthly debt. Purchasing with credit cards can easily lead to more debt, which incurs interest over time. The end result is that your items will cost more and you’ll have less available cash each month since you’ll be paying down more debt.
- Shop around. No matter what you’re shopping for, there are usually many choices. Take the time to compare prices between stores and even check the Internet. Also monitor newspapers and sales flyers to find great deals. Similarly, don’t forget about second-hand shops, consignment shops, and other outlet-type stores. Keep in mind that stores of these types often sell merchandise “as is” and have an “all sales final” policy.
- Use coupons. Many people either forget about or ignore coupons, but saving a few dollars here and there really adds up over time. Plus, coupons are everywhere – newspapers, ad circulars, even websites of the manufacturers who make the products you buy as well as the retailers who sell them. Make coupon hunting and clipping a habit and you’ll notice the savings in no time.
- Apply for rebates. Sometimes retailers and manufacturers offer outstanding prices in return for participation in a rebate program. While these programs can be tricky and time consuming, they’re often worth the effort. Just be sure you include all of the required information (UPC codes, receipts, etc.), and keep a copy for your records in case of a problem.
- Shop alone. This is especially true for groceries. With no one to talk you into unplanned purchases, it will be that much easier to stick to your list.
- Don’t overlook bulk buys or generic “store brands.” When shopping for groceries or household staple items, there are often great deals if you’re willing to buy in bulk. Similarly, store brands are often comparable to national brands in quality yet almost always cost less.
- Service plans. Many retailers offer extended service plans for a fee. Since selling these plans is very profitable for them, it only stands to reason that there’s a good chance your item will not require service during a reasonable time period after the warranty runs out. On the other hand, there’s no real way to predict whether your item will malfunction. You should carefully weigh the cost of these service contracts against your feelings as to whether service may be required.
- After the sale. For merchandise, don’t forget to tuck away any warranty information along with your receipt. If something breaks and is covered by a warranty, take advantage of it! Also, make sure you understand the store’s return policy before buying the item.
At Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, we understand that it’s sometimes difficult to put a household budget together, especially when you’re dealing with debt management problems. If you need assistance, give us a call at 800.750.2227 (CCCS) and talk with one of our certified credit counselors.