Try These Six Tricks and Save Money Every Time You Shop
Take advantage of rewards programs, promotions, coupons, and other cash-back opportunities.
Saving money on everyday purchases is a major component of any well-planned budget. "If there's something on your list that you want and it's priced for more than you're able to afford, hold off on purchasing the item for now, because you may be able to find a slightly better deal down the road," advises Colleen McCreary, chief people officer of Credit Karma. "If it's an item you need, determine if you're willing to risk losing out on it altogether or if it's worth spending a little more to ensure you actually get the product." When you know how to save money on things that you need, you add flexibility to your finances that can result in being able to put money aside for covering future emergencies or wisely made investments.
What are the other ways in which you can save money every time you shop? Implement some of these tactics for saving dollars every time you shop.
Avoid impulse shopping.
When you see something that you fall in love with at the store, hold back from buying that item right away. "Make a list now and sleep on it," advises McCreary. "Then, once you've had time to think it over, you'll know exactly what items you need versus items you just want." You'll also want to try to avoid being tempted by the first thing you see. "Do your best to avoid buying something on a whim, especially if it's not on your list and doesn't fit within your budget," she adds.
Use those credit card points or rewards.
Some credit cards offer cash back, discounts, and points that can be cashed in for purchases. "If your credit card is helping you rack up points as you continue everyday spending on things like groceries and gas, use them!" McCreary says. "Sometimes, the points can help you purchase things like the newest gadget or gift cards to your favorite online stores. Call your credit card company and see what your credit card reward points can get you." And, if you are able to pay your balance off every month, then you won't be losing those savings with being charged interest on your purchases.
Consider your method of payment, too.
Credit cards can be useful, but for some of us, they can be dangerous, too. "Some credit cards have various perks based on where you're using your card like cash back or points. Depending on what you're buying, make sure you're using the card that gets you the most value," she says. "Just make sure you aren't spending money you don't have—if you are sticking to a tight budget, consider carrying cash, or a prepaid debit card, so you only spend the money you have."
Research your purchases.
Is that deal as good as it sounds? This is where mental math comes in handy—stop and consider whether a particular deal is actually saving you money or not. "If you have your eye on a particular product, study up on all the variations of the product along with its competitors. Then be ready to act on your backup plan if your top choice isn't available. Also, it's likely competitors will offer similar deals," says McCreary. "Keep tabs on the products you want across these retailers to see where you get the best price for the items you want. And, start tracking prices for your most wanted products as soon as you can. It's not uncommon for retailers to jack up prices before a big sale to make it look like you're getting a better deal than you really are."
Buy discount gift cards.
You can purchase gift cards at a discount. "Look into buying gift cards for less!" says McCreary. "There are some websites that offer gift cards at a discount. Even if you only save a few dollars per gift card, that can add up during an expensive holiday season. Sometimes you can get a discount on gift cards if they are purchased in bulk." Just make sure to purchase them from a legitimate site like Raise or Gift Card Granny. Research reviews about a site and check its website trust rating. And, if in doubt, then don't purchase the gift cards.
Use coupons effectively.
"Coupons can really make a difference in your shopping bills, even on the first try. While saving a few dollars each time may not seem like a lot at first, it can really add up over time," says McCreary. "Finding the right coupons can take time and effort, but it's worth it. The first step is to carve out time each week to search for coupons, based on your budget and your shopping list. Having a list of items and brands you're looking for will help you narrow your search. Spending just 10 to 15 minutes each week could end up saving you big over time." But you also don't want to buy something just because it has a good coupon. Only use coupons for items that you will actually use and that won't go to waste.