Smart shopping takes planning, product knowledge, and patience. You can find everything you want for a good deal if you’re willing to save money and pay cash, take the time to do your research, and don’t get in a hurry by getting sidetracked by sales.
No matter what you want to buy, someplace there are reviews. Usually online. If you don’t have a computer, you can go to the library. However, most people have a smartphone these days, and you can use that to check prices.
Avoid Impulse Buys
No matter what you do, it’s best to avoid impulse buys. If it’s not on your list as an item you need and you’ve thought about how to use it, then don’t buy it. It’s hard not to buy the stuff you didn’t plan to buy but if you try to avoid even looking when you’re not shopping for that specific item, you’ll be glad you did.
Make a List
Keep a running list of the items that you need and want. The list should include brands that you have researched and known are the best. If you then see one of the items on sale at a price you’ve determined is good (assuming you've saved the cash for it), you can buy it.
Set a Budget
For each item that you plan to purchase, set a budget. Base the budget that you set on what you can afford and how long the item is going to last, and make sure it’s less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Studies show that people spend about 50 percent more when they’re using plastic, whether it’s a credit card or a debit card. That’s because we don’t see that as money even though it is. That’s why Amazon is so successful. They collect that information upfront, then when people click for their "one-click" purchase it's like it's not even money. You’ll spend less when you use cash.
Of course, when you shop online you’ll have to use a debit card or credit card for safety, but always pay off your purchase immediately within five minutes of making the purchase; don’t wait for the payment due date.
When you’re in the store, ask for help. That’s what they’re there for. Customer service is there to help you, whether it’s online or offline. Often, they know about coupon codes and other information to help you get a deal. Sometimes salespeople who sell on commission can change the price too.
Set a Time Limit
When you do go shopping, set a time limit. You don’t want to get off track and start looking at everything. Go shopping with the intent to buy something specific from your list, after you’ve done some reconnaissance via the net first.
Don’t Shop Tired
Be well rested before you set off on your shopping trip, especially if it’s just a comparison shopping trip where you may make no purchases. This can be tiring and if you’re already tired you might make a purchase just to get it over with.
Don’t Take Friends
Yes, it’s fun to shop with friends but it’s also dangerous. If you want to shop smart, go alone. This way when you do find a good deal and only one is left, you and your friend don’t have to fight over it. Also, when your friend starts pleasure shopping you won’t be tempted to jump ship and join her.
Don’t Shop Hungry
One of the biggest shopping expenses you’ll incur is eating at restaurants and usually, they’re not even that good. Instead, eat well at home before you go and set the time limit to be done by the next meal, which you’ll have waiting for you at home.
Don’t Buy Off List
When you create your list, that’s it. Don’t buy anything that’s not on your list or that you’re not specifically shopping for. If you’re shopping for a new mattress, don’t buy a new dresser. It might seem like you’re getting a good deal, but impulse buying is almost never a good deal.
These do’s and don’ts will help you make good and smart shopping choices. You’ll spend less money, buy fewer things that you don’t need, and focus on value when you do make a purchase.