Shop smarter, not harder! Now that you’re in charge of your own shopping, it’s best not to overcomplicate the process. Rather, knowing the ins and outs of shopping can improve your chances of success when making purchases. Shopping is one of the primary components of your budget, as well as an important part of your survival, ensuring you have the necessities needed to live and live comfortably. Sure, you know how to shop, but do you know how to shop effectively?

Extreme Couponing

Combine on-sale items with coupons

With coupons, items already on sale can become cheaper, or even free! Focus your efforts on purchasing on-sale items and goods you can coupon, or making your purchase a mix of the two, in order to maximize your spending potential.

Don’t be brand loyal

Brand loyalty can cause you to miss out on great deals and may cause you to spend more in the long run. Customers tend to focus on the brands they’re buying, opting for more expensive options because of the label rather than quality or value. This can lead to overpaying for items that don’t last long, like food.

Some believe they’re “paying for quality,” but it’s difficult to determine if that’s the case with perishable goods due to the role of brand recognition in pricing. When shopping, try focusing on the quality of a product rather than the name attached and make the cost-effective choice when considering two almost identical items from different companies. This is not to say that you cannot buy your preferred brands, But it does not always pay to only buy those brands when similar products are available.

Not every coupon deal is good

Just because you have a coupon for something, doesn’t mean you should use it. Some coupons exist to attract you to products while doing the bare minimum in the way of saving you money.

Organize coupons

Organize your coupons for easy access. When couponing, you will want to know when and where you are using your coupons, as well as which products your coupons are for. Organizing coupons is especially helpful at checkout. You don’t want to find yourself in the checkout line not knowing where the right coupons are!

Know what you need

Rather than going shopping with the vague idea that you need food or clothes, take inventory of what you have and know what you need. Your shopping trip (or online order) should have a purpose in order to avoid too much unnecessary spending and distraction.

Stockpile Common Items

Stock up on nonperishable foods and items you use often. Take advantage of sales on canned goods, frozen goods, and personal hygiene products, and other long-lasting products to save money in the future, and to have them on hand if there’s a time you cannot buy them. If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that toilet paper is not always readily available!

Buy high-quality items

Remember to put quality over price for long-lasting items! While it might be more costly, this method is actually an effective way to manage spending. Low-quality items are less expensive but don’t last as long. The short product life means you will find yourself buying a replacement for the low-quality product sooner rather than later. When buying a high-quality item you decrease shopping frequency, as the quality ensures a longer product life and prolongs the need for replacement. 

Online Shopping

Coupon sites

Couponing has never been easier with so many couponing sites and tools to use! Couponing sites take most of the work out of finding deals and discounts for both online and in-person shopping. If you’re interested in online couponing check out sites like:

  • RetailMeNot – A collection of coupon sites that allows you to see verified deals and offers for maximum savings! RetailMeNot has coupons, promo codes, & cashback offers to save on retail, travel, food, prescriptions, and more!
  • CouponCabin – A couponing site that’s more than just coupons! CouponCabin gives you access to coupon and promo codes, printable coupons, gift cards, and more, all in one money-saving app.
  • Honey – A smart shopping assistant that will make shopping with coupons a whole lot easier! Honey applies discounts to your cart from its treasury of online coupons, finding the best deals for you anytime, anywhere. You can also compare Amazon prices with the honey app or free browser extension for better prices on any product.

Shop specific items

Searching endlessly for goods is a thing of the past for most now that online shopping has streamlined the search process. Online marketplaces like Google Shopping, Amazon, and eBay have made it easy to find specific items in minutes. They even allow users to sort options using filters for price, rating, location, clothing size, etc.

Avoid impulse buys

While they feel good at the time, impulse buys aren’t good for your wallet. Unanticipated and unnecessary spending can be a real hit to your budget, even if you think you’re getting a good deal. And while impulse buying isn’t always bad, it isn’t always self-care. Many people who engage in impulse buying behavior are sensation-seeking. In fact, giving in to your more impulsive shopping habits too often can be damaging to both your wallet and your mental health.

Sign up for emails

Signing up for emails will notify you of sales and upcoming events, gift you with coupons, and give you access to exclusive deals. Even the simple act of joining the email list can get you money off of your purchase. To keep these types of promotional emails separate from other emails, consider setting up a separate email address. 

In-Store Shopping

Dressing rooms and coronavirus

Since the start of quarantine, stores have closed their fitting rooms or restricted the use of their fitting rooms, leaving customers unsure of how to pick out clothes. Even with dressing rooms that are open, customers hesitate, not feeling safe enough to use them. Trying on clothes in a store has become a risk, with little known about how the virus spreads on fabric and what stores are doing to ensure customer safety when it comes to the clothes and the rooms themselves.

In isolation, some consumers have found online try-on options for glasses and makeup to be a practical alternative to risking in-store try on. Others have opted to guess based on looks or order online, hoping they don’t have to make any returns. But if you must try on clothes in-store, what should you do? How do you shop safely?

  • Do not touch your face while trying on clothes
  • Avoid trying on anything that goes near your face, like glasses, scarves, and hats
  • Sanitize your hands before and after trying on the clothes or wear disposable gloves
  • Wash any clothes you buy as soon as you get home

TIP: Can’t use the dressing room? Check out CTV News’ article, “How to shop for your size without using a fitting room.”

Read Customer Feedback

Before buying anything or giving a store your patronage, make sure to read customer reviews and feedback! Customer experience is a huge predictor of how your shopping experience will go, so knowing what other customers thought of the goods and services they’ve received can mean the difference between success and disappointment. Some trusted places to find customer reviews are:

  • Trustpilot
  • Amazon Reviews
  • Google Reviews
  • Reseller Ratings

Come back for part 4 of our Adulting Series, “How to Write a Resume,” which will be posted on February 23. And don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly blog so you don’t miss out on more posts like this one!

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