Whether you absolutely dread it or consider it a source of therapy, shopping is a part of life. We continuously shop for groceries, basic amenities and big purchases, so being aware of good shopping tactics is important. Learning about good habits helps rid us of our bad ones so we can take a big step towards managing our finances responsibly.
Beware of Discounts
It’s important not to buy something just because it’s a good deal, if you don’t need it. Getting a good deal is a still a waste of money if you don’t make good use of your purchase. So next time you’re out and about or browsing a coupon site, don’t let yourself be dazzled by the percent off, but consider the product itself. If you would still buy it at full price, take advantage of the deal. If not, move on to better things.
Another common mistake made by shoppers is buying too much of something because of a sale. Grocery stores advertise “10 for 10” deals and clothing stores host “BOGO” sales, but if you don’t eat the all of the food or wear the clothes you got a good deal on, you’re still losing money.
Everyone knows it’s a bad idea to grocery shop when you’re hungry. You end up torturing yourself looking at all the yummy food around and you buy way more than you need or will use. So do yourself a favor and grab a snack before you head out grocery shop, because wasted food isn’t good for the environment or your wallet.
This doesn’t just apply to food. Some people take retail therapy very seriously, but it’s always a bad idea to go to your favorite store after something’s made you sad or frustrated. It truly affects your judgment and heading home with bags full of new stuff will only make you feel better temporarily. You’ll be back to feeling low when you see your bank statement.
The third aspect of remaining level-headed is online shopping. Don’t browse online stores or watch infomercials when you’re bored or have had one drink too many. Soon you’ll have packages arriving every day and a bunch of random useless gadgets.
Keep It Organized
If you aren’t the list-making type, it’s understandable. But I strongly suggest you take up writing lists when you’re heading out to a large store or mall. If you don’t know what to write on your list because you don’t know what you need, you have encountered your first red flag. Smart shopping is all about determining what you need beforehand, so you don’t end up flustered in the store or buying everything that looks nice.
And not to take you back to your pre-teen years, but setting an allowance for yourself is a great idea if you’re notorious for overspending. Credit cards feel unlimited to zealous shoppers, so if you have a set amount of cash that you know will cover your basic expenses and needs, you won’t end up in a situation where you’re hauling boxes home and you already can’t remember what’s in them.
Set Big Goals
Setting financial goals is a big part of adulthood. Whether you’re saving up for a house, new car, retirement or your dream vacation, chances are that you’re saving up for something. Make that goal a reality by planning a timeline based on your finances and the spending you think you can cut out of your current budget. Use the money you waste through bad shopping habits to accelerate saving up for your next big purchase.
If you have troubling making this change, use visual aids. If putting that money into a jar will help you realize how responsible you’re being, then do it! If setting up a poster board of pictures of your dream island vacation, go for it! Whatever helps you remember to think about your goals before you impulsively buy something is useful.
Discard Extra Expenses
I’m not saying that everyone is out to rip you off, but extra expenses can really pile up if you let them. It’s up to you to decide what you do and don’t need. Carefully consider whether or not you want to pay the pricey fee for a store’s gifting wrapping services this holiday season. Next time you purchase a new electronic or appliance, think about if you really need to pay for an extended warranty. Ask yourself if you can spare the extra five minutes to make coffee in the morning instead of buying an expensive cup on the go. Another common example of an extra expense is paying the outrageous fee to check in luggage with an airport, when you can carefully pack your carry on to fit your travel needs. These are all extra expenses and it’s important to be aware of them before you pay for them.
Are you guilty of any of these bad shopping habits? Do you have additional tips for being a smart shopper? Please leave a comment below!