Shopping smart doesn’t need to be difficult. Many people say that they don’t mind paying retail, and others think that buying from reputable stores means they’re getting a lot better quality than buying online or third party stores. But whether you’re buying groceries or electronics, there are plenty of ways to shop smart and save money assuming you know where to look and how to go about it.
There are loads of people around the world that just can’t resist getting a bargain or capitalising on a special deal, so here’s a compilation of tips that have been passed around frugal and smart shoppers that will help you get fantastic deals on almost anything you could spend money on.
Learn to budget
It sounds boring, but it will help you get past your spending habits so that you always have money when you need it. If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck and constantly having low funds, then you might need to learn how to budget. Sure it doesn’t make items any cheaper, but it does help you manage your funds better.
To start budgeting, all you really need is a smartphone app to monitor your expenditures, a way to calculate all your income and a bit of patience. Start by counting up how much money you make in a single period, such as a month. Next, calculate your necessary expenses for that same period. So your monthly utility bill, phone bill, internet bill, grocery costs and so on. Subtract those expenses from your income, and that will be roughly how much you can spend on your personal belongings.
This is where the first major realisation will come in: how much money you can actually spend on shopping. If you find that you don’t actually have that much money to use, then try to cut down on your expenses by reducing the amount you pay on bills, lowering phone usage and so on. That way you’ll have less to spend on necessary payments and more to spend on your shopping trips.
Budgeting teaches you to hold onto your money which is essential for beating those impulse buy urges. Instead of rushing out to buy something on its release date, you’ll learn to hold onto the money and wait for deals, a sale or to see if the product is worth the money in the first place.
Make Money back from Shopping
It’s common for us to hoard loads of items that we really don’t need. Be it old clothes that are no longer in fashion or outdated electronics, we keep them in boxes and stash them away in our basement, garage, or in plain sight. However, if you want to shop smart, then you need to learn how to get money back from all your shopping.
For starters, sell stuff that you don’t need. If you currently have an iPhone 6, then consider selling it after or before you get an iPhone 7. Some stores even allow you to trade in your current phone in order to get a new one, but there are times when you could get more money by simply selling it on eBay first and have more cash in hand. It might be surprising at first, but a lot of electronics retain their resale value months after the initial release because sales are rare, especially for high-end devices like Samsung, HTC and Apple phones. If you want to make the most of your belongings, then consider selling them as their final service to you before their value diminishes too much.
Another great way to make money back from shopping is to invest in loyalty card schemes. Most of these don’t cost money to sign up for and it’s a great way to rack up points, bonuses and deals while you shop. This article at Upgraded Points does a great job at explaining one of the most popular worldwide reward schemes, Chase Ultimate. It’s great for saving up reward points that can be used for travel, shopping, and the best thing about it is that you can save up points no matter where you shop.
In addition to worldwide cards, you can also get store-specific cards. Most supermarkets have a loyalty card you can apply for that will give you continuous bonuses in the post every week, giving you the incentive to stick with the same store. However, since saving up points doesn’t most money and you can accumulate them, you can apply for a store card with every place you shop. You might need a large wallet to store all the cards, but it’s worth it for the savings!
In short, don’t neglect those store cards and don’t forget that your belongings will continue to be worth money even months after you buy them. Everything from your clothes and electronics to your car can be sold, so if you don’t need those items for one reason or another, consider getting rid of them for some extra cash.
Buying Refurbished and Pre-owned
Never bought something refurbished? Then you’re missing out on a lot of huge savings. There are plenty of reasons against buying something that’s been used or refurbished. For starters, most used items that you buy don’t come with longer warranties, meaning that once it breaks, there’s nothing you can do except take it to a repair shop. Sometimes using something that someone else has used feels a bit tacky, and there are times when you might be worried about the quality of the object. But considering buying a used car isn’t such a big deal, why is buying a used phone suddenly a crime?
Let’s face it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saving some cash and buying something used or refurbished. However, there’s a distinction that has to be made to help you understand the difference. First of all, refurbished simply means that the item was once broken in the past and had to be fixed and reset to its factory settings, hence the word refurbished. Used just implies that the item has been used in the past. Terms such as “like new” and “hardly used” are vague and shouldn’t be trusted, but there are times when buying a used product is fine.
Refurbished, on the other hand, is arguably better than buying something at its retail price. This is because certain items, such as electronics, can develop faults over time and break down as a result. Once refurbished, the problematic components are replaced, it is tested to ensure it’s in working condition, and then it is packaged and boxed professionally to be sold again. This means it’s better off than something factory new. Aside from some possible cosmetic defects, the product works the same as a new one.
Buying used or refurbished is situational but effective. You can make some huge savings and because the retail price is so high, it’s not uncommon for people to buy something pre-owned. Don’t let the negative things people say about used and refurbished items affect you. If you want to be a smart shopper, then you need to avoid paying retail as much as possible.
Looking for a deal takes a lot of time, patience and a bit of knowledge. If you really want to avoid paying retail price for something, then you should consider looking online and even in stores for the biggest savings.
First, let’s talk about price scouting. There are many price comparison websites on the internet that will show you a history of an item’s price, when it dips and how much it currently costs compared to the release price and sale price. Using this information, you can gauge whether your purchase is worth the money or not. For instance, if the price has fallen in the past due to upcoming holidays, then it might be worth waiting a little longer until you buy it. If the price is currently at the lowest it’s ever been, then it’s probably worth buying right now.
Next, we should talk about deal scouting. There are countless deal sharing websites and communities on the internet. The best way to find the right one for you is to check the communities that you’re involved in. For instance, if you enjoy video games, then a forum or subreddit that focuses on video games will most likely have a deals section where people share their findings. There are also websites that are focused on collecting coupons to show you. These could be coupons for eating out in your local area, deals for online learning courses or even something simple such as a clothing discount voucher.
Once you learn to utilise the internet to search for deals, you’ll be surprised to find that you’ll never have to pay full price for an item ever again. By mixing these ideas, you’ll make huge savings on anything and everything and you’ll never have to worry about overspending your hard-earned cash. Shop smart, save your money, and learn how to stretch every single penny you have.