Shopping Strategies

I’m not a coupon queen or a penny pincher, but I love feeling like I get my money’s worth. The following is a list of EASY practices I use to save time, money, and frustration.

  1. Always operate within a budget. The one way to guarantee buyer’s remorse is to spend more money than you have. Just remember, being in style and having the latest and greatest isn’t a necessity. Shop Goodwill if you like or must. Also, when you limit yourself, it’s easier to say “no” to impulse buying. For added savings, use cash. People statistically spend less when they hand over paper as opposed to swiping plastic.
  2. Routinely clean out closets and drawers. Rather than waiting for spring-cleaning, if you take 20 minutes once a month to peruse and remove items you no longer use, even if it’s only a handful of things, it makes a big difference. An item you might not have been willing to let go of for several months in a row might be much easier to toss if you keep seeing its uselessness month after month. Also, it’s a good idea to keep a donation bin somewhere in your house or garage so you have both a reminder and easy access to toss things.

3.  Only shop a few times a year, and shop with a mission. If you routinely weed things out of your life, it’s easier to see what you actually need when you go shopping. Make a list of necessities and spend your budget in one fell swoop instead of piddling it away on meaningless shopping trips where you blindly look around for something to jump out at you. When you make a list and come home with exactly what you need, there is no guilt in spending a larger quantity of money (as long as you stayed in budget).

4. Shop for needs, not wants. It’s easy to get sidetracked by things you all of the sudden realize you “need,” yet strangely didn’t until you saw it. Walk away from those items. If it truly is a need, you can add it to the list for the next time you go shopping. I have rarely returned to get that thing I thought I needed. Also, make a practice of using up or wearing out what you already have before shopping for a replacement. This will help you readjust your financial priorities.

5. Buy quality instead of quantity. For the longest time, I purchased a new purse every year from Target or some boutique store. I never felt I could afford the price tag on a designer purse. What I realized is that if I had saved my money from the constant cycle of purchasing cheaper bags, I could actually afford a designer bag that I really wanted. So that’s what I did. I saved and bought the designer purse of my dreams seven years ago and I still use it today, and probably will for many, many, many more years to come. That corrected the constant revolving door of purse purchasing, which means I save money in the long run. I’d much rather have fewer quality items than a closet full of cheap stuff.

6. Don’t fall for sales gimmicks. A sale on a new $1,000 television will tell you that you’ll save $250. But, if you’re not in the market for a new TV, and you purchase it, you will not have saved $250. You will have SPENT $750. I also hate places that tell you the more you spend the more you save. The truth is, the more you spend, THE LESS MONEY YOU HAVE. It’s only a good deal if you’re actually in the market for that particular item.

7. Avoid quantity buying from particular stores. One of the best sales gimmicks has to be stores like Bath and Body Works who charge an astronomical amount for one bottle of lotion. But, if you buy 6 bottles, the price dramatically drops. To be honest, I don’t need that much fragrance in my life. I’m on their mailing list so I often receive a “free item” coupon in the mail every so often. I use that to get my lotion and consequently have not purchased any fragrance from them in the last six months (let’s not talk candles, though!). Of course, if you don’t have access to a free item, and you’re completely out of fragrance, I would say you’re safe to buy. However, don’t allow yourself to purchase again until you’re on the very last item of your stockpile.

8. Be patient for sales you know will come. This past April, I needed new shorts. I found a couple pair that I loved, but they weren’t on sale. I walked away and waited. Sure enough, within 5 days, the shorts were on sale for 40% off. I know people worry about places running out of their size, but, especially at boutique shops, they will order your size for you if they don’t have it in store and have it shipped to your home free of cost. In the end, I paid almost half of what I would have paid had I not waited less than a week for the sale.

9. Don’t take your tags off when you get home. Things sometimes look great in the fitting room, but when I pair them with items I have at home, reality does not match up with my vision. When I get home, I put on newly purchased items and pair them with what I thought they might go with. Also, take time to sit down, cross your legs, bend over, etc. in your item to make sure it doesn’t do anything funky that you will later find annoying. If I decide I’m keeping it, I place it back in the bag with tags still on and wait until it’s actually time to wear it. Just this past overhaul, I ended up taking 6 items back to the store because after 1-2 weeks, I realized I really didn’t need the item or I didn’t like it as much as I initially thought. So, I went and got my money back.

10. As you purchase new items, be willing to let go of old. When I purchased a new swimsuit this year, I got rid of an older one I didn’t wear very often. New pajama pants? That means it’s time for an old pair to go. Keep clutter at bay by making your purchasing and donating a revolving door. Plus, it makes getting dressed WAY EASIER when you have fewer items from which to choose.

11. Check for sales after you purchase full price items. Just a month ago, I had several Macy’s gift cards I wanted to use. After shopping their website, I purchased an item I liked. It was full price, but I didn’t mind too much since I wasn’t using my own money. Two days after my purchase, I happened to look back online to see that my item was not only on sale, it also boasted an extra 30% off. A quick call to Macy’s and they were more than willing to refund me the difference from what I paid, resulting in $61 back in my pocket. There are many places that will refund money if you price check with them within a certain amount of time.

At the end of the day, setting a budget and purchasing only the things you need and truly love is one of the simplest ways to save money. I like to use my money wisely, and that means not letting it jump out of my hands every time I walk into a store. Yes, easier said than done, but after a little practice, it becomes habit.

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