Most people think they have it all figured out when it comes to getting the best deal, but you would be amazed at how much money is lost on dumb shopping practices.
Think you know how to get the best savings and avoid the biggest pitfalls? Or are you guilty of these 10 shopping mistakes?
1) Not Having a Plan
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping without a list. Well, that rule applies to any kind of shopping. Without a plan, you will inevitably make impulse buys that you don’t need or don’t have money for.
Keep a list of your planned purchases. Take it with you to stores or keep it close at hand when shopping online. If it’s not on the list, it shouldn’t go in your cart.
2) Getting Sucked in by Sales
It seems like a no-brainer: If it’s on sale, you should buy it.
Wrong. Whenever you feel the “but-it’s-on-sale” temptation, ask yourself a question: Would I have bought it if it wasn’t on sale? If the answer is “no,” you’re actually losing money on the deal.
3) Failing to Compare
Never assume that you know where to find the best prices. You never know when a store will be running a sale or when the online price will drop below the store price.
It’s always best to compare between at least three stores, especially for big ticket items. And don’t forget to ask if stores price match. You can even potentially save on shipping or on gas money if a nearby store will price match competitor or online prices.
4) Not Looking for Deals
With great websites dedicated to coupons, it takes an impressive level of laziness to click the checkout button without at least looking for a code.
Just like with comparison shopping, it’s important never to make assumptions. Unless you’ve looked for a deal, you can’t say that one doesn’t exist. A few minutes spent browsing an online coupon site is a small price to pay for savings.
5) Not Submitting Rebates
A few minutes to fill out and mail in a rebate is a quick task with a money-saving reward. Yet it’s amazing how many people buy an item based on the after-rebate-price, and then never submit the rebate.
It couldn’t be simpler or more straightforward. If you don’t submit rebates, you’re losing money.
6) Suffering the Cheapskate’s Regret
Ever heard the saying, “you get what you pay for?”
Buying cheap isn’t always the cheapest option as lower prices can mean lower quality. Cheap products often break, deteriorate or fail far earlier than their more expensive counterparts, which means you end up paying for the same item twice when you have to replace it.
7) Wasting in Bulk
Here’s another false mindset to eliminate: Buying in bulk isn’t always the savviest option.
Flour, condiments and cooking oils are just a few of the products rookies make the mistake of buying in bulk. Unless you’re running a restaurant, chances are these items will spoil before you can use them.
8) Skipping Store Cards
For the low, low (free) price of filling out a form, a store loyalty card will earn you points and score you deals every time you shop.
Store credit cards are slightly trickier, but they can be a great money-saver as well. Let’s take Target for example. Do you shop there once or twice a year? Then it’s probably not worth the change in your credit score to get a card. Do you shop at Target at least once a week? Then you’re losing money every time you shop without a store card.
9) Ignoring Fine Print
Remember those store cards? Your savings could turn to debt if you don’t read the fine print.
Store cards work best as money-savers if you treat them more like cash and less like a credit card. The interest rates and penalties tend to be high, so only use a store card if you know you can pay it off right away. Otherwise, your 5 or 10% savings could go back to the store as interest payments.
10) Not Budgeting for Splurges
It seems counterintuitive to budget for splurges, but it’s a helpful savings strategy.
Never allowing yourself a special splurge doesn’t work in the long run. After months of denial, most people tend to break the budget in a big way. Rather than working up to a big binge, build in a little monthly allowance for treating yourself. Spend it each month or save it up for a few months if you know you want a bigger treat.
How do your shopping strategies stack up? Are you a savvy shopper or are you constantly losing cash? Keeping an eye on your habits and identifying these common pitfalls can help you fall into the category of the savvy and money-saving shopper.