By: Jennifer L. Lopez, Debt.com Financial Fitness Trainer
Especially in today’s difficult economy and job market, people are being increasingly more cautious in how they spend their money. For some, this involves buying less; and for others, they are considering more carefully how each individual dollar is spent. Both tactics for saving have their merits, but sometimes it is necessary to make purchases. Thus, it is a valuable skill to know how to save the most that you can when you must go shopping. Below are a few ways to strike some savings:
- Clip Those Coupons—When you shop in physical stores, collect coupons to use. They can be manufacturer’s coupons obtained from weekly newspaper coupon inserts, printed from online coupon websites (like Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, or RedPlum.com) or manufacturer’s websites, or obtained directly from companies. Don’t forget to use store coupons that are available, whether on individual items or percentage or money off total store purchases. Look for stores whose coupon policies allow for the acceptance of competitors coupons or for combining coupons and offers.
- Deal In Discounts—When making online purchases, make sure to check around for discount, coupon, or promotional codes that can be entered at checkout to receive a discount on an item itself, free or reduced shipping, or even a free item. Websites like RetailMeNot.com and CouponCabin.com collect and compile codes from all over the internet, making it easy for consumers to find a valid code for the online retailer that they are purchasing from.
- Shop Strategically—Retailers often runs sales, specials, and clearances on items at the same time each year. Grab a list of those annual times (like this one on About.com), and use that to plan when you will shop for particular items. It may require some planning ahead, but the savings should make it worth the wait.
- “You Better Shop Around”—Before you make a purchase, particularly a larger one, make sure to shop around first. Check the local sales papers, and do some online research to determine what the retail price is, and what is a good price for the item. If you shop online, remember to include shipping costs in your calculations. Price comparison websites, like NexTag.com, BizRate.com, or PriceGrabber.com, can make this process easier.
- Be a Social Butterfly—Retailers are increasingly using social media websites to communicate with their customers and increase their exposure. Online promotions play a big part in their marketing strategies. Get connected to your favorite brands on sites like Facebook.com, Twitter, and Foursquare.com to receive exclusive discounts, coupons, giveaways, and samples that you may not have access to elsewhere.
- Shop outside the Box—Don’t be afraid to shop at places other than big box stores. When you need to purchase something, consider websites like Amazon.com, Overstock.com, and Ebay.com to get better prices. Or when shopping in store, don’t forget to check thrift, consignment, resale, overstock, and warehouse stores for extra savings.
- “What’s in a Name?”—Whether you are shopping for food or clothes, don’t automatically assume that name brand is better. Consider lesser known brands to strike some major savings. When you have to choose, ignore brand names, and make your decision based on which option offers the superior quality that will last longer.
When money is tight, it can be difficult to get everything that you need at prices that you can afford. But when you remember that every penny counts, you will be more likely to establish small, practical changes in your spending habits that will earn you substantial savings over the course of time.
Do you have some tried-and-true savings tips of your own? Share the wealth by commenting below, and let us know how you earn your title as a ‘savvy shopper.’