Smart Buying Tips to Save Money

If saving some serious cash by planning your purchases and being aware of the games retailers play is the case, know the secrets to saving a lot of money when shopping... Then you are in the right place.

Huh, money is actually one of the things people worry about the most. On a regular basis, families and individuals make schedule adjustments due to job obligations and choose cars and houses based primarily on their budget. Finances affect every part of life, so exercising prudence and discipline when you shop is crucial for most people. Whether families have goals for saving money for a major purchase or want to make smarter purchasing choices to prevent overspending, these 18 smart shopping tips below can prove helpful.

The 18 Tips to Buying Securely


 1. Don’t buy the latest and greatest

Lot of people want to get the newest mobile device as soon as it comes out, and that means they’ll pay top dollar for it. Instead, if you’re willing to go without the latest phone or tablet for a year or two, you can upgrade from your current model to a more recent one without paying release-day price.

2. Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase.

Reputable sites use technologies such as 
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission. You can tell if this technology is in use when you see a lock icon in your web browser window. Another way is to check the address of the web page you are accessing; it should begin with “https”. By the way, never send your credit card number by e-mail.

3. Shop with a list. This is my number one tip for good reason. 

Many people overspend or buy things they don’t want, don’t need and never end up using because they haven’t prepared properly. This is your hard earned cash and precious time you are spending – it’s worth a few minutes of preparation, don’t you think? Sure it is (and remember, you’re worth it!). So, before you set off on your shopping trip, prepare. Review what you already have – in your closet, cupboards, home or garage, then write a list of the ‘gaps’ you have and the needs this item will fill. Make sure they are genuine needs – not frivolous wants (there’s a big difference between the two). And finally, remember to use that list when you shop! That list will be no good scrumped up on the bottom of your bag or jammed into your pocket. Use it and only buy things that are on that list!

4. Set a budget. Yes, oh yes – the “b” word. Budget. 

This is important. Many people overspend on things they don’t want, need or use because they had no parameters around their spending – they just went ‘hell for leather’. Not a smart way to shop. You need to set a ballpark figure (or a more precise one if you have the specific research on what you are shopping for to support it) on what you are going to spend on this trip, what is comfortable for you to spend and what makes sense for you to spend on this shopping trip. You want to feel great about this shopping trip long after the ink has faded on the receipt, right? And one way to do that is to make sure you don’t buy more than you can afford. Set your budget – and like the list – stick to it! Whatever your budget – $50 or $500 or $5000 – stop shopping once you hit that limit.

5. Pay with cash. 

The research is clear: we pay 20 – 50% more when we shop with magic plastic, whether it’s using a credit or debit card. There’s something about that magic plastic that can make us feel like we’re using Monopoly money, play money. Like it’s not real. Unfortunately, those credit card fees are very real! So once your list is prepared and you have a realistic budget you can stick to, withdraw your funds in cash and use only that cash for this shopping trip. Paying with cash feels more “real” and that’s what we want – to reconnect you to this shopping experience so you only buy things you genuinely need and will use. You’ll save a fortune and those impulse buys will seem far less alluring!

6. Set a Time-frame. 

Don’t allow yourself to meander around a shopping centre in an aimless fashion. Many people use shopping in a lollabout fashion, whiling away an afternoon in their favourite mall. Not a strategy I would promote or advocate. If you want to shop smart, this isn’t the way to go – no meandering shopping! Set a specific timeframe that you will complete your shopping in, and once that time is over, it’s time to head home. Your time is too valuable to spend it mindlessly anyway – once you’ve bought all you need (and nothing you don’t), stop shopping and turn your attention to something else for the day.

7. Pick the best time for you. 

Shopping can be a fatiguing and stressful activity if you don’t shop at a time that works well for you. Shopping when the malls and stores are most busy (such as late night shopping and Saturday mornings) can lead to shopping fatigue where you end up fractious and irritable – not a state in which smart shopping usually takes place. Remember that our physical environment affects us and overcrowded, jostling environments like congested shopping centres rarely bring out the best in anybody. So, pick a time to shop when you are going to be at your most alert and positive. And make sure that you take regular breaks or shop for shorter periods to avoid becoming fatigued.

8. Shop alone. 

Many people find that shopping partners are more akin to accomplices in crime! They can egg us on to making purchases that we don’t want or need, and can have their own (sometimes unconscious) motives for encouraging us to shop. Perhaps they feel some sense of competition, or they want to live vicariously through us and our purchases. Whatever is going on for the other person, what they don’t have to live with is the consequences of your shopping – only you have to live with that. If you want to go shopping as a social activity, that’s okay – but make it a purely social activity with no purchasing allowed. Window shop, or have a bite to eat together, but don’t buy until you can go shopping on your own.

9. Don’t shop when you are tired, hungry, lonely, bored or upset. 

This is not an exhaustive list of the emotional states that lead some people to overshop and end up buying things they don’t want or need. But they are some of the most common emotional triggers that prompt people to shop unconsciously and therefore not smartly. If you are feeling any of those emotions – you are tired, hungry, lonely, bored, and upset – don’t go shopping, instead, do something else until you feel on more of an emotional even keel.

10. Shop with businesses you already know and trust.

Many retailers now offer online shopping. One advantage is that some let you return merchandise to their stores, instead of shipping it back. If you want to make a purchase from a store you haven’t heard of before, or do some research… Start with the Better Business Bureau. Also, make sure the site lists a physical address, not just a post office box.

Finally, check to see if it displays seals from consumer protection organizations such as the previously mentioned Better Business Bureau Online and TRUSTe. However, keep in mind that these images on their own don’t mean a whole lot since they can be easily copied and added to any webpage. Clicking on the image should take you to a webpage that verifies that the website is BBB or TRUSTe certified.

You can also see what other shoppers have to say about a particular merchant by checking reviews at Bizrate and by doing a search with Google. Enter the name of the merchant along with the keyword “scam”. You may discover some interesting results.

11. Look for coupons and other discounts.

Many online merchants offer rebates that can save you a bundle of money. To receive the discount, typically you enter the coupon code in the order form. It’s then deducted from the total purchase price.

For travelers, many airline sites offer weekly specials and e-fares. To keep informed of these discounts, sign up for newsletters at their websites.

Before checking out from a website it’s worth taking a few minutes to visit RetailMeNot to check and see if there are any current offers that might apply to the retailer you’re buying from.

12. Comparison shop.

So-called shopping bots compare prices for products across dozens of websites. You’d be amazed at the range of prices. Start with these:
PriceRunner (UK)
Google Shopping

13. Make sure to be skeptical.

Be wary of deals that appear too good to be true. They probably are. If you have suspicions, contact the merchant directly. No phone number listed on the site? Then take your business somewhere else. Also, take a few minutes to research the site online by using a search engine to search for the name of the website along with the word “scam”.

14. Check the shipping costs.

Shipping, especially for next day delivery, could make the total purchase price more than what you would pay in a retail store. At one time, many sites offered free shipping as a way to attract customers. While those days are over except during the holidays, some sites still offer free or discounted shipping for select items, purchases over a certain amount, or with a valid coupon code.

15. Protect private information.

All reputable sites should post a privacy policy that explains what they do with customer information. Take a few minutes to review it. If you don’t agree with the policy – some sites sell data to third parties – don’t shop at the site. Even if you have no objections, don’t provide unnecessary information by filling out the optional fields in the order form.

16. Review the return and refund policies.

How can you return unwanted merchandise? How long do you have? Will you receive a full refund? Who pays for return shipping? An e-tailer should provide answers. If not, call the merchant before you buy.

17. Pay with plastic.

[Alternatives to no .5] In the U.S., credit cards offer the same consumer protection whether shopping online or offline – you are liable only for $50 USD if your card is used fraudulently, and quite often the credit card company won’t hold you liable for any fraudulent charges. You can also challenge charges and withhold payment in the event of a dispute with a merchant.

Another alternative payment option, particularly for buying from auction sites, is setting up an account with PayPal. You electronically transfer money from your bank account into your PayPal account, and then use it to pay merchants. This ensures that you are only trusting PayPal with the details of your financial accounts and not ever online store you make a purchase from.

18. Print a copy of your order for your records.

After you submit an order, you will get a screen with details of the transaction. Print out a hard copy or save a copy as a PDF on your computer. Sometimes there is a link to a web page where you can check the delivery status. You should also receive an e-mail confirmation with details on how to inquire as to the status of your order.

Tips for Saving Before You Go To the Store:
  • See what you are spending money on now. Get an old grocery receipt and highlight all of the convenience foods, doubles of foods you already have, and food you could do without. Add it up and see how much you spent.
  • Decide what your family’s grocery budget will be and only spend the amount that you budgeted. If what you are spending now is over budget, what can you eliminate to meet your budget?
  • Only take cash. We tend to spend more when we pay for purchases with a check or credit card.
  • Post a list on your refrigerator.
  • Plan menus for the week. Plan the menu according to what’s on sale that week and go from there.
  • Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry, tired or in a hurry. People who shop when hungry tend to spend 17% more at the store.
  • Go alone – especially if your children, spouse, or significant other have a case of the ‘I wants’. Shopping with kids can result in a 30% increase in spending.

Tips for Saving While At the Store:
  • Try not to linger. The longer you are in the store; the more money you’ll spend.
  • Avoid pre-cut fruit and vegetables because they are more expensive.
  • Beware of the expensive items. The most expensive items are at eye level of a 5’4″ woman. The least expensive items are on the top and bottom shelves.
  • Limit impulse items. Put impulse items in the child seat area of the cart. That way, you won’t buy as many because there isn’t much room.
  • Consider the store brands. National chains make most store brands. If your family eats one or more boxes of cereal a week, you can save $100 a year buying store brand cereal.
  • Limit convenience items. The more steps you are willing to take for yourself, the lower your grocery bill will be.
  • Buy store-brand over the counter medications.

Online Shopping Tips –
Use your common sense when shopping online. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do when dealing with a mail-order company. Designate one credit card only for e-commerce. If the number is stolen, it’s easier to cancel one card than several.
  • Check out the merchant’s reliability. Read the company’s privacy policy and security policies before you buy. Look for the Trust-e symbol or a BBB online seal.
  • Set a budget. You may be on a virtual shopping trip, but remember, you are spending real money; decide what you can afford to spend before you log on.
  • Make sure the company has a physical location. Make sure you have the company’s address and phone number. Before making a purchase, call the number to verify the information you were supplied on the company’s web page.
  • Determine the company’s refund and return policies.
  • Be smart about creating passwords. If you are required to create an account with a password, never use the same password you use for other accounts or sites. Don’t reveal your password in response to unsolicited emails.
  • Never give out your social security number or personal bank account information.
  • Print out a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records.
  • Know your rights! The same laws protect you in cyberspace that protects you when you shop by phone or mail.
  • Only use secure servers. You can tell a secure server by the presence of the whole security key (not broken) symbol at the bottom of the screen.  
Clothes Shopping Tips – 
Americans, on average, spend approximately 5% of their net income on clothing and its care. How much you spend should be determined or related to the amount of wear the item will receive. The more times you wear it, the cheaper it becomes.
Money Saving Clothing Tips:
  • Visit thrift and consignment stores for bargains.
·         Trendy clothing will go out of style before you get full wear out of it.
·         Buy second-hand maternity and children’s clothes.
·         Take good care of your clothes.
·         Mothproof your woolens when you store them for the summer months.
·         Wash silk blouses and sweaters in cold water. They may not need to be dry-cleaned.
·         Don’t use too much laundry detergent; it will weaken the fibers in your clothing.
·         Shop wisely.
·         Coordinate your wardrobe with interchangeable pieces.
·         Take time at the beginning of each season to determine what needs to be added to your wardrobe and how it will fit in with what you already have.
·         Choose darker color outerwear for less frequent dry cleaning.
·         Don’t forget about your shoes.
·         Have shoes resoled to prolong the life of the shoes.
·         Have tips put on the bottom of shoes to save the heel from wearing.
·        Spray shoes and purses with weather protector
·         Keep an old pair of shoes in the car to wear when driving.

Appliance Shopping Tips – 
Buying a major appliance, such as a new refrigerator, stove, or hot water heater is a major expense in a family’s budget. Ask yourself the following questions before you shop for major appliances:
  • How much capacity or performance does your family need?
  • Which extra/costly features are unnecessary?
  • How large is the space allotted for the appliance?
  • Are there any physical limitations that must be considered?
  • Which style do you prefer?
  • Which style will be the most energy efficient?

Things to Consider When Buying:
Dishwashers –
  • Style
·         Do you need an under-the-counter or portable dishwasher? You’ll need a portable model if you lack counter space. A portable dishwasher offers the most flexibility because it can be used either way.
  • Size
·         Don’t choose a dishwasher that’s too big for your needs; why spend extra money if you don’t have to? Carefully measure the area where it will be installed before ordering.
  • Cleaning Cycles
·    A flexible wash cycle can mean energy savings to you.

Gas/Electric Ranges –
  • Gas or Electric
·     How is your house set up? You will need to consider the cost to run a gas line or electric line and figure that in the cost of the stove.
  • Traditional coil burner ranges are the least expensive to buy.
  • Gas ranges cost a bit more to buy, but they are less expensive to operate than electric models.
Microwaves –
  • It is generally wise to choose the largest size microwave that will fit in your kitchen. It will accommodate your largest dishes and grow with your needs. The more power your microwave has, the faster it will cook your food. Compare the watts when shopping for a microwave. Average power is 800 watts. The general range available is 600-1100 watts.

Refrigerators –
  • Design
·         Top Freezer – These models are easy to find and are inexpensive to buy and operate.
·         Bottom Freezer – These models are not as common, so they may be a bit more expensive. They are very inexpensive to operate because they are very energy efficient.
·         Side-By-Side – These models are more expensive to buy and operate than a top freezer.
  • Size
·         Evaluate your present and future needs when selecting the size. In general, refrigerators with a capacity between 18 – 21 cu. ft. are popular choices and sufficient for most households.
  • Ice Makers and Water Dispensers
·         Ice making units actually help you save electricity. Many people spend more time with the door open to make or get ice cubes than for any other reason. Models that allow you to get ice and water through the door help cut down on the frequency of opening the doors altogether, saving you more electricity.

Back To School Shopping Tips – 
For moms and dads, the end of summer means that it’s back to school time. Back-to-school shopping can wreak havoc on both a parent’s nerves and wallet. You can prepare your kids for school without breaking the bank. In addition, your children can actually benefit from the shopping experience. School shopping is a great opportunity to teach kids how to be wise consumers.
Determine What Needs To Be Purchased:
  • Go through each child’s closet and have them try on clothes to see what still fits.
  • Where possible, repair current clothes; buttons, patches, zippers, etc.
  • Compile a list of clothing and accessories to be purchased for each child, involving your child in the process. Include items such as backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, etc.
  • Create a master list of school supplies for all of your children. These can be purchased together.

Set Budgets:
  • Decide on appropriate dollar amounts to spend on each child.
  • Estimate the total expense for the items currently on your list. If you are over-budget, look for places to trim.
  • With your child, set priorities on purchases. Explain the amount you have to spend. If there is a particular item they have to have, help them adjust their budget elsewhere.
  • Encourage your children to save some money for after the school year begins. That way, they will still have funds for an overlooked ‘must-have’ item.

Shop Smart:
  • Start setting aside money as soon as possible so you don’t have to foot the whole bill at once. Whenever possible, pay with cash. If you must charge items, make sure you can pay off your charges within three months.
  • Take each child separately shopping for clothes.
  • Comparison shop. Shop early for school uniforms. The stores may run out of your child’s required colors or size.
  • Many schools run uniform exchange programs.
  • Check out consignment stores.
  • Watch for sales on school supplies, clothes, and shoes.


Popular Posts