Whether it’s picking up groceries, hitting the mall for new clothes or checking out a big screen television, our brains can trick us into spending way more than we need to actually be happy. More than that, advertising giants are becoming experts on finding the exact way to make you want to spend more. We’ve pulled together 10 tips to help you shop smarter and save more.
Do Your Math
This is especially true in the supermarket where you should be comparing numbers like cost per weight. In general, sales and ads will try to get you to focus on how much you can save, while obscuring how much you’ll still be spending. A hundred dollar purchase is still a hundred dollars, regardless of whether it was on sale. The same goes for a name brand can of beans that’s still more expensive than its store brand counterpart.
Go It Alone
It can be tough to check the impulse buys with a friend or partner in tow. With friends, they don’t know what your personal finances are like or how you’re currently trying to budget. Suggestions to go for the thing that will seemingly make you happy comes from a well-intentioned place, but it might throw a wrench in your larger goals. For partners, you may feel bad disappointing them when they walk through a store and find something they like, but that you can’t particularly afford.
List it Out
Leaving things to chance means over-buying or getting things you don’t actually need. That goes for grocery store food, home goods, hardware store buys and more. If you have some big ticket items you’d like to purchase this year, make a ranked list to work off of, too.
Do you really need a brand new version of the thing you’re looking at? Many big ticket items lose a ton of value the second they become ‘used.’ This is true for everything from cars and trucks to designer bags. If you feel self conscious about buying second-hand, ask yourself how anyone could possibly tell that you haven’t been the one using it this whole time.
Hungry, Stressed & Tired
Specifically, avoid shopping while you’re feeling any of these three. You’ll want to rush through without taking your time. You may purchase items or food just to make yourself feel better. Plus, wouldn’t you rather be doing something else more relaxing?
Pull Out the Phone
If we’re going to carry around these miniature supercomputers in our pockets, we might as well use them to look up online reviews! Looking at sleeping bags for your next camping trip? Compare brands and temperature ratings. Want to know whether that fancy shampoo is worth the few extra bucks? See what other people really say about it.
Know Your Holidays
There are actually lists online of which appliances and larger items tend to go on sale throughout the year. If you think your washer is wearing out, see if you can be a little proactive and save hundreds of dollars. Doing your research on brands in advance of the holiday also means you can make a fast purchase and get out of the store and onto celebrating.
Wait a Day
Prone to impulse buys? Institute a one-day delay rule. That bit of distance and time could help you feel less like you’re letting impulse buys control you.
Tell People Your Goals
It’s harder to explain your new luxury car to friends if you’ve already told them that you’ve been trying to be smarter with money. We know that this can feel a little uncomfortable in some cases, but that’s what your social network (the real life one) is there for. Talking about money and personal finance doesn’t have to be taboo. How else are we going to share the many things we’ve learned along the way? Financial success tips don’t need to only come from the ‘gurus,’ either. Sharing your money-related goals with the people who know you best may just open up lines of communication for useful advice.
Identify the Lures
Make a game out of identifying the different ways stores and retailers try to get you to buy things! There’s an ongoing debate about why dairy is in the back of grocery stores. Lip balm and batteries line the checkout aisles, too. Costco funnels people through their warehouse in a specific pattern. It can be kind of fun to play spot-the-sales-tactic.