Shopping is inevitable. There are so many things that we buy because we absolutely need them and so many things just because we want them (if we’re being real).
However, if you’re shopping on a budget, it’s especially important to shop smart and save the most money possible.
Taking a few minutes (literally!) to make sure you’re doing all of these things before buying anything will save you thousands of dollars over time. They’re super simple and easy things that anyone can and should do. Otherwise, you’re leaving hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the table.
If you’re going to spend money shopping, maximize how much you’re saving. Just think, the money you save from doing your normal shopping can help you save enough to finally start chipping away at your debt, put towards your retirement or child’s college fund, or even pay for an awesome vacation.
Here are 6 things you must do everytime you shop if you really want to save some serious cash.
Ask yourself some very important questions
We’ve all made impulse purchases. Remember that time you went into the store to buy a phone charger and ended up walking out with a brand new phone? Or maybe that exact situation has never happened to you before but you know exactly what I’m talking about. In order to avoid impulse purchases, stop and ask yourself these questions before buying anything.
- Do I need it?
- Will I really use it?
- Can I afford it?
- Can I really afford it?
- Am I trying to buy it only because it’s on sale or it’s a ‘good’ deal?
Unless it’s an absolute need, try to hold off and think about it for a week. Most times, you’ll either forget about it all together or realize that you didn’t really need it. Doing this will not only save you a lot of money but also buyer’s remorse!
Do your research and shop around
Before you buy anything, make sure to shop around. A little effort into researching the best price can save you some major cash.
It’s so easy to do a price comparison these days considering we all have Google (or Bing!) at our fingertips. Just take a minute and enter the name of the item you’re trying to buy in the search engine. A list of prices from several popular retailers will come up and you can even find more options on the shopping tab.
When I was shopping for a stroller I typed in Baby Jogger City Mini GT. It’s usually $359.99 but it was on sale for 305.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohls. I clicked on both links and discovered that Kohl’s was offering $90 worth of Kohl’s cash. That’s a total savings of $144 that I wouldn’t have known about if I didn’t do a quick search first.
Use a discounted gift card
Discounted gift cards are a well-kept secret that everyone should know about. It’s one of the easiest ways to instantly save on a purchase even on top of a sale.
There are many gift card marketplaces out there but my favorite is Raise.com because their gift cards are backed by a 1-year guarantee. They have gift cards to hundreds of retailers and restaurants like Starbucks, Lowes, Longhorn Steakhouse, and TJ Maxx just to name a few of my favorites. Discounts for each card ranges from 0.5% – 50% off.
So before heading out to the store, make sure to check out Raise to see if they offer a gift card at a discount that’s worth your while. Sometimes I’ll even look at Raise right before checking out because they offer a ton of instant e-gift cards.
Buying these gift cards are awesome because you buy them at a discount and on top of that you can still take advantage of using coupons. This will definitely help you make the most out of your money which is every budgeter’s goal.
Pro Tip: Only buy discounted gift cards if you’ll be using it in the near future
Get cash back
Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, always always ALWAYS check cash back websites and apps to see if you can get any money back for shopping at your favorite stores. It’s literally free and easy cash that you earn by doing your normal shopping at stores like Amazon, Old Navy, and Walmart to name a few. I’ve used cash back websites for 8 years now and have earned over $1,300!
There are a ton of them out there but the ones that I use the most are Ebates, Ibotta, and Swagbucks.
I love Ebates because they offer cash back for in-store and online purchases for over 1,800 stores. Find out more about how to save through Ebates.
Ibotta is awesome because you can use it to get cash back on groceries. However, they also offer cash back when you shop online at 300+ stores. Learn more about Ibotta here.
Swagbucks is another great site that you can use while shopping online. It works similarly as Ebates. They also have multiple ways that you can earn more cash back like completing surveys, printing out grocery coupons, and using them as your search engine.
Look for discounts
In order to get the very best deals, I always try to buy things when I have a coupon or when there’s a sale.
You can usually do a quick search online to see if there are any applicable coupons by searching the store name and adding the word coupon or promo code.
You could also visit the retailer’s website and see if they offer a coupon for joining their mailing list.
Coupons are a wonderful way to save money, but using a coupon with a sale is even better. Keep an eye out for sales during holidays and try to buy things at the end of the season if it’s a seasonal item.
Check every receipt thoroughly
I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve been charged for something that I shouldn’t have been. A few dollars here add up to a couple hundred dollars in no time. Thank goodness that I’m pretty good about reviewing my receipts. Otherwise, I would have lost out on thousands of dollars!
Take the extra step and review every receipt to ensure you were charged the correct price for the correct quantities and that any discounts and promotions were applied.
Checking your receipt takes less than a minute and I promise you that you’ll catch mistakes that would have been costly.