Tips for Smart Shopping

What does the phrase, “Shop smart”, actually mean? It means buying what you need and not wasting money in the process. It is so easy to wind up spending more than your budget allowed on certain items like clothing, entertainment and food. If you are at a loss on how to shape up your spending habits, then take a look at some tips for smart shopping: 

*Eat before you shop. This might sound silly, but going to the grocery store hungry can result in a much higher grocery bill. It can also save you from the fast food trap on the way to, or from, the store. Many people who shop when they are hungry, will end up buying things that look good to them at that moment, but are not actual necessities. 

*Make a list. When it is time to go shopping, sit down and make a list of everything you need. Go through your cabinets, refrigerator, drawers and pantry. When you get to the store, strictly adhere to the list and cross things off as you put them in your basket. Sticking to your shopping list will ensure that you pick up what you need, and will help you avoid impulse buys.

*Do you really need it? Before you impulse buy, ask yourself if you really need that item. Think about whether you have room for it in your home. Ask yourself if the item would make your life somehow better. The goal of this exercise is to reduce your impulse buys. Reducing your impulse buys leaves more money in your pocket, and keeps clutter at bay in and around your home. 

*Read the fine print. This applies to anything from cable subscriptions to joining clubs online. Before you hand over that credit card number or bank account number, read all of the information carefully. Not reading the small disclaimers can end up costing you a small mint in payments down the road. The point is to know exactly what you are paying for, and what you are getting for your hard earned money. 

*Keep a shopping journal. Yes, this means writing down everything you buy. An alternative to this is keeping track of your receipts. No, this is not about taxes. This is about knowing where your money is going each time you go shopping. This journal should go hand in hand with your budget. By seeing these records in black and white, you may be able to figure out what is frivolous spending and eliminate some of it.

*Avoid “mood” shopping trips. It is a bad idea to go shopping to make yourself feel better about a situation. Inevitably, you will end up buying more things you do not need or have room for, and less necessities. Another draw back to mood shopping is that what looks great to you when you are in a bad mood, may look terrible to you once your happy mood has returned. When this happens, you are then potentially stuck with unwanted items and less money in your pocket.

*Treat yourself on occasion. The goal of shopping smart is not depriving yourself. It is nice to buy yourself something fun once in awhile. Buying yourself a treat every now and then can boost your morale and is a good reward for all the wise decisions you make regarding your finances.

*Avoid group shopping. It might be fun to go shopping with your friends, but it can also dictate what you buy, and how much you spend. Friends have a knack for influencing each other and that includes what they buy in stores. You might find yourself purchasing something just because all of your friends bought it. This type of shopping can get costly rather quickly. So as not to discourage socializing, try going on a window shopping spree. Go to all of the boutiques, shopping centers and strip malls and simply look around. No, it is not the same as going home with bags full of goodies, but it will save you money and still let you have a fun day with friends.

As adults, people learn quickly that they have to be responsible for themselves and their survival. This concept is not always fun or easy to accomplish. One of the things many people struggle with is wise shopping habits. While it may seem like all business and little fun, learning how to shop smart is something most people come to appreciate throughout their lives.