If you’re feeling the effects of inflation, you’re not alone. Generally cost of services and goods rose up 3.7% in the last 12 months only, before seasonal adjustment. This is higher than the previous increase of 3.2%.
With the cost of living higher than ever, it’s no surprise that many people are looking for ways to cut costs, especially when it comes to shopping. GOBankingRates spoke with personal finance experts Kendall Meade, CFP. SoFiTanya Peterson, vice president To succeedand consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch Andrea Woroch I Money Saving Expertabout the best ways save money while shopping.
Here’s what they said.
Use Credit Wisely
Generally speaking, it’s better to avoid using a credit card or otherwise getting into debt when shopping. That’s why you should try to buy only things you can afford right now.
“Avoid making purchases that you cannot pay for immediately. If you don’t pay your full statement each month, you’re paying interest,” Meade said. “As of the second quarter of 2023, credit card balances increased by $45 billion, reaching $1.03 trillion. The average credit card interest rate is 20.68%. A $1,000 purchase that you pay at 20% interest over a year could cost you $1,200 in total. That’s the extra $200 the product actually costs you.”
Leaving credit cards behind and carrying cash is a great way to avoid purchases you can’t afford.
“Consider shopping with cash only,” Meade said. “Studies show you’ll spend less if you use cash instead of a credit card, because handing over cash is more painful than swiping your card.”
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When Should You Use a Credit Card?
However, there are times when credit can benefit your potential savings, such as on electronics and groceries.
“To save money on any electronics purchase, skip the extended warranty. Woroch said most devices won’t need repairs during the extended warranty period. “Instead, use a credit card that offers free warranty extensions to get additional coverage at no additional cost.”
For groceries, Woroch recommends using a credit card that offers rewards or cash back on groceries.
“For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® card offers 6% cash back [U.S.] up to $6,000 in annual grocery shopping at supermarkets and the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards credit card. [offers] 3% cash back on food and grocery shopping, [excluding Target and Walmart]said Woroch. “Always compare credit card rewards programs on sites like CardRates.com to find the one that will give you the best return based on where you spend the most or what you buy the most.”
Use Free Loyalty Programs
Many retailers offer free loyalty programs. If you’re a frequent shopper, this can result in huge discounts and savings. In some cases, these programs can actually earn you extra money that you can then use for other purchases.
“Take advantage of CVS Pharmacy’s free loyalty programs like ExtraCare to receive exclusive and personalized coupons and earn money back on personal care and healthcare purchases,” Woroch said. “For example, CVS is offering a $50 ExtraBucks Reward for filling prescriptions and getting a flu shot. If you’re planning any of these purchases, you can easily score rewards that can cover other daily needs on your shopping list to cut costs even further.
Use Discount Apps or Coupons
Coupons and discount apps can help you save money when shopping for everything from groceries to gas. The great thing about these is that you can now do most things online, making them easier than ever.
“I know you’re probably thinking, I don’t have time to coupon,” Meade said. “But this can be so easy now that everything is digital. Your store may have its own app with digital coupons you can clip. There are also discount applications: Bring RewardsThis allows you to get the money back by simply scanning your receipt!
Make Specific Budgets and Lists
When creating your personal budget, consider your expenses such as food, vacation, accommodation expenses, etc. It may help to classify them according to categories such as.
For travel, for example, Peterson said: “Create a vacation budget that lists all costs. Be prepared to change dates, accommodations, locations or activities to stay within budget.”
You can adjust your travel budget according to your needs, and you can do the same for other types of shopping. Try to stay within your budget as much as possible to avoid overspending.
While you’re at it, make a list when you go shopping. Follow this list closely, but don’t be afraid to make some changes.
“Be prepared to (carefully) see you off your list. Whether you’re shopping at a neighborhood store or a warehouse club, planning and having a list is important. But you can also try working on items that are on sale and really great deals that you find,” Peterson said.
Shop at Discount Stores
“Shop at discount stores like Aldi, Costco or Sam’s [Club]said Meade. Such stores tend to offer lower prices than other retailers.
Peterson also recommended joining a membership warehouse club. “Singles, couples and older people may stay away from them because they assume things only come in bulk. In fact, many things come in smaller quantities, many food items do not disappear as easily, and you will find many individually packaged groceries.” You can also share your purchases with friends or family members to ensure nothing goes to waste and further reduce costs.
Buy from the Market
Arranging for grocery pickup can save you money if you do it right.
“I know this may seem counterintuitive because sometimes there is a small fee for grocery shopping. But when I go grocery shopping, I only buy the things I planned on my list. This allows me to avoid impulse buys and only buy items I really need,” Meade said.
“You can also see your total before you checkout, allowing you to make trade-offs to stay under your budget,” Meade added. “Personally, I find that when I shop in a store, my average grocery bill is $100-$150 a week, but when I order for pickup, it’s closer to $50.”
Looking to save money on food? Meal planning can be helpful, especially if you do it around available opportunities.
“If possible, plan menus around the discount ads your grocery store(s) run each week,” Peterson said. “Find and browse sales or sale areas in the store and see if there are any discounts on expired items that you can use right away.”
But make sure you only buy what you can use, or you could be wasting your money.
Buy Things That Last Long
When it comes to shopping, quality over quantity may not always prevail. But it definitely is when it comes to buying clothes and similar items.
To save money, especially on clothing, Woroch suggested focusing on quality and timelessness.
“This way, you’ll spend less over time because you won’t have to replace those clothing items,” Woroch said. “For fast fashion, stick to inexpensive styles. For clothing staples like t-shirts and tank tops, stick to generic store brands from big-box stores like Walmart or Target.
Woroch also suggested using resale sites like TheRealReal.com or Poshmark to find even more savings on designer brands.
Wait Before You Buy
Whether you prefer in-person or online shopping, implementing a waiting period before making a purchase can help prevent impulse purchases or buyer’s remorse.
Meade said the wait time “can be 24 hours for small purchases and up to a month for larger purchases.” “This allows you to think about the purchase and make sure you really want/need it. Meanwhile, you can see if there is a better deal.”
Take some time to compare retailers and specific products before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the best deal. One of the most important areas where you can save money is on gasoline.
“Compare fuel prices based on your location using the Gas Buddy app; This is especially useful when you are going on a road trip, for example in unfamiliar areas. You can also find cheaper gas at club stores like Sam’s Club or Costco,” Woroch said.
“Turn gas receipts into cash using a free receipt-scanning app like Fetch. You’ll earn points for each receipt you load, which can help award free gift cards to a variety of stores, including those with gas stations like Walmart and Sam’s Club, to save on future fuel needs.” it will,” Woroch added.
When shopping for other things like groceries, pay attention to unit prices. Sometimes what seems like a better deal may actually be more expensive depending on the cost per unit.
“Pay attention to unit pricing,” Peterson suggested. “Often, medium-sized packs offer better value than larger packs. Some stores display unit prices on the shelf, but often it’s just as easy and accurate to check yourself using your phone’s calculator.”
Shopping Email Unsubscribe
It’s easy to sign up for shopping emails, but they can also lead to you buying things you don’t need. Unsubscribe from all or most of your shopping emails to save money.
“Many people hesitate to do this because they don’t want to miss out on a sale, but sometimes these sales lead us to buy things we don’t really need. So it costs us more overall,” Meade said.
While doing this, get rid of any shopping apps to cut down on splurges or impulse buys.
“Remove shopping apps from your phone and/or remove your credit card,” Meade added. “This creates some friction between you and the purchase, which buys you time and effort to consider whether you actually need the product.”
Buy Used Goods
Used or refurbished items are often heavily discounted compared to purchasing new.
“Consider buying used,” Meade said. “My favorite place to shop is actually an app called Poshmark. You can buy clothes from other people that don’t want them or don’t fit, and sell things you no longer want. While pricing varies by retailer, you can usually save 50% to 70% compared to what you’d normally pay.”
Clothing isn’t the only area where you can save money by buying second-hand; Technology is another important area.
“Look for certified refurbished options to save up to 60% on technology purchases,” Woroch said. “Buy from reputable retailers like eBay and Amazon; Both have a section dedicated to certified refurbished electronics. This means they are guaranteed to work, look like new and provide extra peace of mind.”
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