10 Budget-Friendly Shopping Tips for the Savvy Shopper

A few smart shopping strategies can help you stretch your budget further. These tips are easy to implement and don’t require specialized training to save money.

Stick to your shopping list and avoid impulse purchases. Think about how long the items you are purchasing will last — food that goes bad is not a bargain.

1. Plan Your Shopping Trips

The best way to save money on a shopping trip is to make a list and stick to it. This will help you avoid overspending and buying items that you don’t need. Explore the Top shopping destinations worldwide so that you will know where to go and get what you need and want.

Another tip is to avoid impulse purchases, which can quickly derail your budget. Retailers often place tempting impulse merchandise on end caps and near the checkout lines, so try to stay away from these areas.

It’s also a good idea to eat before you go shopping, so you don’t spend extra money on food. And be sure to take a small wallet with only the amount of cash you need for your shopping trip. This will help you avoid using credit cards, which can add up quickly. If you do have a credit card, try to only use it for necessities. This will help you build up a good credit history and avoid high-interest debt.

2. Shop Online

Online shopping offers a lot of convenience and can be great for finding deals. But it can also be a money pit if you aren’t careful.

When you shop online, stick with products shipped and sold directly by the retailer (or their affiliates). Avoid third-party sellers that may not be reputable or trustworthy. Read seller and item reviews before buying.

Try price-aggregator apps or browser extensions to help you compare prices. Look for coupon codes and other special offers from stores or loyalty programs, too.

Stock up on non-perishable items that you use regularly when they are at their lowest prices, such as shampoo or toilet paper. This can save you loads in the long run. However, only do this if you have space to store what you buy. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of money!

3. Look for Sales

Sometimes you can’t resist a good deal. But before you say yes to an item, make sure it’s on your list and fits in your budget. And always try it out before you buy it. That way, if it doesn’t work, you can return it or find something that works better.

Some high-quality items, like winter coats or swimsuits, are much cheaper when they’re out of season. Also, certain electronics like smartphones may have better deals once a newer model is released.

Keep an eye out for sales at local stores and online, too. But beware of marketing gimmicks, such as “Buy one, get one free” deals that may not be true discounts. Keeping track of prices by making a price book can help you see through these false advertising claims. You can also use apps and browser extensions like Ibotta or CapitalOne Shopping to earn money back on your purchases.

4. Shop Around

The savvy shopper understands that price comparisons are important. Taking just a minute or two to visit online price aggregators before you make any purchases can save you a few dollars on items like shampoo or free shipping on your next order.

Also, be conscious of when certain items are on sale. You can often find better deals on things like winter coats and bathing suits when they are no longer in season.

Don’t forget to check out store and manufacturer coupons before you buy. Apps and browser extensions like Honey are a great option, as they will automatically search for coupon codes when you go to shop. You can also find great cashback offers on grocery items by joining a grocery loyalty program. This can also help you avoid overspending on things like meat. Aim for smaller sizes when buying fresh produce, and consider replacing some of your staple items with no-name or store brands.

5. Look for Discounts

You can save a lot of money by looking for discounts, both online and at physical stores. It may take a little more time to shop around and compare prices, but it’s worth it in the long run.

You should also make a list of items you need, which will help avoid impulse purchases. It’s also a good idea to check for online coupons.

Another tip is to buy bulk items when they are on sale. For example, it’s a good idea to stock up on things like shampoo or cereal when they are at their lowest price. Also, it’s a good idea to read reviews before buying an item, especially expensive ones like clothing or electronics. This way you can get a better idea of the quality of the product and whether it’s worth its price tag.

6. Shop at Off-Peak Hours

A good budget helps you distinguish between things you need and things you want. It also gives you a set amount to spend and moves purchases out of the impulse category into the planned purchase one. It’s easy to get pulled in by a cute new pair of shoes or a football game ticket on sale, but these aren’t necessarily a smart financial move.

When possible, try to avoid shopping at peak times. Similarly, don’t shop when you’re hungry or tired, as these can cause impulsive purchases. You can also try to avoid swiping your credit card for things you don’t need by using the cash envelope budget technique, or simply carrying only the amount of cash you have earmarked for spending that month. Avoid shopping when you’re feeling emotional or stressed, too. This can lead to rash decisions that could cost you more in the long run.

7. Avoid Impulse Purchases

Buying things you don’t really need can take away from your financial goals. Even if those purchases feel good in the moment (like football tickets or new shoes), they’ll add up over time and can derail your plans for retiring early or getting out of debt.

One way to avoid impulse spending is to budget for it. Adding “fun money” to your budget can help you avoid overspending and buy what you really want.

Another way to avoid impulse purchasing is to shop with cash only. Some people who use this technique find that it makes them think twice about spending because they can see how their money is dwindling. It also increases intentionality and awareness. You can try it for a day or a week to see if it helps reduce your buying habits.

8. Look for Discounts at Online Stores

Online shoppers can use a variety of tools to save on purchases. These include browser extensions and apps that track prices, locate coupons and more. Some apps even compare prices across different online stores for you. Free shipping may seem like a great deal, but Ellwood warns buyers to do the math and make sure they are really saving money with a purchase.

The best way to avoid impulse purchases is to plan ahead for big expenses and stick with a budget template for daily purchases. If possible, avoid shopping with friends who are prone to pleasure buying and be aware of seasonal sales and other discounts that occur during specific times of the year. This way, you can focus on getting the most bang for your buck. For example, end-of-season sales often offer big savings on items that are nearing the end of their lifespan.

9. Shop Local

The cheapest grocery items are often found in the produce section of your local store. Look for locally grown, in-season fruits and veggies to save money. Plus, supporting local growers helps the community and the environment.

Another way to help avoid impulse purchases is to figure out how many hours of work you’ll need to put in to pay for the item. This will make you think twice before purchasing something you don’t really need.

One final tip to help you avoid impulse purchases is to shop alone. This will prevent you from being tempted by your friends’ pleasure shopping. Additionally, some stores offer a discount for shoppers who bring their own bags. That could be five to 10 cents per bag. Keep reusable bags in your car to take advantage of this savings opportunity.

10. Look for Coupons

Whether you shop online or in person, make it a habit to price compare.  Some stores also offer loyalty programs that provide exclusive discounts and cash back offers. These programs can save you a lot of money, especially on groceries.

Beware of sites that exclude coupon-eligible products or aren’t user-friendly. For example, Apple is notorious for not accepting coupons, and navigating their site to find the right item can be a challenge. Likewise, some department stores have very specific exclusions that make it difficult to use coupon codes. To avoid these hassles, try using a browser extension that tracks discount codes for you.