Shopping can be an enjoyable experience, but it isn’t always. Sometimes it’s stressful or downright challenging. Financial barriers, as well as crafty advertising and sales tactics, can leave you struggling to get the things you need without breaking into your savings. Shopping should be as simple as purchasing something you want or need, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The following will break down some basic tips and tricks that can help you save money and get the things you need faster and easier.
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Since 2020, many stores and online shopping outlets have developed new rules to support the reduction in the risk of spreading viruses. Some stores require hand sanitization upon entry or masks and social distancing. Some stores require you to walk in only one direction, following the guidance of arrows along the floor. Some stores have barriers put in place to protect their staff that you should avoid leaning over or reaching beyond.
Another big part of respecting the regulations is following self-isolation or quarantine protocols. Many people are required by law to quarantine in a hotel or isolated living situation when first arriving in a new place. If this is you, do all your shopping online, select only door delivery options with advanced digital payment so that you don’t need to risk the delivery driver’s health either.
There’s a reason this is a classic rule: it works. If you’re looking at food while you’re hungry, there’s a much bigger chance that you’re going to overspend and overindulge, resulting in food that’s going bad because you can’t actually eat it all in a reasonable time frame and food that’s unhealthy. This is because when we’re hungry, we’re drawn to foods that release energy quickly into the system: chips, chocolates, donuts, bread, pasta, and other quick carbs. Save yourself the trouble by having a snack or full meal before you go shopping.
This trick is really nifty, and you’ll be surprised how often it works. If you can manage to wait a few extra days for an online purchase, consider putting the items you want into the digital cart and then leaving the store. That’s right; fill the cart and leave. Sometimes (not all the time, but often enough), there are algorithms designed to target folks just like you: people who came really close to buying something but then didn’t. One common solution online stores use to encourage those near-sales is to email you a discount. That’s right. You might end up with 30% just because you left something sitting in a digital cart.
Given the rise in online and digital shopping, marketers who design sales and coupons are needing to pivot and quickly. If you’re someone who loves clipping coupons, you’re going to love hunting down online discounts just as much. There are some great deals and savings to be found for online shops if you figure out where to look. There are even discounts for instant delivery stores, so you don’t have to wait days or weeks for your order to arrive.
While this one doesn’t pertain to shopping per se, it has a massive effect on it. If you’re someone who gets pulled into shopping for things you don’t need (or honestly even want) or often falls into the paying way more for convenience traps, this tip might help you out. Many of us have the goal of saving more money, but the problem with that is it’s abstract and doesn’t come with a shiny image as that new gadget does. Focus instead on what you’re saving up for. Is it a home? A car? A comfortable retirement? Your kid’s future? Find an image that represents that goal and keep the image inside your wallet. This way, when you’re opening your wallet up to make a purchase, you can ask yourself: would I rather have taken it out right now? Or a car that feels safe to drive on the road? This simple trick can help curb the bad sort of spending.
This seems like another simple one, but it can help you curb your spending even further. What you can do, is calculate the cost of something into the hours it took you to earn that money. Let’s say you make $15 dollars an hour and your friends want to go out to a restaurant that you know is going to end up costing you $45 in food and drinks and $30 in foolish downtown parking. You can ask yourself if one meal is worth five hours of work. This method can also help you value items more accurately. For example, with that same $15 dollar an hour wage, a bookcase that costs $75 suddenly seems like a pretty decent deal even though you felt that was a bit pricey when you first saw the price tag.
Set a dollar limit that you will not spend impulsively. Let’s say you choose $50 as your limit. This means that to buy anything that costs more than $50, you’ll have to wait and buy it three days from now, or two weeks from now. Write the item down on a list on your phone or fridge, as well as the date by which you’ll allow yourself to buy it. You’ll be shocked by how often you return to the list, and suddenly you don’t want the thing you wrote down anymore—the sales clerk or the snazzy advertisement or that “helpful” YouTube video that was actually just an ad is no longer in front of you, so you don’t feel pressured.
The above tips should help you shop in the modern era, both in-store and in online shops. Of course, every person is different, and their financial situation is also going to be a little bit different. For the best results, use these tips in tandem with a budget you’ve made specifically for your situation.