10 Things Shoppers on a Budget Always Do


Developing smart shopping habits can help families stay on budget and save money for investments and large purchases. Walking into a store seems counterproductive to saving money, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Shopping smarter is one way a family can reduce monthly expenses and have money left over to put in savings for a significant purchase, investment, or family trip. One easy way to be a smart shopper is to compare insurance options, including budget auto insurance. Saving on insurance can help you save in many other areas, too. 

There are several tricks for becoming a smart shopper, and we’ll cover eight of them in this article. 

1. Make a Shopping List

Before grabbing the keys and heading out the front door, stop and make a list. Lists are an effective way to prevent overspending, especially for the well-disciplined shopper that can make a trip to the store without impulse buying items that are not on it.

Keeping a running list in the kitchen can be even more helpful than making a list right before the trip. That way, family members can add items they need, and whoever is doing the shopping can review the list for duplicates or unnecessary items before getting to the market.

2. Find Coupons, Rebates, and Discounts


Check local ads for sales on the list’s items or suitable substitutes. For groceries, plan to purchase sale items and create the menu based upon what needs to be purchased. 

Check the stores’ websites for additional savings in the form of coupons and rebates; you can also find handy lists online of companies who’ll send you coupons in the mail.

Online research is the fastest, easiest way to compare price shop and find discounts that apply to you

3. Sign Up for Rewards Programs

If the store has a rewards or loyalty program, join it. Most will send emails with exclusive member-only discounts and special buys. For first-time shopping at a store, check the website for a mailing list offer. Many will provide an instant, percentage-off discount just for signing up. 

This type of marketing email will have an unsubscribe link, so be sure to do so after receiving the coupon. 

Unsubscribing will eliminate the temptation to purchase a future promotional item. For online shopping, becoming a loyal member may result in free shipping or points toward future purchases.

4. Earn Points and Cashback

If used wisely, credit cards can be a great way to pay for a purchase. Many cards are available that offer cashback bonuses. 

Allowing a debt to accumulate on these cards, however, can quickly negate the residual benefits of earned points. Always pay the balance as soon as possible.

5. Pay with Cash

Unless rewards and points are particularly appealing to you, pay for purchases with cash. Some stores offer discounts for cash purchases, especially on large items. Even if they don’t, there are no finance fees or late charges with cash as is the case with credit cards.

Leaving the credit cards at home and paying for items with cash also discourages impulse buying, making it easier to stick to a budget. These little efforts add up when saving for a large purchase, such as a car or home. Every bit saved brings the reality of owning a home a tiny step closer.

6. Compare Prices

Shopping for the best price is not new, but with the aid of search engines, it reaches new heights. Comparing prices is beneficial on large purchases. Sometimes the company offers free shipping, and the total cost is substantially less than the same product bought locally.

Also, search for coupons valid at stores that carry the product. A 20% off voucher may be more valuable than free shipping, depending upon the cost of the item.

7. Shop for Refurbished, Generic, or Used


Did you know that Apple.com has a refurbished section? They do, and so do many others. If the name brand is essential, be sure to check the company’s website for a refurbished area.

Frequently, these are unopened products and are usually fully covered by warranty as though new. Many physical stores also have a refurbished section, especially for large items such as appliances.

When the name brand is not essential, shop for a generic item. Use the web to source a similar product locally and be well informed before making the transaction. It’s best to review the return policy thoroughly, in case the product doesn’t live up to expectations. 

Online stores, such as Facebook Marketplace, are great places to find used products.

8. Join a Club

If there is a warehouse store nearby, join as a member and take advantage of bulk buying to save money. Volume buying is especially useful for large families. 

To be sure the store carries the type of items your family buys, visit their website.

9. Rent or Borrow Instead of Buy

When shopping for equipment to complete a project, check the hardware store to see if they have a rental desk. It’s generally far less expensive to rent a nail gun for the day to finish the repairs in the garden than to purchase new or used. 

Plus, there’s no need to find a place to store it once the project is complete.

10. Take a Time Out

Before making a large purchase — or any purchase outside the budget — take a day to consider the impact of the purchase. If the purchase still seems like a good idea after waiting a day, give it even longer and watch for it to go on sale or speak with the store manager about a discount for paying with cash. 

By taking time out to consider the purchase, many people find it’s not as appealing as it first seemed.

When large purchases cannot be avoided, such as replacing non-working appliances, consider the cost savings that can be realized by going green. Energy-efficient appliances will save the cost of monthly utilities and most governments have a rebate and purchase programs.

Tiny Efforts Pay Off

People save money for different reasons. Some are investing for retirement, some are planning a major purchase, and some are suffering a reduction in income. 

No matter the reason, learning to shop smarter will pay significant dividends benefitting every person in the household.

Claire Hastings on Facebook
Claire Hastings
Claire Hastings is a design student, wanderer, and a writer. She writes as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about fashion, running, other cultures, and her cat.
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