Shopping is one of those activities that many people do either out of frustrated necessity, or as retail therapy. With such emotional states of mind, it is really difficult to shop right – keeping your budget and essentials in mind. You want to avoid being a compulsive buyer, but you also do need to go shopping at a good amount to keep your closet and home healthy and happy. That is why we wanted to provide you with a list of ten great shopping tips to help you shop smart!
1. Make A List.
Before you head out on your shopping expedition, make a list. There are several reasons why this is important. For one, you do not want to overspend or buy things you do not need because you have not prepared properly. This is your hard-earned cash! You do not want to be spending it on things you will not use. You also do not want to go all the way out to a shopping expedition and come home to realize you have forgotten a crucial item on the list. You also do not want to be wandering around in all the stores in the mall, looking for things to buy. You definitely need to do some thinking before leaving your home. This means creating a list of things that are needed. If it is groceries – take a glance at the fridge or pantry before heading out – see what you really do need. If it is clothes – glance at your closet and see if you need new pants, black tank tops, button downs for work, underwear. It may also be the garage, or just items around the house – make sure you find the genuine needs, and not frivolous items that would be fun to have. Next, go over the stores you will need to visit in order to get all your missing items, so that you do not need to go into unnecessary stores. After making this list, make sure to take it with you! You want to review it while you shop.
2. Plan Your Budget.
The Budget is a crucial and difficult part of the shopping process. You must set a ballpark figure (or a more precise one if you can!) on what you are going to spend on this shopping expedition. You must consider what you are comfortable with spending, what you can allow yourself to spend, and what makes sense for you to spend. In order to feel good about this shopping trip and the things you purchase – even long after the expedition is over- it is crucial that you set your budget and stick to it! Make sure not to exceed your budget limit because you do not want to associate guilt or regret with this trip, and you definitely want to make sure you can afford to pay rent (or mortgage) after it so that you have a place for all of your new purchases!
3. Pay With Cash.
Research HAS been done on this topic and the results show that we spend 20-50% more when we purchase things with plastic (and by plastic I mean debit and credit cards). Something about hanging over that plastic card makes us feel like we aren’t really spending money, or that the money is endless. When you shop with cash, it reconnects you with the shopping experience. If you leave the house with $200 and you see it slowly (or not so slowly) emptying out of your wallet, it makes the spending process more visually realistic and dramatic. This way, you will make sure that you are buying things you genuinely need and are not overspending.
4. Pick The Right Time to Go.
Shopping can be very stressful and tiring. That is why it is crucial to go at a time that is comfortable for you. Try to go at times when the mall or supermarket is not too busy, if you can. Large amounts of people in your space and competing for the same items can increase the stress levels and cause you to become more irritable, which leads to impulsive purchases and speedy, neglectful shopping. Pick a time to shop at which you will be most alert and positive, and make sure to take breaks when shopping in order to avoid being fatigued. This will ensure that you stay sharp and keep shopping smart.
5. Set a Timeframe.
When you go shopping, make sure you have a time limit. Do not let yourself wander around the shopping center aimlessly. This will make you walk into unnecessary stores and purchase unwanted and unnecessary things. If you want to shop smart – do not meander about! Set a timeframe in which to complete your shopping expedition and once that time is over, you head home. Your time is too precious to be just wasted away wandering about. Once you have purchased everything on your list, turn your attention to the next task on your to-do list!
6. Shop Alone.
While shopping with a partner may sound more enjoyable, it can make you shop less smart. Shopping accomplices may influence us into buying things we do not want or need. They may have their own (sometimes unconscious) motives for encouraging us to shop, whether it be a sense of competition or the pull to live vicariously through us and our purchase. No matter the reason, that individual does not have to live with the consequence of the purchase that was made – only you do. That is why it is dangerous to go shopping with a partner. If you do want to go to the mall with friends as a social event, do not allow yourself to purchase anything. Window shop, maybe grab something to eat at the food court, but do not buy anything until you can go alone.
7. Do Not Shop While You Are Emotional!
Being tired, hungry, lonely, bored, or upset may cause us to overshop. We may buy things that we do not want or need! These are the most common triggers that cause us to want to go shopping – retail therapy, anyone? But these emotions will lead us to shop not in a smart and thought out way. If you are feeling these emotions – do not go shopping (this includes online shopping as well!) Do some other activity-like exercising, going to coffee with a friend, or reading a book – until you feel more emotionally level.
8. Always Ask Yourself If You Really Need It.
Many of us make purchases impulsively, going on a gut feeling without thinking whether we need or even want it. Your time and hard earned cash are wasted on things that you don’t even have room for in your house! One trick you can use when contemplating a purchase is to imagine that you already have the item. Imagine that you already purchased it, and that it is at your house. Consider – are you still excited about it? It is sitting in your closet – are you really wearing it? So many of us don’t consider whether we really need an item, and then once we purchase it, it just sits in our house, unused. So next time – use this trick. See if you can imagine yourself already having owned this item, and whether you will truly use it.
9. Just Because It Is On Sale Does NOT Mean You Should Buy It!
Sales are dangerous because they make you think you need something or will use something and should purchase something just because it costs less than it normally would. It may even convince you that you can afford it just because it costs 50% less, or that you are “saving money”. It is important to keep in mind that a bargain is not a bargain if it does not fit you correctly, you do not love it, or it is not something you actually need…Spending money on a tshirt, or shoes, or a scented candle, or a batman lock or anything you would never wear even if it costs just $10 is a waste of those $10 that could go towards something else you would use. And going mass shopping for a lot of things that cost $10? It adds up. You wouldn’t throw $20 out the window so do not spend them on something you would never use just because it was on sale. Only purchase an item that is on sale if it is something that you need, on your list, and within your budget!
10. It is the Sales Person’s Job to Make You Buy It.
The sales person may have a great smile, and be so nice and understanding – but keep in mind that their whole goal is to make you buy the item. They may really care that the items you buy suit you, and will be useful to you, but most of all they want you to buy something. Or they want to make sure you will come back, so that next time – you will buy something. So just keep in mind that no matter how helpful and charming they are, these sales people are not your friends! So when you are buying something, be aware of this fact, and pause and think to yourself: Am I buying this item because I need it or because an effective sales person talked/guilted me into it?
So there you have it! Top 10 Shopping Tips that will help you shop smarter. Remember to make a list of the things you want to buy and generally plan out your shopping expedition, like which shops to visit. You can even research what shops have the cheapest or best type of what you are looking for! Remember, also, to set a budget and a time-frame for the expedition, and stick to those plans! Don’t let those sales and promotions signs distract you, and do not go if you are emotional or stressed in any way (unless it is the supermarket and you will starve if you don’t). You want to make sure that you are in your right mind in order to avoid impulsive purchases so as not to waste your money or time on things you will never use or do not need.
And keep your eyes open for our article about how to shop for the holidays – a stressful and emotional time filled with overspending and gifts!
Happy shopping and good luck out there!