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6 Tips for Being a Smart Shopper

6 Tips for Being a Smart Shopper

For many of us, savvy shopping skills aren’t things we possess. However, the good news is that it’s possible to acquire these skills as you mature into a more financially responsible adult.

Here are a few tips and concepts you should find useful:

1. Use Credit Cards for Large Purchases

There’s one school of thought that says you should stay away from credit cards altogether. If you aren’t very responsible, this is probably sane advice. Credit cards can get you in trouble by making you think you have money. However, there’s an entirely different school of thought that says credit cards are ideal for large purchases.

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The logic behind the latter theory is that there are many different rewards programs attached to credit cards. You can earn things like cash back, airline miles, gift cards, and more – which means you’re essentially saving money when using a credit card to buy big ticket items.

2. Do Research to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

It’s fairly common to hear people discuss seller’s remorse when a major financial transaction is involved. “Seller’s remorse is an emotional response that people often experience when they regret selling something they owned,” Green Residential explains. “This emotion can occur with small sales, but generally arises when large items – such as homes, cars, and businesses – are sold.”

But did you know there’s also something known as buyer’s remorse? Buyer’s remorse is actually very prevalent in small purchases. In order to avoid the regret and guilt associated with this emotion, it’s important that you do lots of research before making a purchase.

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3. Always Comparison Shop

In addition to researching the features of a product, how people feel about it, and other important details, you should also comparison shop for the best price. You’d be surprised by the price differences you can find for the same product from different sellers. Use a tool like Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, or Shopzilla to instantly get results from hundreds of different companies.

4. Make a List Before Going to the Store

When it comes to grocery shopping, you should never leave home without a list. This keeps you on track and ensures you don’t start grabbing unnecessary items. If something isn’t on your list, you should ask yourself, “Do I really need this item?” If the honest answer is “no,” practice some discipline and refrain from purchasing it.

Another valuable tip for grocery shopping is never go to the supermarket hungry. When you’re hungry, everything looks good, and you’ll end up overspending on items that looked appealing in the moment.

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5. Have a Budget (And Stick to It)

When it comes to shopping for certain needs or occasions – such as a birthday present for your mom or furniture for a new bedroom – you should always establish and a concrete budget. By making a budget beforehand, you can avoid making rash decisions. If items don’t fit into your budget, then it simply isn’t practical to purchase them.

6. Try as Soon as You Buy

As a smart shopper, return policies and warranties are your best friend, but make sure you’re taking full advantage of them. “Return policies and warranties start from the date of purchase,” says Amy Roberts of Good Housekeeping. “Even if it’s July and you bought a snowblower on clearance, plug it in to be sure it starts and seems to run well. It’s also wise to check out gifts you plan to give at a later date — do they work properly, and are all the parts in the box?”

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to be a smarter shopper! Heed these six tips and you’ll reap the benefits.

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Featured photo credit: pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Larry Alton

Business Consultant

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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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