Have you ever left a store with items that you don’t need? How about paying too much for an item only to realize there was a better, cheaper option that you unintentionally ignored?
With the endless options you pass right by at your local Walmart or Target, it’s no wonder how easy overspending can be when shopping without a plan. GOBankingRates asked experts how you can save money and shop like a pro when browsing the aisles at big-name stores.
1. Get Organized
You need to have a plan. Without one, you’re almost guaranteed to spend too much.
“Before you even set foot in the store, take a few minutes to make a list of what you need,” said Oberon Copeland, owner and CEO Of VeryInformed.com. “This will help you stay focused and avoid buying things you don’t really need.”
You should also structure the list with a budget.
“It’s easy to get carried away when you’re shopping, but if you set a budget before you start, you’ll be less likely to overspend,” said Copeland. “If you know there’s a certain aisle or section of the store that’s likely to tempt you, try to avoid it altogether. Out of sight, out of mind!”
2. Avoid Counterproductive Deals
It’s important to know that some deals are put in place to tempt people into unnecessarily buying more because they think they’re getting a good deal. According to Jay Zigmont, founder of Childfree Wealth, “The best deal is the item you do not buy. We have all seen the ‘great’ sale, where the price is marked up first and then cut in half. Or the ‘buy three, get one free’ that works out to a higher price per item.”
The best way to combat this is to stick to a strict plan on what to buy by only accepting discounts that sweeten the price of what you were already going to buy.
Zigmont even suggests to avoid entering the store altogether if it helps.
“Use curbside pickup,” he advised. “For grocery shopping and the like, use the app and set up for curbside pickup. If you don’t go in, you are less likely to buy.”
3. Spend Freely…With a Plan
Spending on ways to unwind is just as important as restocking on toilet paper — at the end of the day, it’s essential. Spending money on yourself is also one of the easiest ways that you can overspend, so doing it with a plan is the safest way to partake.
“Take your credit card off of Amazon and any ‘one-click’ type buying sites,” said Zigmont. “Instead, use a prepaid debit card with a set budget. When your budget is up, you need to wait until next month.”
4. Use a Browser Extension
For shopping online, discounts and coupon codes are plentiful from a variety of different places, especially coupons for big-name stores. A lot of coupon codes are hiding behind only a simple Google search, but finding the biggest discount is a chore in itself. Browser extensions that find discounts for you can solve this problem.
“While it’s possible the bigger retailers may be able to offer better pricing, it’s wise during these times of inflated prices to seek savings wherever possible,” said Vipin Porwel, CEO and founder of Smarty. “For example, sign up to earn rewards from cash-back websites and use their mobile app and/or browser extension while you’re shopping so you do not forget to enable it.”
5. Shop by Yourself
If you like shopping with your friends, then they may have effortlessly — and unintentionally –encouraged you to spend more money than you wanted to.
“There are a lot of folks who find that their shopping companions are more like their criminal partners!” said Luke Lee, CEO and founder of PalaLeather.
“One thing they do not have to deal with is the consequences of your purchase. It’s fine if you want to go shopping with your friends as a social activity. But, the outing should be restricted to merely socializing, with no actual shopping allowed. Window shop or grab a bite to eat together, but hold off on making a purchase until you have the opportunity to shop on your own.”
6. Compare the Cost of Brands
Although it may be most comforting to stick with what you know, being open-minded to different brands could be a good money-saving tactic.
Kavin Patel, founder and CEO of Convrrt, said, “Always do your research before committing to a certain branded purchase. There are some great brands that sell comparable goods for less money. Even if a brand is less well-known than others in comparison, you can still choose it.”
Sometimes the generic store-brand items match the bigger-brand ones in quality, so it’s important to shop around and find the best price you can.
7. Pick a Good Time To Shop
Shopping at certain times can actually be detrimental to your shopping trip — and your budget.
“If possible, skip weekend afternoons and weekday nights during peak shopping hours in favor of lower-traffic periods such as weekday mornings,” said Scott O’Brien, head of sales at PCC Ad Lab.
With lower traffic in stores, it’s easier to be an efficient shopper and more likely that good deals will still be left on shelves.
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