I once heard a friend say that the best way to save money is to not spend it.
It’s good advice, but unfortunately, there are times you will have to step into a store to make a purchase.
The key to being a smart shopper is to avoid making these mistakes at the store:
Grabbing a cart. If you are just running into the store to pick up one or 2 things, don’t grab a cart. Instead, carry the items in your hands or a basket. A cart is too easy to lean on as you stroll through a store, and it’s way too easy to fill up with things you don’t really need.
Forgetting your list. Shopping without a list is one of the most dangerous ways to shop. You’re almost certain to end up with impulse buys and forget something that you actually needed. Bring an organized list (I like to organize by sections of the store) and use it.
Forgetting your coupons. Sometimes you’ll spot a great sale on something you need. If you have your coupons with you, there’s a good chance you can turn that sale into an even better deal. I always keep my coupon organizer with my purse, so I don’t forget.
Forgetting your reusable bags. Many stores offer discounts for bringing your own bag. You’ll be doing something good for the environment and saving a few pennies, too.
Going for the up-sell. Stores love to lure you in with a great sale price. Then when you go to pick up the sale item, you see a bigger, better item for just a little bit more money. Or sometimes you’ll see a deal that is made better when you buy additional items. Be very careful when deciding the more expensive product is worth it. Check the features, check the unit price, and think about what you already have at home before buying.
Signing on for the warranty. Many retailers will offer you extended warranties on bigger ticket items like televisions and cameras. Unfortunately, many of the warranty offers are expensive and don’t cover as well as they should. Think about the average lifespan of the item and what the cost to repair and replace it, and you’ll probably find that you can pass on the extended warranty.
Rushing through the store. When we’re in a hurry, we don’t always pay attention to the prices and are more prone to making mistakes that cost us money. Go with a list and make sure that you’re selecting the right products and using the right coupons.
Ignoring the receipt. Check the receipt to make sure you received all the discounts you deserve. Be aware of return policies in case you change your mind or if the item is damaged. Receipts aren’t just for returns – they can help you score mail-in rebates, enter sweepstakes, and offer coupons.
I’ll confess: I’ve made a few of these shopping mistakes before, I always end up paying for them. Think hard about what you’re putting in your cart.