The title of this post may seem like an oxymoron at first. ‘How can I save money when shopping?’ you ask. The answer is by being a smart shopper. As a smart shopper, you can save money in many different ways, even as you spend it! Using our wallet friendly shopping tips, you can save hundreds of dollars, or even thousands, each month on your shopping trips.

If you’re interested in saving money on grocery shopping trips, we’ve already got you covered. This article offers general wallet friendly, penny-pinching tips that you can use on any kind of shopping expedition!

1. Differentiate Between Needs And Wants To Save Money

An easy way to limit your shopping bill is to decide if you really need make the purchase. If it’s an expense that you need to undertake to survive, then you’re buying a ‘need’ – you can go ahead and spend the money guilt free! Examples of needs include medical purchases, food, utilities and clothes, to some extent. Alternatively, if you’re buying something that you don’t necessarily need to survive, then you are probably buying a ‘want’ and can choose to avoid or delay that purchase. Examples of wants are expenses related to entertainment (cable TV, fizzy drinks, Ideas ENG movies and high-speed internet), eating out, designer clothes, vacations and so on.

2. Plan your Gift Buying to Save Money When Shopping for the Holidays

Holiday celebrations can be real budget breakers because of all the gifts, decorations and meal preps involved. Often, upon the eve of a special occasion, people run out to the stores to buy an emergency gift. I’ve done that a few times too and unfortunately, the shopping bill is especially high if you buy your things at the last minute. That’s the price we pay for not being more organized 🙂

To avoid feeling like the holidays are your budget’s enemy, simply make a list of all the gifts you have to give out for the year and each time you are out to run an errand, compare prices and carefully make frugal decisions. When you have time to compare different brands, makes, sizes or types of gifts, you will most likely find an affordable yet perfect gift for your loved ones.

3. Sign up For Loyalty Programs To Save Money In The Long Run

In a bid to maximize sales, retailers commonly offer reward programs for loyal customers that help you save money after repeated purchases. These loyalty cards can be offered by food retailers, apparel lines, shoe shops, and even book stores. While each purchase may not seem to add much to your points, after a handful of them, you will probably be eligible for a free purchase or a gift. In the crusade to save money, every penny counts.

4. Use Discounts Coupons To Save Money

This one is pretty straight forward. Coupons, which can be found in magazines and various online websites can offer small discounts on certain types of purchases from certain retailers. If you’re lucky, you can save a lot of money using these, regardless of whether you are shopping for clothes, food, gadgets, groceries, books and a lot more.

5. Look For Sales to Save Money, But Not Always

Now this tip is so obvious, that you may be wondering why I even mentioned it. Sales can help you save money, but only if you were planning to buy that product anyway. Sales are designed to encourage purchases and it’s east to get seduced by the ‘Upto 70% off’ sign in big red fonts, but you’re a smart shopper and will simply look the other way if you don’t need that super cheap product.

However, if you wish to make a bunch of planned purchases, go after as many sales as you can. Make a list of gifts, clothes or accessories you wish to buy during the course of a year, and then patiently wait for end-of-season sales to get what you want.

For example, it is a well known fact that prices drop right after the holiday season ends, and a tad of foresight can help you save lots of money on gifts and other types of purchases.

6. Make Shopping Lists to Optimize Each Visit to the Mall

Going to the mall costs money and time. In all my trips to the mall, I have never returned empty handed or without spending a cent on food or some other thing I feel like spontaneously buying. There’s an easy way to curb wasteful spending when going shopping – make a list of everything you need and then put your blinders on as soon as you’re done buying those things. This handy tips also prevents repeated trips to the store, which carry an additional transport cost.

7. Keep your Credit Card At Home to Save Money When Shopping

Credit cards are a wonderful way to spend money impulsively. Yes, plastic money can be incredibly convenient too, like on vacations or when you plan to make a big ticket purchase but are unwilling to carry a load of cash with you. However, in most cases, we do not feel the need to carefully evaluate our purchase decisions simply because we have ‘freely available money’ on hand. A better idea would be to carry your debit card instead because you only spend what you own, but I have a better tip waiting for you next…

Before we move on to the next step, let’s remember that making frequent purchases with your credit card can help you improve your credit score, and save you money through credit card rewards. Using credit cards responsibly is the key but if you find your credit card bill balloon every month beyond control, simply leave it at home.

8. Carry Cash in your Wallet to Limit your Spending

Carrying debit cards will indeed prevent your from spending money you don’t have, but you still have instant access to all the money in your bank account, which isn’t too helpful when it comes to controlling impulse shopping.

A slightly more stringent approach to saving money is to not carry plastic money at all on your shopping trips! Carry cash.

To go a step further, when you’re prepping your wallet for your trip to the mall, don’t carry more than few dozen dollars in your wallet. This way, you will make sure you don’t overspend and will find a way to maximize the value derived from those handful of dollar bills in your pocket. In other words, you will only buy what is absolutely necessary and think twice about every buying decision, which will help you save money.

9. Avoid Shopping for Branded Items to Save Money

While expensive branded goods are often indicative of better quality, sometimes the price premiums are simply not justifiable. This goes for clothes, technology items and especially cosmetics and perfumes! I once read that major perfume retailers charge a 2000% premium on the cost of making the perfume itself. That’s outrageous. If you can find a decent-quality unbranded item that is comparable to the branded one, then common sense implores you to save big bucks and go for the unbranded item.

10. Make Price Comparisons to Get the Best Deal When Shopping

This has often happened to – we happily purchase an item, only to travel to the next shop and find they were selling it for a lower price. That peeves me, and I only have myself to blame for not doing a proper check on prices among different retailers. This holds true for items such as petrol, diesel, apparel, groceries, gifts, toys and even insurance! So instead of regretting the money you could have easily saved, be a bit careful before buying items that are readily available in the market, because competition always drives prices lower.

If you’re too busy or lazy to visit different shops, simply use price comparison tools to save yourself money on every purchase. Over time, the money adds up handsomely!

These are all the tips I have for saving money while shopping. While these tips won’t make you a professional penny-pincher, they will help you easily limit your spending without giving you budgeting burnout. It’s okay to go overboard sometimes, especially if you set aside a splurge budget, but even if you don’t, as long as you continuously strive to save money, you’re good to know. Remember that it’s a continuous journey and progress isn’t always a straight path.