In the current global recession, for many people, shopping is a bitter sweet experience. At once an enjoyable and nail biting activity, shopping for recreation has once again become an issue as families struggle with month to month finances. Here are five tips to have fun shopping while still being responsible.
1. Only buy what you set out for
One of the best tips we can give you is to identify what you are going shopping for before you leave the house. Don’t just go shopping for shopping’s sake because this will cause you to buy things your family does not need. Instead, have a list and stick to it.
2. Take advantage of shifting seasons
There are many deals available as stores try to clear inventory with shifting seasons. You can normally buy summer things at a discount in late July and early August. Summer shoes like sandals go on sale in late July by up to 50%. You can get the best deal on a new car in September. Pretty much every product has a transition season and this is the best time to buy new.
3. Use the Internet to price compare
Don’t get caught paying too much for anything. If you follow our tip of only buying what you set out to buy, then why not do a little price research on the Internet before you leave the house. Even if you’re at the store, you can just whip out the iPhone and do a little price research on the sly… right in the store.
4. Buy used or imperfect products
You can save lots of money without sacrificing quality by buying used. One of the best places to buy used is in the car industry where you can save up to 1/3 off the price of a car that is just as good as new simply because it was driven a few thousand miles. Other places where you can save money by buying used is on clothes, furniture, and even groceries (well, not quite used, but there are stores that sell slightly dented cans at a significant discount).
5. Maximize discounts and cash back rewards
Many people don’t realize this, but most Americans miss out on the opportunity to save between 1% and 3% off every single purchase they make. Seriously. Why? Because many Americans don’t know how to use credit cards effectively and smartly and thus have a bias against them. So long as you are sure you can pay the balance off each month, there is nothing wrong with using a credit card. In fact, if you are not using one, you are losing upwards of 3% of your overall purchasing power. For example, every time I buy gas I use a credit card that gives me 3% cash back. I know that I will pay the balance off each month and I also know that I will not use it to buy things I can’t afford.
Check out more of Ryan’s writing at his microblog called Thrive.