Changing the Way You Shop

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It is possible to save money on items that are essential and on those that are not. What gets many people into trouble is impulse buying, even with necessary things like groceries. Changing the way you shop and how you look at shopping in general can prevent you from making expensive mistakes.

Let’s start with food shopping. We’ve all been there – wandering up and down the grocery store aisles, no list, no ideas, unhappy, hungry kids in tow. In times like these, it is practically a guarantee than you’ll make unwise purchases and spend way too much money. When it comes to grocery shopping, it’s best to shop once a week, or even better, every two weeks. To pull this off, careful planning is required. Ideally, you’d want to find out which items are on sale that week, plan your menus, and write out a grocery list. Planning meals, cooking at home, and incorporating leftovers into the menu are all ways to save hundreds each month on food costs.

If this sounds like a daunting task, don’t despair. These are loads of resources on the subject, including books with tear out shopping lists, calendar pages of menus, and of course tablet and smart phone apps. Using the grocery store’s reward program and signing up for online notices about sales and special deals are also ways to save. Other ideas are to shop sales at discount stores for generic and every day staples, like napkins, cereal, and pet food. Finally, stocking up on fresh local produce at the farmer’s market is another example.

If you have ever shrugged your shoulders & thought, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”…hold on right there! As part of changing your approach to shopping, thoughts like that must be banished from your consciousness. You can’t buy happiness, so don’t even try. In fact, avoiding stores all together is the best way to put an end to impulsive spending.

Understanding what triggers reckless shopping sprees can help put an end to pointless spending. Whether it’s on items for the home or clothing, unplanned purchases are usually the result of dissatisfaction. Perhaps you just read about some new home décor trends or thumbed through a fashion magazine at the doctor’s office? Now, suddenly everything you have is awful and must be replaced. Here are a few strategies to consider before going off the deep end into debt:

  • Reevaluate what you have. Regardless of the item, ask yourself if it can be repainted, recovered, or altered in some way that will make it better? For example, could a little paint, new hardware, buttons, trim, or a shorter hemline make it work?
  • Can you live with it for now until you find a replacement on sale?
  • Have you looked for these things in alternative outlets to retail stores such as thrift and consignment shops? How about Craigslist and eBay? If you feel uncomfortable looking for the item used, just think – it’s new to you and you could save a bundle.
  • Resist the temptation to make a purchase; instead think about it for one week and then see if the desire is as overwhelming as it was 7 days ago.
  • Mull over other ways to spend the money instead of on the thing in question. Are there overdue bills that should be paid or are you saving up for a vacation or other big-ticket item?
  • Another consideration is what kind of staying power the object in question has. Is it something that is well made and will last and be useful for years to come? Will this purchase be sustainable or wasteful?
  • Finally, approach buying like a game: the only way to win is to avoid impulsive purchases and save instead of spend!

Anna Platz is an Editor at ForTheBestRate.com, a leading mortgage rate research website, as well as the Lead Contributor to GoodCentsSavings.com, a blog about budgeting and personal finance. Anna is immersed in the world of real estate, mortgage, and home financing and is here to provide valuable resources for homeowners and soon-to-be-homeowners on buying and selling real estate, researching a mortgage broker or lender, and securing a home loan. Check back often for news, updates, and remember that you can find today's current mortgage rates at ForTheBestRate.com. My Google Profile+

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