Number 4 – Shop Smart
If you want to save money – and prevent those end-of-the-month how-are-we-gonna-make-it-worries – learn how to shop smart. Times are tough and money is scarce. Now is the time to become a conscious consumer.
- Use lists. When you go to the grocery store, make a list. When you prepare for Christmas shopping, make a list. When you are getting ready to go on vacation, make a list. Take out a sheet of paper, write what you plan to buy, and when you go shopping, follow the list.
- Use coupons. I use coupons at the grocery store – but only for items that I would have bought had I not had any coupons. Be careful when using coupons, or you will end up buying stuff that you don’t need, just because you have coupons. Also, be on the lookout for coupons that you can use at restaurants, gas stations, dry cleaners, etc. If you don’t want to buy the Sunday paper, search eBay. There you can find coupons for all sorts of items.
- Use a grocery store price book. If you really want to save money on groceries, you’ll want to stock up on items when they go on sale. To do that, you’ll want to know rock bottom prices. Click here to check out my free, printable grocery price book, which will help you track the prices of your favorite grocery store items.
- Use the internet. This might sound like a no-brainer, but I know people who spend hours online, and then, when they want to buy something, just head to the nearest Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, or Sears. Instead, they should first research – products and prices – using the web. There are literally hundreds of sites which will help you compare prices, evaluate products, and find deals. Here are my three favorite sites -
- Use common sense. Never make a major purchase without doing some research. Never buy something that’s not in your budget. Never buy something that you can’t be proud of owning. I use the $100-A-Day-Rule, which helps to prevent impulse buying. Never shop for food on an empty stomach. Never shop for a new car while your old one is being repaired. Never buy something just because your neighbor has one. Choose to be the smartest consumer in your neighborhood.
- Use cash. This one might be a little counter-intuitive, but hear me out. If you were to plan to use cash – and cash only – for the next six months, and promise not to allow yourself a credit card safety net, could you do it? If the answer is no, then you have a problem. I’m not saying that living the No Credit Needed life is for everyone, but I am saying that anyone who has his/her financial house in order should be able to live on cash – and cash only – if they chose to. Many people say that they spend more when they use cash, but that’s only because they allow themselves a credit card safety net. If you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that when your cash ran out, that that was it, I’ll be you could learn, very quickly, to be responsible with cash. (By cash, I mean paper money, checks, or debit cards. In other words, funds you already have.)
Being a better, smarter shopper will help you keep more of your paycheck. As times get tough, the days of frivolous spending are over. It’s time for all of us to buckle down, use our brains, and make smart buying decisions.