Commandments of Smart Shopping

2018-02-10 13:51:27.0

Picture this: you’re walking inside a shopping mall looking for a little something for someone in your life and maybe even some groceries. You have your phone on one hand and your bag on the other, trying to keep your eyes focused on the bookstore that will provide you with a special paperback your boyfriend has been searching for. At first it seems like everything’s going to be fine. As you keep repeating ‘Buy book, get out’, your steps become militarily-like and precise in their march. And then bam!

Your favorite four letter word comes in-view: SALE! There’s one at the trendy brand next to the bookstore. SALE! Another at the shop opposite it. Suddenly, the mall becomes a battlefield as you elbow your way to get to those shoes (on clearance). You wage war with mothers for cookie dough spread at the pop-up bazaar through smiles and pleasantries (while secretly creating a partition on the shelf so you get the most number of jars). Hours pass and you come to a realization while looking at the black screen of your dead-batt phone:

You look like you’ve been attacked by a rabid animal (or look like the said animal)

Not a single book resides in the multitude of paper bags that hang from your tired arms.

You can say goodbye to that spa day because you’ve just maxed your credit card.

Shopping is a fun activity. Nothing can compare to the thrill of blowing money on a new OOTD. Still, the exhilarating rush won’t be worth it if it costs you your future happiness. Luckily, the solution to stopping the inevitable urge to go on a spending spree is pretty simple. Check out our list of seven ways to be a smart shopper:

1. Have a shopping list

Shopping without a list is a risky move because it leaves you much more vulnerable to buying on impulse and getting sidetracked. Having a list also allows you to estimate how much you need, whether it’s shopping for gifts or groceries. Stick to your list and you’ll be fine for the most part.

2. Avoid using a credit card

Credit card purchases are more trouble than they’re worth. Even if that palm-sized rectangle is tucked into the deepest recesses of your purse out of reach, only sheer will prevents your fingers from digging it out a few times. Credit cards also give off the illusion that you have lots to spend, as compared to cash where you can see exactly how much you have left. While those teeny interest rates may not look like much now, those little charges in build up fast. Keep your credit card purchases at a minimum and avoid loans just to fund those non-essential items (like the sneakers you know you’d be trading for a new one three months later).

3. Keep separate budgets

Even if it’s as simple as having separate envelopes for each cash fund, keeping separate budgets for different expenses help you keep track of your finances because you know how much to spend on things. Think of this system as paying different debts (for travel, a new laptop) so you wouldn’t have the instinct of reaching for these funds whenever you are running out of cash. Even if it builds up slowly (as it tends to), you’re sure that you have something set aside for a future purchase.

4. Try the 3-day rule

You see something in the department store and sometimes you feel that you just have to get it. But do you really have to? Will you even give it a second look a few days later? This is what the 3-day rule is for. If you see something that you like at the mall, don’t buy it immediately. Wait. If it’s still haunting you with its appeal three days later, go ahead and grab it if you have the budget. Just like that, you’ll instantly minimize after-purchase regrets.

5. Buy in bulk

For consumables, it’s usually cheaper to buy in bulk. Not only is it more environmentally friendly because of less packaging, it also saves you more time since you’re going to buy it early into a period (beginning of a month vs. Sunday of each week) and free up your time for more productive activities (part-time jobs etc.) For clothing, the discount bin is your best friend. If you’re not really that interested in catching up on the latest fashion, you can get your basics for cheap by checking if these are on clearance. There’s no shame in buying at a discount.

6. Buy only the essentials

With new products coming into the market, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of new brand names and buy more than what you need. For clothes, this may mean checking out your wardrobe before doing your big annual clothes shopping day. Is there a particular design or material trend in the clothes you buy? Are the majority of your shirts 100% cotton and in pastel colors? Simple cues like these show your subtle preferences. Chances are, your next purchase would be similar. So if you’re not sure about buying that bright orange shirt you saw everyone wearing, choose something that reminds you of the sensible navy tees that you can’t imagine yourself without.

7. Eat before shopping

Unless you’re someone who thrives on the smell of brand name tester perfumes on department store shelves, shopping is a physically taxing activity. It’s best to eat up before strategizing which path to take. This minimizes hours spent choosing and optimizes efficiency while going through the different aisles. In addition to making well thought-out decisions in selecting what to buy, eating before shopping also minimizes the temptation of eating out.

Be a smart shopper. You’ve worked hard for your spending money so why blow it out on one shopping spree?

If you want to learn more tips for smart spending, click on the other articles under our Budget section. You can also leave any questions our financial advisors can help you with in the comments box below!