Shopping can be a double-edged sword. While it can be fun, the thrill of a purchase can quickly fade when the bill arrives. With a little planning and some clever tricks, you can transform your shopping experience into a savvy treasure hunt for savings. After all, you save to spend, so rewarding yourself for meeting a savings goal can be done wisely. We’ve got these six smart shopping hacks to help you spend wisely this new year.
What are some shopping hacks to save money?
Shopping is often seen as a leisure activity, a way to relax and indulge in the latest trends or must-have items. However, it's important to remember that every purchase comes with a price tag. That's why it's crucial to approach shopping with a strategic mindset and a focus on saving money.
- Master the Art of the List: Before you step foot in a store, create a detailed list of necessities. Stick to it like glue! This prevents impulse buys and ensures you only purchase what you truly need. If you’re grocery shopping, consider meal planning before you go to the store so you only buy ingredients that will be used and avoid throwing away what you purchase. When shopping for clothes or other “fun” items, you might choose to shop online, but you can still use the list method to make sure you stay on track and don’t get distracted with unnecessary items.
- Befriend the Budget: Tools and apps like Every Dollar, You Need A Budget (YNAB), or even Leaders Credit Union's own Money Management budgeting tools can be your financial superheroes. They help you track your spending, set goals, and stay on top of your finances. Knowledge is power, and knowing where your money goes is the first step to saving more. If you don’t have a budget, chances are you are over spending or purchasing items you don’t actually need. Budgeting is key!
- Embrace the Power of Planning: Planning ahead is your secret weapon. Research prices, compare brands, and check for deals before you shop. This will help you avoid impulse buys and snag the best bargains. If you download mobile apps for stores you frequent, you can usually keep up with the sales and best prices on a weekly basis. Do your research before you go out and shop so that you know where to go to get the best deals.
- Don’t Buy Just Because It’s on Sale: Sales and discounts can be tempting sirens, but don't let them lure you into overspending. Only buy items on sale if you actually need them and were already considering them. Remember, true savings happen when you spend less, not just when you get a discount. Big sales can be tempting, especially if it says something big like “50% off,” but self-control is key.
- Cash is King: Sometimes, the cold, hard cash has a way of slowing down our spending frenzy. Consider using cash for smaller purchases to avoid the ease of swiping a credit card. You can try the envelope method by allotting a certain amount of cash for each category of spending. When that cash is out, you don’t spend anymore the month. Leaders Credit Union fee-free ATMs are conveniently located throughout the country to keep you cash-ready.
- Befriend the "Wait" Button: Before clicking "buy" online, take a 24-hour wait. This cooling-off period helps you assess if the purchase aligns with your needs and budget. Often, when you slow down and be patient before purchasing, you’ll realize you don’t actually need that item and need to save the money. You might be surprised how often the urge to buy fades away!
Are there any tools or apps that can help with budgeting and saving money while shopping?
Loyalty Programs: Join store loyalty programs to earn points on your purchases and unlock exclusive discounts. Usually, you’ll have to download their app to track your points and discounts, but this can be a great way to save money.
Price Comparison Apps: Download apps like Honey or Ibotta to compare prices and find the best deals across different stores. These tools are your digital bargain-hunting companions.
Choose a budgeting app that works for you: As we said above, budgeting is the main tool that will help you stay on top of spending. Here are some most popular budgeting apps:
- Money Management by Leaders Credit Union: Meeting your financial goals is easy with access to your accounts, budget, spending trends, debt repayment, and goal tracking all in one place with our free Money Management tool that is within our mobile app.
- YNAB (You Need a Budget): Popular for its zero-based budgeting approach, where every dollar has a job. Emphasizes financial awareness and goal setting. Requires a subscription fee.
- EveryDollar: Another zero-based budgeting app based on Dave Ramsey's financial principles. Simple and user-friendly interface, suitable for beginners. Free version available with limited features.
- PocketGuard: Focuses on visualizing your spending with "guardrails" that represent your budget limits. Offers bill tracking and automatic saving suggestions. Free version available with limited features.
- Goodbudget: Uses the envelope budgeting method, where you allocate funds to virtual envelopes for different spending categories. Great for visual learners and couples budgeting together. Free version available with limited features.
- Simplifi by Quicken: Blends traditional Quicken features with a mobile-friendly interface. Offers detailed reports, investment tracking, and bill pay capabilities. Requires a subscription fee.
- Empower Personal Dashboard™: Formerly Personal Capital, this app excels at tracking wealth and investments alongside daily spending. Provides comprehensive financial reports and portfolio management tools. Requires a subscription fee.
- Honeydue: Designed specifically for couples to co-manage their finances. Allows joint budgeting, bill tracking, and shared goals. Free version available with limited features.
What are some strategies to avoid overspending during sales or discount seasons?
There are seasons of the year, like the end of spring or fall, Black Friday, or holidays that have large sales and might tempt you to overspend. It is important to be aware of these discount seasons and maintain your budget to avoid running out of money.
Focus on value over price: A more expensive item that you'll use and love for years might be a better choice than a cheap one that will fall apart or you'll never use. Try not to buy an item just because it’s the cheapest out there, but do your research and purchase items that will last. Buying something that will hold up will save you money in the long run.
Set time limits: Limit your shopping time to avoid fatigue and impulsive decisions. Leaving after a set period helps you stick to your budget and avoid the exhaustion that can lead to poor spending choices.
Take breaks and sleep on it: If you see something tempting, take a break and think about it. Sometimes, sleeping on it can help you realize you don't actually need the item. It is always a wise choice to wait at least 24 hours before making a significant purchase.
Conquer your Savings Goals with Leaders Credit Union
Remember, smart shopping is a journey, not a destination. Leaders Credit Union is here to support you every step of the way. From budgeting tools and financial education resources to competitive interest rates and convenient services, we're your financial partner in success. So, let's stop those shopping sprees and meet those savings goals.
Do you need guidance with setting and keeping financial goals? Download our free Smart Budgeting Tool Kit and choose the budgeting and money management strategies that work best for your needs.