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10 Habits of a Budget Conscious Shopper

10 Habits of a Budget Conscious Shopper

Spending less and saving more is a goal for many American consumers. But the problem is that we keep on consuming, and a few bad habits can add up to thousands of dollars in wasted money over the years. So how do we go about developing good spending habits? Let's take a look at ten habits of a budget-conscious shopper.

1. Set a budget
You can't be budget-conscious without having a budget. A budget is an invaluable financial tool, whether it's your monthly household budget, the budget you allow for a weekend hobby, or an annual family vacation budget. The first step to spending your money wisely is to know how much you plan to spend or can afford to spend, and knowing a dollar amount in your head before you set out to spend will help you prioritize your needs.

2. Write and follow a list
For routine spending such as grocery shopping, the home improvement store, or even the electronics store, go armed with a list. Having a list will ensure you remember everything that you went to the store for, and sticking to it will help prevent you from going over budget with spur-of-the-moment purchases. And getting everything you need during the first trip is a big part of sticking to your budget - if you forget one important item and have to go back, there's a fair chance that something else will end up in your cart as well.

3. Experiment with consumables
Some brands are better than others, but it's worth checking out the value-priced brands to see if they meet your needs for less. For example, do you really need the high-strength paper towels that can handle scrubbing an oven if you're only using them as napkins? In some cases, there is no replacement - for example, maybe no store brand can truly replicate your favorite brand of steak sauce. Let price be the deciding factor only when you can still enjoy the product.

4. Buy consumables on sale and in bulk
Little convenience-sized individual servings of everything is the easy way, there's less waste and the product stays fresher for longer. But you pay for that convenience. Consider buying the bigger-bulk size and repackaging them yourself. This can be done with cookies, chips, oatmeal, and any other food that can be divided into plastic baggies or tubs. Put your freezer and pantry to good use and stock up when items you routinely use are on sale.

5. Use coupons only when reasonable
Clipping coupons can be an easy way to save a few cents or even a few dollars on your favorite products. But after careful comparison of brands that typically offer coupons, you're likely to find that even with the coupon the product is more expensive than a comparable product with no coupon, especially when looking at generic or store brands. So use coupons for the brands you're fond of, but check out other prices before blindly falling into the coupon trap for everything.

6. Use fewer disposables
Paper products can come in very handy for travel, for when you have a large number of guests, or for when you have a busy day and don't want to deal with the cleaning that comes with durable napkins, towels, and dishes. But for everyday use these disposables can be a burden on your wallet. Save some money and save a tree while you're at it, and use washable/reusables for your typical days.

7. Research big-ticket purchases
And on a related note, items that are supposed to be durable goods can be considered disposable if they are of poor quality and need to be replaced often - cheaper isn't better, especially when the quality suffers. Spending more now will often pay off in the long run with fewer repairs and more enjoyable use. Do your research before you buy to get a full picture of how much you're really saving by spending less.

8. Don't be in a hurry for big-ticket purchases
Being patient can really pay off for major purchases such as a car, appliance, sporting equipment, and even a home. Use the extra time to think about your true needs and keep an eye out for the item in classified ads or on sale. And even if you think you're passing up a great deal by waiting, oftentimes you'll find another of the same at an even better price later on.

9. Settle for less than the best
While it often pays off to go for quality items, this can easily be taken to extremes. Of course we would all like to have the best of everything, but the middle-of-the-line in many cases will do just fine, too. This is where the above-mentioned research will help you make an informed decision about your true needs as well as how much you're willing and able to spend on your purchase.

10. Take advantage of sales, but don't let sales take advantage of you
We all enjoy seeing our favorite store offer a big discount sale, and it's a great thing to take advantage of if you are in the market for something that can be bought there. But it can be easy to load up on things you really don't need simply because the sale price looks so good. It is still a waste of money whether you buy the item for full price or half price if it's something you won't need or use.

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

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