Shop Smarter, Not Harder

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The experience of shopping can be exhilarating, gratifying, even exciting at times. The process of hunting down the perfect item and making it yours. Taking it home and having it be everything you wanted. But let’s not pretend that shopping doesn’t have a dark side. An air of pain and suffering. Shopping has its own way of making you – and your pockets – hurt.

When you’re trying to shop smart, it can feel even worse. You weigh every decision. You search for coupons. The worry of not making the best choice, of spending more than you had to, is always there. And the amount of work it takes to save is equally annoying.

Always, a question lingers in the back of your head: “Could I have paid less for that?”

If shopping smart and anxiety are a package deal for you, keep reading. Shopping smart doesn’t have to be a battle. It doesn’t have to hurt. By establishing a few routines and habits, you can start saving money – and stress – for the things that really deserve it.

Make a budget.

There are tons of resources out there on how to craft a budget that works for you, but they all have on fundamental rule: Figure out what your income is, what your necessities cost each month, how much extra you’ve got left, and what you want to do with it.

The next step – and perhaps the hardest – is to stick to it. Religiously. Like your life depends on it. No exceptions can be made that aren’t necessary. Your car needs new brakes or you’ll wreck? Okay. Your body needs that cute shirt? Nope.

Plan ahead.

When you factor your shopping trips into your schedule, and plan for those trips ahead of time, there’s way less room for wasteful spending along the way. Designate a day of the week, every week to get your errands done. When you’re mentally prepared and on a schedule, your wandering eye has way less time to look around in the store.

Knowing when you’ll go to the store also gives you time to prep for that trip in other ways – money saving ways. A day or two before, make a list of all the things you need. Next, scour your resources for coupons. Figure out what stores, if any, might have what you need on sale.

Coupons?

When the question is coupons, the answer is always yes. If you’re not using coupons, you’re essentially just leaving free money on the table.

Couponing has caught more attention in the last few years as extreme couponing started to get attention – where people stack coupons so they can get 56 bottles of ketchup for free. While impressive, it’s unnecessary. You can use coupons like a normal person, without all the complicated coupon math.

Don’t limit yourself to paper coupons. There are plenty of apps, whether store-specific or not, where you can carry digital coupons. And for every online purchase, there’s a good chance there’s a coupon code you could be using to pinch an extra few pennies.

Check out your local newspaper, magazine, and of course, our favorite coupon site for every shopping trip.

Not only do we offer coupons for many of your favorite retailers – there’s even more ways to save. Sign up for our e-newsletter. It’s like getting the newspaper coupons, but to your inbox. That means no dew to shake off and no clipping needed. They’ll also let you know about any contests we have going on – with cash prizes you won’t want to miss.

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