How to Shop on a Budget
Money is tight for just about everyone these days, which is why it’s more important than ever to be frugal. Whether you’re shopping for food, clothes, toiletries, or other household supplies, here are some ideas to help you cut costs and stay under budget.
Take an inventory
It’s always good to have a game plan, and the first step towards figuring out yours is determining what you have, what you need, and what you can do without. Look around your house and make a list of what items you currently have as well as how many. Do the same thing whenever you return home from the store. Update the list regularly as time goes by.
Not only will this let you know when you’re getting low on things like deodorant or canned vegetables, but it will also give you a good idea as to how quickly you go through those things. When it comes to food, it can be especially important to make sure you’re not wasting things or letting them spoil. If you normally buy two loaves of bread, but often find the second one getting moldy before you finish it, then you now know you can save money by buying one instead.
Try swapping parties
This idea is more for clothing than food or toiletries (as will become obvious in a moment). If you haven’t heard of swapping parties, they’re an excellent way of helping yourself and your friends at the same time.
At a swapping party, a circle of friends get together with each person bringing an assortment of items they no longer want, either because they no longer fit or just no longer suit their style. Everybody looks at what everybody else brought, trades are made, and in the end each person usually comes home with at least one new article of clothing (if not more) without ever needed to spend a dime.
Seek out savings
Remember how your mom used to sit down with the newspaper every Sunday and go through all the circulars, cutting out coupons? She had the right idea. Nowadays, though, it’s much easier to find big savings. Physical coupons are still a thing, but so are digital ones. Most stores also have free frequent shoppers’ rewards cards that offer additional deals.
Using the internet can yield huge discounts, too. Apps like Groupon and Ibotta, or even just doing Google searches for phrases like “Kohl’s discount codes,” can shave a lot of money off purchase prices. Best of all, if an online retailer has a physical store near you, ordering digitally is often cheaper. Then you can pick up your order in-person to save on shipping costs.
Only pay in cash
Sometimes the hardest part of staying under budget is simply a matter of self-control. It’s a fact that most store layouts are specifically designed to psychologically manipulate you into buying stuff you don’t need. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of forgiving momentary splurges by rationalizing that you’re only doing it “this one time.” But one time can quickly become many.
Outsmart those clever shopkeepers by making sure they can’t trick you into spending more than you can afford. How? By leaving your credit and debit cards at home, and only bringing with you the exact amount of money you want to spend. No extra money, no extraneous purchases.