Stop. Impulsive shopping has no place in the current economic downturn. With companies going bankrupt, banks growing stingy with loans and people becoming unsure of their financial stability, it is imperative that you fine-tune your shopping habits to the rough times. Your goal: Save up for the rainy days. Your move: Do your homework before you engage in any shopping spree or grocery hoarding. Here are five ways you can do your shopping homework:
1. Talk to family members and friends.
Advertisements wow you using a constant repetition of weasel words. Passive consumption of these media reminders can subconsciously plant a seed of desire in your mind to buy whatever is endorsed and advertised by your favorite star, author or rock band. If you listen to your family members and friends though, you can resist any attractive sales pitches at will. Your loved ones exercise a great deal of influence on your spending style. Their feedback can sway you to proceed with or forget about getting the item you wish to buy. Use their opinion and insight to make an informed decision on your planned purchases.
2. Heed the opinion of medical experts.
Do not end your homework once you have gathered the opinion of your loved ones. When you intend to shop for supplements, health food or baby items, place a premium on medical opinion. Use your regular medical checkups as a perfect opportunity to ask your physician questions about the safety, side effects and the medical implications of products that you are interested in buying. At times, your physician may even suggest a couple of alternatives for you. If a one-on-one talk with your physician is not possible, then read journals and access articles written by medical professionals.
3. Prowl forums and online discussion boards.
Take advantage of the wealth of information and opinion that you can find on the Internet. While manufacturers use websites to promote their wares and services, consumers often use blogs, forums and discussion boards to talk about their buying experience and to rant about their dissatisfaction on specific products. You may stumble upon an article or two that can steer you off the track of overpriced merchandises, rip-off tactics and hidden deals. Remember a Chinese proverb when you surf the Net for product reviews: “A happy customer tells one friend, but an unhappy one tells nine others.”
4. Window shop.
Whether you surf the Net or take a leisurely stroll at your favorite shopping store, you cannot go wrong with window shopping. The activity gives you a lot of lead time to compare prices, and to scout around for the best deal that fits your budget. It also offers you the chance to stumble upon cheaper but better alternatives to the item you have in mind. A 100-dollar outfit sold at the mall may turn out to be just a 50-dollar buy at a small boutique. If you do not look around, you will miss a number of opportunities to save up. Your only investment is a portion of your time.
5. Study your receipts and bills.
Experience is the best teacher. Study your receipts and bills to re-assess your spending habits and to determine what purchases you can cut back on. For instance, your restaurant bill can tell you that shakes, carbonated drinks, coffee and wine really cost more than they should. If you and three of your companions order water instead, you can snag ten dollars’ worth of savings or spend the money to purchase from the supermarket a stock of your favorite drinks at a more affordable retail cost. Keeping receipts and bills is one thing; studying each one and taking action is another. Although the price difference may be very small at times, remember that if you add up everything, the amount of money you wasted and could have saved can actually be substantial. Grab any opportunity within your reach to save money.
Purposive shopping lets you accomplish at least two obvious things: you can delineate your needs from your wants, and you can study your alternatives. The reward is of course worth the time you invest in doing your homework: cheap purchase deals which translate to big savings on your end.
Written exclusively for Parent Wonder by Mikki Hogan.
About the Author:
Mikki Hogan, editor and publisher of aBetterFamilyBusiness.com is a savvy home-schooling mom who enjoys warm sunny afternoons picnicking in the front lawn with her 8yr old daughter, family talks around the dinner table and hiking with the four youngest in the local hills. Working at home allows her the freedoms to explore the world with her family and tackle world of parenting in real time.
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