Shopping experts Gigi Lehman, editor of LivingOnTheCheap.com, Trae Bodge of Truetrae.com, and John Schmoll, founder of FrugalRules.com share their tips.
Use these tips to stay under budget.
What do inflation, interest rates, gas prices and food have in common? They are all high. With many goods and services costing more these days, your money needs to last longer to pay for everything you need.
That’s why you need some good shopping tricks to stay within your budget. Shopping experts Gigi Lehman, editor of LivingOnTheCheap.com, Trae Bodge of Truetrae.com, and John Schmoll, founder of FrugalRules.com share their tips.
Buy in season.
Trying to update your wardrobe with new, seasonal fashion clothing can cost you. But when it comes to produce and produce, you can save money by buying seasonal produce. “One way to economize on produce is to buy seasonal produce: for example, watermelons and berries in the summer and citrus in the winter,” says Lehman. “Perishable products are also seasonal. Examples of summer products include condiments, barbecue sauce, hot dog and hamburger buns, sunscreen, plasters and antibiotic spray.”
Stock up during the sale.
Everyone loves a good sale. If there are items that you use regularly — like a certain type of toothpaste or cleaning products — buy them when they’re on sale and try to stock up. Lehman calls this practice “strategic buying.” “Ideally, you buy these staples in large enough quantities to last you through the next sale,” says Lehman. “If done right, smart shopping should save you more than buying full price with coupons.” It may seem like you’re spending more in the short term, but you’re saving money in the long run.
Be patient with large items.
Good things come to those who wait. When it comes to purchasing a more expensive item — say, a mattress or an appliance — Bodge recommends waiting for a sale period like the 4th of July weekend, Amazon Prime Day, or Labor Day weekend to get a great deal get hold of “If you have something specific in mind, you can also use a deal site like Slickdeals.net to set a ‘deal alert’ on that item,” she says. “When this item goes on sale you will be automatically notified and you can make your move. I’ve used this tool to save on things like a new fridge, laptop, and Apple Airpods.”
Be smart when you travel.
With high gas prices, soaring hotel prices, soaring restaurant prices, and airline delays and cancellations, travel is expensive these days. Consumers must balance the desire to get out of town with the desire to stay under budget. Because of this, Bodge has some very direct advice: “My advice is to get out there and do things, but avoid big trips and events until prices drop.” And when you buy these things, use a great rewards card.”
Search for the best gas prices.
With gas prices this high, Bodge strongly recommends doing some cost comparisons. “This is not the time to stop at the first gas station you see,” she says. Instead, she recommends using an app like Google Maps, Waze, or AAA to find nearby gas stations and compare their prices. “Google Maps is my number one choice: I’ve just discovered that it will show you the most fuel efficient route. Look for the little leaf,” she says.
Refuel at the club.
If you don’t have time to compare gas prices, there are other ways to save money at the pump. For example, if you’re a member of a warehouse like Costco and Sam’s Club, why not fill up your vehicle after you’ve bought all your bulk goods? You’ll save a bit of money for every gallon you pump at these clubs, since gas savings are one of their benefits, according to Bodge.
Buy and freeze your groceries.
Another great way to stay on budget when shopping is to buy groceries and freeze them. Sometimes grocery stores buy too much of a particular product and lower prices to move inventory (instead of keeping it at a higher price and letting it all spoil). For example, Schmoll says his family benefited from a sale of bone-in pork shoulder at Costco. “We bought a few, chopped them up and put them in our freezer and we’ll be able to use them for months to come.”
Plan on one or two meatless dinners a week.
Making a lentil soup, PB&J, or plate of beans and rice for dinner once or twice a week can save you some money and stay on budget. Meat is one of the more expensive items on your shopping list. So if you forgo chicken, pork, or beef in place of a $1 bag of beans, lentils, or rice, you can save some money.
Stick to a list.
Try making a grocery list and sticking to it, and you’ll be amazed at how much money you can save just by avoiding impulse purchases. Schmoll says, “Going in with lists is great because it’s so easy to see something you hadn’t thought of and then buy it, but later you’re like, ‘Did I really need this?'” Right now, with prices rising, says he consumers will feel these impulse purchases all the more.
Negotiate your streaming service subscriptions.
During the pandemic, many people have been stacking up subscriptions, from Netflix to Disney+, from Hulu to Amazon Prime Video. But those subscriptions add up month after month. Schmoll says now is the time to reconsider those streaming service subscriptions. “The beauty of streaming services is that you can cancel or pause them,” he says. “We’re big college football fans, but we’re not watching it this summer, so we can pause this streaming service and reallocate the money in our budget.”
Make and stick to your budget.
In order to stay under budget when shopping, you must first create a budget. Estimating your income and expenses over a period of time and reviewing them regularly goes a long way to keeping your spending under control. There’s not much consumers can do about rising prices and interest rates, but they have control over how to adapt by cutting costs or finding ways to make more money. “I’m a big advocate of budgets, and I think right now it’s even more important — and often overlooked,” says Schmoll. “It’s not a panacea, but it will stretch your money further.”
Get help from apps.
There are now apps for almost everything – some of which offer great added value when it comes to personal finance issues. For example, there are apps for budgeting, apps for overspending and apps for wealth management and more. Schmoll relies on CapitalOne’s shopping app, which helps shoppers find deals, earn rewards, and even automatically adds coupons. “Both my wife and I work from home, and it’s far too easy to shop online,” says Schmoll. “But even if it’s a few dollars or a small percentage off, I’m a big fan of apps.”
12 shopping tips to stay on budget:
— Shop for seasonal produce and goods.
— Stock up during the sale.
— Wait for large ticket items.
— Be smart when traveling.
— Compare gas prices.
— Refuel at a warehouse club.
— Freeze your food.
— Go meatless for a night or two.
— Stick to your list.
— Negotiate subscriptions.
— Plan and stick to your budget.
— Get help from apps.
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12 shopping tricks to stay on budget originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 7/13/22: This story was previously published and updated with new information.