5 techniques for smarter, happier shopping

February 21st, 2013 Sue Armbrecht

Shopping is something we all do. Some shopping trips are for necessities such as groceries and clothes. Others are for buying life-enhancing things you want – from toys to furniture to electronic devices. No matter what you’re shopping for, though, it’s important – both financially and emotionally – to make smart decisions.  Here are five great techniques that will help you shop smart, and feel better about your buying decisions.

Technique 1: Coupons

Coupons are one of the best ways to save money on things you’re purchasing. Keep in mind you can get coupons in more places than just newspapers or in your mail. A great place to look for coupons is online – there are literally hundreds of thousands of coupons you can download and print. Always check to see if you can find an online coupon by using an internet search engine such as Google or Bing. Just type in the product name followed by “coupon.” You’ll probably be surprised – and will smile – when you see how many coupons are available online.

Technique 2: Match prices

Many stores offer to match their competitor’s prices. So if you see a great deal at one store, but prefer to shop at another, chances are you can get the lower price. Simply take the newspaper ad, online ad or direct mail piece that lists the price into the store you want to purchase from, and ask them to match the price. These days, most stores will do it – and you’ll save money!

Technique 3: Do online research

Another key to keeping shopping enjoyable is to make sure you buy a great product that meets your expectations. If you’re considering buying a product you don’t know much about and haven’t bought before, it’s good to go online and research it. The best way is to type the name of the product in an online search engine (Google and Bing) followed by the word “reviews.” You’ll get a variety of reviews and ratings of the product from many websites, and it will help you better understand the product, how well it’s liked, and if it’s a good product to buy.

Technique 4: Shop “out of season”

If you’re looking to get the best deal of all, shopping out of season is one of the most effective techniques. By planning ahead and shopping out of season, you’ll get great prices that are often the lowest possible. Examples: Buying winter clothing on sale as spring approaches. Purchasing an RV or boat during the winter. Buying a snow blower in the middle of summer. Basically, it boils down to buying things during the time of year when most people don’t buy them. The result? You get a better deal!

Technique 5: Watch for low promotional interest rates

When you’re thinking about buying a large item that needs financing (cars, boats, RVs, furniture), the smart thing to do is watch for low promotional interest rates – especially interest free loans! Many car companies, department stores and furniture stores promote really low rates from time-to-time to pull in customers. The lower the rate you get, the more you save – and the more you enjoy your purchase!

By following these five techniques, you’ll feel great about the purchases you make. You’ll know you’re making smart decisions, getting great deals and spending your money wisely. For families out shopping, that’s a wonderful experience!

Sue Armbrecht

About the author

Sue Armbrecht is Market President at MidWestOne Bank. She helps customers manage their personal finances and identify effective money management solutions.

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