By Sandy Sheilds
Here are thirty-three basic smart shopping tips that can be used anywhere you shop. Use them to save money, and as a guide to strengthen your purchasing power.
1. Plan your spending. Avoid impulse buys.
2. Advertised items are not necessarily the cheapest.
3. Watch for unadvertised specials.
4. Remember to ask for a "raincheck" if an item is sold out.
5. To avoid crowds, do not shop after work, on paydays, or just before holidays.
6. Buy items before you run out of them. Buy at clearance, or sale price, instead of regular price when you must have the item.
7. Know the sales cycle in your area.
8. Just because an item is on sale, doesn't necessarily mean it is a good deal for your family. If you won't use it, don't buy it.
9. Due to volume discounts, larger stores are generally cheaper than smaller ones.
10. Your emotions affect your shopping. Be careful of the "I deserve it" mentality.
11. Buy at the end of the season.
12. Stock up when prices are low.
13. Try alternative shopping: Shop salvage stores, thrift stores, consignment shops, warehouse clubs, yard sales, and garage sales.
14. Remember that no particular store has the lowest price on all items.
15. Create a "shopping pool". Agree with family and friends to shop sales for each other.
16. Shop alone. Other individuals will only help fill your shopping cart.
17. Check the entire store for specials and alternatives.
18. Get to know your favorite store's employees. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
19. Know your prices, keep a price book.
20. About Prices: Compare, Compare, Compare. This is how your price book helps you.
21. Larger is not always cheaper. Smaller is not always cheaper.
22. Look at unit prices.
23. You pay more for fancy packaging. Beware.
24. Remember the "Rule of Three": If an item has three different ways it can be used, you will not be wasting your money.
25. Never pay full price.
26. Shop defensively.
27. Try store and generic brands.
28. Watch as the clerk rings up your purchases. Check your receipt.
29. Shop for gifts year round.
30. Return purchases that do not meet your expectations.
31. Complain if it is genuinely warranted.
32. Call before you go to confirm item is available.
33. If you must, leave the checkbook and credit cards at home or in the car.
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