Whether you’re searching online for the perfect gift, considering a major home purchase, doing some casual window-shopping, or even just buying groceries, shopping is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be a bit hectic if you don’t know where to start. Shops are highly skilled at attracting you to things you can really manage without.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make your shopping experience easier, more stress-free, and affordable. Arm yourself with these shop-smart strategies to ensure you’re spending wisely.
Evaluate your wardrobe:
Clothing quickly gets worn out or outdated, while work and other occasions require us to invest in our wardrobes. Gaining weight or losing weight are also challenges. Before shopping for new items, make a list of everything you need. Choose items that will fit well with clothes you already own. Focus on how, when, where, and what you plan on wearing with them.
Make a list:
It’s easy to get tempted into buying on impulse, so review what you already have in your cupboards at home before you set off on your shopping trip. List your favourite items in your wardrobe and the ones you always wear. Keep a list of the things you are on the lookout for. This way, you’ll know if what you’re buying works well with your go-to items.
Set a budget:
Set a rough figure on what you are going to spend on a shopping trip and make sure you don’t buy more than you can afford. Set your budget and stick to it. Stop shopping once you hit your limit.
When shopping, compare prices from various stores and online shops to find good deals, especially if you’re making a big purchase like a washing machine, fridge, or television.
Pay in cash:
Research says that we may pay 20 to 50 per cent more when we shop using credit or debit cards. There’s something about plastic that can make us feel it’s not real, but unfortunately credit-card fees are very real. So, once your list is prepared and you have a budget you can stick to, withdraw the funds in cash and use that cash for shopping. You’ll save a fortune, and impulse buys will seem far less tempting.
Pick the best time:
Don’t shop when you are tired, hungry, lonely, bored, or upset. Shopping can be a fatiguing and stressful activity if you don’t shop at a time that works well for you. Also, shopping when the stores are most busy can lead to shopping fatigue where you end up buying things you don’t want or need.
Just about everything we buy from clothes to recreational gear to electronics has a season. You can find huge mark-downs on clothing prices, sometimes 70 per cent or more, when the season for those clothes is almost over. If you’re willing to wait a few months between buying clothes and wearing them, you’ll score serious savings multiple times a year.
Don’t shop on payday:
When it’s payday, we may get into a mindset of finally being able to buy whatever we want, strongly impacting buying behaviour. So, when you get your pay cheque, set aside the money for expenses like bills and rent first and then decide the amount you can spend on shopping. After you do that, plan your trip to the mall.
Buy clothes that suit:
One of the best strategies to keep your clothing spending on track while also buying new clothes is to keep your wardrobe full of clothes that match. When you find a piece of clothing that you love and looks good on you, buy multiples of it in different colours. Don’t be tempted into buying clothes you think will fit when you lose weight.
Snapping a photograph of yourself in the dressing room mirror allows you to see what the item or outfit truly looks like. It’s hard to see yourself and what you’re trying on when you look in the mirror. You tend to look at your flaws, and you may miss the fact that the item is enhancing your shape. Looking at a photograph can help you to judge yourself better.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 March, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.