Shopping smart takes time, skill and practice. Each of us needs to practice smart shopping to get the most for our money. Try these shopping reminders to make shopping more manageable:
Think before you buy! Ask yourself . . . Do I need this item? Will it fit into my budget? Spending only $5.00 a week on things you don’t need will cost you $260.00 in a year. And . . . coupons don’t always save you money. Buying something you don’t need or won’t use because you have a coupon isn’t smart shopping. You may also find that an item on sale or a store brand item is cheaper than the product you have a coupon for.
Check it out! Find out all you can about a product before you buy it. Read about the product. Talk to people who own the product. Ask the salesperson to show you how the product works. See if the product really does what the commercials say it does. Learn the usual price of an item. Check the usual price of an item with the sale prices that a store is offering. Is the sale price cheaper than the usual price of the item? If the answer is yes, then this may be a good buy.
Find out a store’s return policy! Be sure to check a store’s return policy when purchasing a product. Do you need an original receipt or will a gift receipt be sufficient? Does the store offer cash refunds or only store credits? Do you need the original packaging to return an item? Do items need to be returned by a certain date following a purchase? For example, do you have three months from the purchase date for a refund or credit?
Consider the facts! Think about the product facts that you read or are told. Which facts are the most important to you and your family? Remember that because a company made a product of high quality one year does not mean that the company makes high quality products every year. Smart shoppers consider the facts before they buy.
Compare! Smart shoppers shop around. Visit or call three stores to compare the price of the item, the different models of the item and the return rules of each store. Buy from the store that gives you the most for the money you spend.
Choose! Be picky! It’s your money. Think about what you are getting for your money. Remember if a product or a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Shopping smart takes time and patience. Researching a product or service and comparison-shopping will help you as a consumer get the most for your money throughout the year.
- Jennifer Hunt, Consumer and Family Economics Educator, Illinois Cooperative Extension