In today’s digital retail world, there are plenty of clever ways to save money while shopping—whether it’s traditional coupons, price protection policies, or cash back apps.
But unfortunately, many shoppers still make some big mistakes along the way — mistakes that result in them paying way more than they should, either online or in-store.
To help you avoid the pain of yet another money mishap, here are the most common shopping mistakes today’s consumers make, and how to avoid them in the future.
- Failing to compare prices.
If you’re blindly making purchases without investigating price, you’re likely spending more than you should. With the advent of smart shopping apps like ShopSavvy and Quick Scan, there’s no reason not to compare prices on significant purchases.
These apps work by simply scanning the item’s bar code, and within seconds, you’ll know if the product is sold cheaper down the street or online. Get in the habit of using one of these apps regularly and you’ll never overpay again.
- Buying more to save more.
Tiered savings or “buy more, save more” promotions purport to offer the most value to the biggest spenders. They often persuade consumers to spend more to receive the larger discount. However, buying more is just that – buying more. If you only intended to spend $50 and you receive a $10 discount, consider it a bonus and pocket the savings. In some cases, the percentage of savings is the same: $10 off $50, $20 off $100 and $50 off $250 all represent 20 percent savings, so spending more does not actually net you “more” savings.
- Overspending just to get free shipping.
Online shoppers can also spend more than they originally intended in order to save on shipping fees. A delivery charge of $8 to $12 prompts many consumers to add items to their online carts until they reach the minimum threshold to receive free shipping. However, if these are not products you need, and they cost more than the shipping fee, it’s a waste of money. Instead, see if you can take advantage of a free ship-to-store option, or delay your purchase until a holiday weekend, when many retailers reduce or waive minimum thresholds to increase traffic.
- Opening credit cards for a one-time discount.
The allure of discounts is hard to ignore, especially when they’re offered on items you plan to buy anyway. Such is the strategy of retailers offering discounts of 10-20% when customers open a retail credit card.
Despite the temptation, opening a store credit card is something you should almost always avoid. Having a store card often compels people to spend more at the retailer, especially when doing so helps you accrue rewards and other discounts. What’s more, retail credit cards often have low credit limits and high annual percentage rates, and can negatively impact your credit score if you open several new cards within a short time frame. Instead, stick to your bank credit card for retail buys and find other means to save money on your purchases, like coupons and discount gift cards.
- Assuming the final price is what you have to pay.
If you assume the price on the tag is what you’re stuck paying, you’re clearly doing it all wrong. You’ve failed to consider money-saving tools like coupons, cash back, and the idea of negotiating a lower price. Here is how to take advantage of each:
- Coupons:When shopping in-store, arm your smartphone with coupon apps, such as CouponSherpa and RetailMeNot The combination of both of these apps will provide you with a mass of coupons to thousands of stores which the cashier can simply scan when you’re checking out.
- Cash back:Use free apps like Ibotta and Checkout51 gather rebates at the grocery store on items you’ll be buying anyway. You will be amazed how quickly your cash back rebates add up.
- Negotiate:Always look for damaged packaging, floor displays, and imperfect items and try to negotiate a deal. Often times they will already be marked down, but managers want them out of the store quickly. To accomplish this, they will often sweeten the deal for you by 10% — 20% if you politely ask.