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Do You Want To Shop Smarter

Creating a Budget for Smarter Shopping

Updated on September 30, 2021

 Personal Finance

Around the holiday season each year, there seems to be an undeniable pressure surrounding shopping and gift-giving. Although most of us agree that the holidays are about spending time with friends and family, it can also be a time of spending more money than we planned to. The good news is, there are many ways you can still participate in the hustle and bustle of seasonal sales by placing a focus on smarter shopping habits to avoid breaking the bank.

Create a Personal Budget

An easy, yet often overlooked, way to save money while shopping is to create a budget and stick to it. Before you even head out shopping, make a plan for what you need to purchase and the amount you can spend based on your income. Don’t forget to subtract necessary monthly expenses, which may include grocery shopping, co-pays, and monthly utility costs, from what you allow yourself to spend. From there, determine how much leftover money you can use for shopping, leisure activities, or social functions.

Consider who you need to make purchases for and think about what you would like to get them. There is nothing worse than receiving a credit card bill for purchases you made the month prior–that you now cannot afford. Sticking to your budget will be the best thing you do for your future self, even if that means not buying every little item on your wishlist.

Utilize Technology to Stay on Track

Once you’ve created a budget, it’s your responsibility to keep your finances in check as life gets busy. Rather than aimlessly swiping your credit card, hoping you’re still under budget, you need to be intentional about tracking your spending. Consider downloading a mobile banking app with no extra charges or hidden fees, which will help you avoid burning through additional money you could be saving.

Mobile banking is a great way to keep track of how much you’re spending if you’re traveling or just constantly on-the-go. Life is full of unexpected circumstances, and it’s very likely that you will spend a few dollars on things you didn’t originally plan to buy. With that being said, the better equipped and informed you are on the state of your personal finances, the easier it will be to make smarter shopping decisions.

Avoid Impulse Spending

If you’re someone who gets overwhelmed and sidetracked at the store, you’re not alone. Most retail and grocery stores stage their products in the store based on what will grab your attention and simulate you during your shopping experience. It’s easy to get distracted as you’re walking down each aisle, convincing yourself how these products can enhance your life.

To combat this marketing tactic, make a shopping list ahead of time, including everything you need and bring coupons you have for those products. You should cross off each item as you put it in your cart and make notes next to any products you don’t find or want to purchase elsewhere due to overpricing or poor selection. Making a list will help you strategize, be more productive, and save money as you shop for groceries or gifts for the holidays.

Avoid Spending Money You Don’t Have

Debt is a huge issue that is impacting many individuals, families, and businesses. We are spending money we don’t have, telling ourselves we will eventually earn that money and pay it back. What we often forget is the longer time passes, the more interest is tacked on, only prolonging our ability to pay it off. Try to avoid using credit cards for purchases you don’t have the money for at that time and avoid any high-interest rates. If you are considering getting a loan for a gift you’ve thoroughly thought out and researched, there are other more convenient 30-day loan options that might be more financially sensible. Utilizing a short-term, alternative financing option will not acquire as much interest and will force you to plan to pay back this money within the month.

Search for Deals

Saving money isn’t going to happen overnight, especially if you’re not putting in the additional time and research to help you get the best deals. Reading ads to see which stores have sales throughout the week does take some extra effort but will be worth the dollars saved. Comparing prices online is a great idea, especially when deliberating a large purchase.

You don’t want to spend money irrationally only to find the same item for half the price at a later date from a different store or company. Consider price matching if a particular store honors this. Many stores will give you a better price for specific products offered at a lower rate from a competitor. Again, this takes some extra effort, but pinching your pennies will allow you more freedom to spend money in other places.

Just like any habit, shopping can drastically help or hurt your personal budget. Many people have found financial success by merely adjusting their patterns of spending–and taking a more organized and planned approach to shopping. Building budgeting skills and strategizing spending money does take practice; however, it will help make better decisions and provide you with the flexibility that comes from more purchasing power.

Photograph of author Joseph Priebe

Joseph Priebe

Joseph Priebe takes pride in assisting audiences with his articles to help them make sound financial decisions.

With over ten years of experience writing financial content his goal at CASH 1 has always been creating engaging and easy-to-digest information for anyone searching for immediate or long-term monetary solutions.

When Joseph is not writing about personal finance, you can find him photographing the Southwest United States with his 4x5 Graflex Crown Graphic camera. He is based in Phoenix, Arizona.