Spring Clean Your Shopping Habits for Big Things
Is your desk just a vision of organizational loveliness? Did you spring clean that clutter and that budget? Hopefully, you feel fresh and focused. Don't put away that apron just yet. This week, we are going to spring clean our shopping habits.
I'm pretty decent with shopping within my budget. But every once and while, I forget some really good basics of shopping for no other reason than as I just do...whether I'm rushed or I get paralyzed with indecision or I get swayed by a sale that really doesn't save me money...yeah, I could go on. When this happens, I know I need to spring clean my shopping habits.
From those not-so-often purchases (like gadgets and computers or even bigger investments like a washing machine or a car) to your trip to the grocery store to buying clothes, there are some good shopping mantras, hints, gentle reminders to follow so you stay on budget.
Let's start with the not-so-often buys. Say your fridge conked out or your dropped your phone in the toilet. You need a new one -- and you don't want to totally wreck the good work you've done keeping that Family Piggy Bank healthy. Here's a list of ideas to keep in mind as you set off on that big spending trip.
-- Know your budget. When shopping for a washing machine or a new camera, you need to know what you can spend. Not only what you can spend, but also what you want to spend on it and how you will use that item. Think about that camera and the cost-per-use. Will you use it every couple of months or every week? If you aren't going to use it that often, then don't spend too much on it. If you will be using it a lot, think about the higher end of your budget. It will be worth it in the long run, just like you want to invest in a good washing machine that will last you 20 years, not five.
-- Measure. If this is a purchase like a couch or a fridge, know what is going to fit and work in your space. A mix-up like this can cost you restocking fees, delivery charges, and lots of wasted time.
-- Talk to people. If you are shopping for a new car, talk to your friends, your family, your coworkers. See what they like and don't like about their purchase, who they bought it from and so on.
-- Do your research. Look online at sites like Consumer Reports and CNET. Don't stop with just online reviews. Say you are shopping for appliances -- ask that local contractor whose son plays on your son's soccer team about brands he likes and other things to keep in mind.
-- Get to know the sales people. As you pre-shop at Lowes or Sears or Best Buy or wherever, talk with sales people. Yes, they want to make a sale, but they also have great info like the brands that are brought back most often, when sales may be happening (perhaps how much items will be marked down for around Fourth of July or Labor Day), hints other lower-cost brands that give the same quality, and so on.
What was the last big purchase you made? What savvy shopping hints did you use?