Tips for Efficient Price Shopping

When you want to purchase an item, your first instinct may be to go to your local store right away.

 

However, that is not always the way to get the item you desire at the best price. In fact, you are likely going to pay far too much when you shop impulsively. You may not be purchasing the item from the source that offers the best price or at a time when the item is on sale.

When the difference is only a few cents it may not matter, but often you can save a much larger amount of money by shopping in an organized fashion. Efficient price shopping is possible, but it requires you to shop in an informed manner. Often, you may need to combine multiple shopping strategies to get the best price on the items you wish to purchase. Below are some tips for efficient price shopping.

Identify the Cheapest Sources for Products You Buy Often

It is likely you buy certain products repeatedly, especially food. Developing habits and favorite items is human nature. Therefore, you can implement efficient price shopping by locating the sources that typically offer the products you love at the best prices. For example, if you have three local grocery stores and like a specific brand of frozen products, check the three stores to find the one with the best everyday price on that brand. However, you must factor travel into the equation. Wasting money on gas to get the best price on a product may negate any potential savings.

Comparing sources before purchasing products can be particularly useful when you are shopping for products online. Many websites offer price comparison tools you can use to search for the best deals. Online comparison shopping is also somewhat easier than comparing local store prices because you can do it from the comfort of your own home without wasting gas or travel time. However, you must consider shipping charges when ordering online products. Often, high shipping charges may turn a seemingly good online deal a bad choice.

Learn When Sales Are Likely

Most items go on sale eventually, but some sales are easier than others to predict. For example, many grocery stores operate on six-week sale cycles. In other words, a product currently on sale is likely to also be on sale six weeks from now. However, grocery store sale cycles can vary. By learning the sale cycles of your local grocery stores, you can prepare for shopping trips ahead and use strategies like couponing to get even larger discounts.

Certain non-grocery products also go on sale in somewhat predictable ways. For example, if you want the best deal on an item of clothing, it is usually recommended you buy it when the season in which it is typically worn is ending. For instance, you might find an inexpensive winter coat just as winter is giving way to spring. Electronics also go on sale according to a predictable pattern. Typically, when a new model is released, the previous model is discounted. You will never have current electronic devices, if you take advantage of such sales. However, older devices often perform similar functions to those performed by their newer counterparts.

Make the Most of Sale Ads and Coupons

Newspaper ads, also known as circulars, are great sources of ads and coupons you can use to find the best local prices on your favorite products each week. You can also find many types of coupons and ads online and on your cellular phone. When using coupons, sale ads or a combination of both, you must pay close attention to the fine print. Look for information like:

  • Dates on which the ad or coupon is valid
  • Product type, size and quantity limits
  • Rain check policy information
  • Limitations regarding which store branches will honor the ad or coupon

When using coupons, you have several options. You can clip them from the newspaper, but you can also find them online. Some can be printed and brought to your favorite local stores. Others must be accessed through a mobile app on your cell phone and scanned in the checkout line. You can even find online coupon codes for reducing the cost of purchases made on popular websites. When using coupons to make in-person purchases you also have the option of combining coupons. Manufacturers release coupons for their products but stores also often release coupons for those products. Using two coupons together is called coupon stacking. Practice coupon stacking as often as you can to maximize savings. To make sure you have not missed any in your area, use a free service, such as ShopLocal.com, which searched through all your local flyers and gives you the stores offering the best deals on items you are looking for.

 

Learn Local Price Matching, Adjustment and Competitor Coupon Policies

Price matching is when a store policy requires the store to match a lower price offered by a competitor. You must present proof of the price difference when you make your purchase. For example, you can bring a competitor’s ad to the store in question and explain the price difference to the cashier. Your cell phone can also be used to show competitor price differences listed online. Price matching can be useful when you want to do all of your shopping in one store while still getting the best prices. Some large retail stores will even refund you money if you present proof of a competitor offering a lower price within a set period after your purchase. A good strategy for stores that offer this arrangement is to find the item for sale on Amazon, save it to your phone, then show it to customer service in the store where you wish to purchase the item. Common stores that practice price matching include:

  • Lowe’s
  • Home Depot
  • Fry’s
  • Target
  • Staples

Price adjustment is similar to price matching. However, price adjustment refers to stores matching their own prices. For example, if you purchase an item in a store and find out the item went on sale the following day, the store may refund the difference to you. Not all stores offer price adjustment, so you must check the policies of your local stores ahead of time.

Some of your local stores may also accept competitor coupons. Such policies can be useful to you if one store is having a sale and the other is offering an in-store coupon in the same week. However, not every store will honor coupons from competitors. Those that do may also only accept coupons from certain other store chains, not all stores. Therefore, requesting full explanations of local competitor coupon policies at your favorite stores is essential.

 

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