These days no one can afford to waste money. Even people who are well-off financially need to maximize use of their resources, if they wish to stay “well-off.” The fact is that people generally spend more and less frugally when they have a lot to spend. As the economy plunges, though, it behooves consumers to change their ways. This calls for not only avoiding wasteful spending but actually making your money go further with each purchase or dollar spent. Here are ten ways to make this happen:
1. Shop around and compare prices before you buy anything. For most products and services, there can be huge differences in pricing structures, depending on where and when you shop. Buying roses the week before Valentines, for example, can be a very costly thing, mostly because the demand for this item is so high at that particular time. Knowing this, place an order for roses way ahead of time each year and you will save a bundle on this item alone. The same principle can apply to other items you know you will purchase each year.
As for buying big ticket items, strive to get prices from a variety of sources before you spend anything. Aggressive salespeople will try to force you to buy the very first thing they show you but don’t cave in. If looking for a bankruptcy attorney, for example, realize that every attorney you call will try to tie you in into her program despite offering a “free consultation.” By comparing fees, though, after talking to at least three different lawyers, you will discover that you can get competent bankruptcy representation for much less than what some high-priced attorneys charge.
2. Avail yourself of special discounts to specific segments of the population–i.e., military personnel, senior citizens, educators, the disabled, law enforcement personnel, etc. Many times people fail to get certain discounts because they are not aware of the privilege or because they assume that the discount won’t amount to much. The reality though is that these discounts can quickly add up to significant amounts over a period of time. Some discounts are not heavily advertised but are there for those who ask and are willing to take advantage of them.
3. Thoroughly research products and services before paying for them. Many people often over-pay for things simply because they did not do their homework. By knowing in advance what features to look for and what the average price is for the item(s) or services you seek, you will better prepare yourself to make competent, well-informed decisions about what to buy, when and where.
4. Start taking advantage of coupons, “freebie” offers, and specials. Some people laugh at people who use coupons but many people routinely save significant amounts of money simply by buying things only when they go on sale or when a coupon is available for the purchase.
5. Make shopping lists and stick to them. Many people get into trouble when they go shopping because they start to buy things that were not on their lists but which they suddenly develop an interest in. Shopping lists help to restrict not only what you buy but how much you spend over-all. In the long run this may mean having more money for necessities.
6. Avoid spur-of-the-moment, compulsive shopping. Buying things at convenience stores or merchants at main highway exits (which tend to cater to tourists) is a good way to pay more for items and services than necessary. Another bad habit is to pick up things you see at the check-out register or in aisles to which your shopping list should not have taken you. To make your dollars go much further each week, stick to what you absolutely need and must have.
7. Go to the place that offers the best deals instead of trying to be loyal to the same merchants. Walmart, for example, is famous for offering low prices but they do not have the lowest prices on everything. Some items, in fact, are cheaper at discount and dollar stores–things like cleaning products, snacks, paper products, toiletries, and canned goods.
8. Strive to shop when it is most efficient and least costly. Avoid, for example, shopping at busiest times for supermarkets. Remember that your time is worth money. Time you spend unnecessarily waiting to be cashed out is time you could be using in better ways. Also, avoid shopping for food when you are hungry–this only motivates you to buy more food than you need.
9. Buy in bulk whenever possible. Buying in large quantities (especially from discount warehouse stores) makes a lot of sense. This is especially beneficial if what you are buying can be frozen for use at a much later time or if it can be stored away without refrigeration.
10. Buy generic products rather than brand names. Although they often contain almost the same ingredients, generic and brand name products often have drastically different prices. People may form attachments to brand names but you can make your dollar go much further if you start to look for much-cheaper alternatives to many of the products offered out there. In terms of services, look for professionals with low overhead costs; they may not have a full-page ad in the local phone book but they may be just as competent as their over-priced (with good reason) counterparts.