**Disclaimer This post contains some affiliate links (all are marked with a *). That means, if you choose to make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. See full disclosure here.
Did you know that the price tag doesn’t always have the final say? You may be overpaying for your purchases.
If you are willing to do a little extra work, you can save yourself money on almost any purchase, big or small.
How to Save Money on Any Purchase
Step 1: Avoid unnecessary purchases
After a few years of budgeting, I’ve been forced to admit that I am the queen of impulse buys. “It’s only $5,” I tell myself to justify the purchase.
However, 3 five dollar purchases a month is $15. That is $180 a year. Over five years, that is $900 spent on junk.
In order to avoid unnecessary purchases and keep those $900 in your pocket, you first have to learn how to spot those sneaky impulse buys. Before making a purchase, try asking yourself these three questions below:
1. Is this a want or a need?
We often use the two words interchangeably, which blurs the lines a bit. I have said many times, “I am so tired. I need coffee.” In reality, I needed more sleep than I got the night before, so I want coffee.
Here are the definitions of each according to the dictionary:
Want– something you wish for, crave or desire. (i.e. Something that appeals to you but you could definitely live without.)
Need– a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation. (i.e. necessary for survival)
Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with spending money on things you want. In fact, each family member should have an allotment of money in the budget to spend on whatever he or she desires. However
, an allotment means you have a limit. With limits come choices. In order to make the most of your fun money, you have to protect it from silly, meaningless purchases.
2. Why do I want this?
Is this truly something you want or are you trying to live up to an expectation with this purchase? Is there an underlying need you should be dealing with instead (like the need for sleep I mentioned above)?
3. Is it really worth the money?
If you only have $25 worth of fun money this month, is a $6 coffee really worth it? Is there something else you’d rather buy with that money?
Every purchase you make involves a choice. By purchasing one $6 coffee a week, you are choosing to forfeit spending your money on the blouse you saw at the store last week. Money is finite. Think before you spend to make sure this is really what you want most.
You would be amazed at how much money you will save yourself just by taking the time to think through your purchases instead of mindlessly throwing things in the cart and swiping away. To help you remember, take a screenshot of this image (or add your email at the end of the post and I will send you a business card size printable copy to keep in your wallet).
Step 2: Wait
Instead of buying the item you want/need immediately, take the time to go through the steps below. Forcing yourself to wait and research holds you accountable to making smart decision with your money. If it isn’t worth the time to investigate and the ride back to the store, the item probably isn’t worth your money.
Step 3: Do your research
Use any of these popular sites to compare different products and look at customer reviews. You want to make sure you are getting the best value for your money.
Google– If you aren’t exactly sure what you want to buy (brand, model, etc.) a simple Google search could have your answer. Type “The best ______ (dishwasher, dog food, winter coat)” into the search bar and you will find comparison lists and reviews for different product options.
Amazon– Even if you aren’t planning on purchasing your item through Amazon, it is a great place to start. A simple search can bring you thousands of options with ratings and reviews from previous customers. This can help you decide on the best product and give you an idea of the average price.
Epinions– Epinions uses a review system similar to Amazon. People write reviews of products they have used and rank the items using a star system. Although the site offers information about many products, not all of the product profiles include reviews.
Consumer Reports– Consumer reports has high-quality information but it’s not free. If you are making a big purchase and are unable to find the results you need with the first three options, you may want to consider a digital subscription or finding someone with a subscription to look up the information for you.
Step 4: Find the Best Price
Once you know exactly what you want to purchase, down to the brand or model, it is time to find the best price.
PriceGrabber– Price Grabber is a pretty extensive website that shows you a roundup of all the online prices for the item you search for, giving you a quick and easy way to do a price comparison.
Favado App– When shopping for smaller items, like groceries, personal care items, etc., you can use the Favado app to compare prices in your area. You can also find more tips for saving money at the grocery store here.
**Time saving tip: You can compare prices while doing your research through Amazon or Google Shopping in order to complete steps 3 and 4 at once.
Step 5: Look for ways to Lower the Price
Option 1: Can you buy a used version?
When we need something, we automatically think of purchasing a new item. Does your purchase really have to be new? Could you look at a second-hand store first?
You would be amazed at the high quality items you can find at thrift stores. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
For appliances and houseware items go to: Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Option 2: Is there a coupon available?
Honey*- This is pure genius. If you are shopping online, this browser extension will automatically add any discount codes available to your purchase.
Savings.com– This website allows you to search for coupons by store or by category. The site even tells you where the best deals are on any given day. You can look for local deals or even coupons for the grocery store. You can also check out some of their great coupons off to the side or right here.
Option 3: Can you find a discount?
Groupon– I will admit, I haven’t had the best luck with Groupon products but I love using Groupon for services or entertainment. Thanks to Groupon, I haven’t paid full price for a haircut in years :).
Discount gift cards– This is a great hidden secret to save a few bucks. People will sell gift cards they don’t want online for a discount. This means, even if you can’t find a discount on the product you want, you may be able to spend $60 and only pay $45 using a discounted gift card. Here are two of my favorite places to look:
Option 4: Can you get cash back?
Ebates*: For online shopping, Ebates (and Honey) are your best friends. With Ebates, you can get a percentage back on purchases you make. All you have to do is go to the Ebates website first and then make your purchase from your favorite stores through their website. Ebates will send you a Big Fat Check every month with your cash back. It’s quick, easy, and costs you nothing!
Ibotta*: Ibotta is another awesome app that will save you money. You can search the app for offers on anything you are planning to buy before going to the store. You will save any applicable offers to the app.
After making your purchase, you scan the receipt and the app will calculate your cash back. Once you hit $20 in savings, you can cash out. Considering Ibotta will give you a $10 bonus just for signing up, $20 is not hard to reach.
Option 5: Is there a price match?
Many stores offer price matching. You can find a list of fifteen of those stores here. If you are shopping at a store that doesn’t appear on the list, you can still check their website or call to ask about their price matching policy.
What is a price match?
If you find a lower price for an item elsewhere, you can show proof of the lower price in the store where you’d like to make the purchase.
As long as this store allows price matching, they will sell you the item for the lower price.
Option 6: Can you negotiate?
This may feel awkward and rude at first, but it is an easy way to save money. I have had great success using this tactic with my utilities, service providers, or on big purchases with local companies and individuals.
By now, you have done all this research, you know where to find the best product and the best price. It’s time to use that information to your advantage.
Simply speak with the person/company and point out that XYZ company offers a similar service or product at a lower price. Chances are, since they want your business (or want to keep your business), they will be willing to lower the price a bit to make the sale.
Cash is especially helpful with negotiations. If you whip out a big envelope of cash, people tend to get excited. They can see the money and they want it!
Cash also helps you stick to your limits. If you only plan to spend $50 on your new dresser, only bring $50 with you. When speaking to the salesman, you can show him or her that you only have $50 to spend, not a cent more.
Step 6: Check your receipt for errors.
You’ve made it to the end! It’s time to purchase your well thought out treasure and rest assured that you are getting the best possible price. Just one last tip before you skip happily to your car.
Before leaving the store, review your receipt. Don’t be afraid to turn around and point out any errors. You worked hard for this purchase. Don’t let a computer glitch or cashier error get in your way now!
Whew, that was a lot!
This is a lot of important information. I don’t expect you to remember it all now. I would suggest pinning this post to refer back to later and adding your email below to receive the cheat sheet. It is a business card sized summary of this post that you can put in your wallet.
Happy saving! I can’t wait to find out what you do with all of your extra money :)!
Mom. Writer. Lover of all things DIY. My mission is to empower my fellow creatives to show money who’s boss, ditch debt and follow their dreams. Achieving debt freedom isn’t easy but our dreams are worth it!