We're out of Level 5. We have been given precious time to shop before Christmas. Do you need a plan for shopping? Are you frustrated with your lack of organisation when it's time to go to your supermarket or any shop? Want a template that covers all when it comes to getting value? John Lowe of Money Doctors gives advice on how to spend less when shopping.
Oscar Wilde was the wrong role model for our savvy shopper when he said anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination…
Here are 15 different ways in which you can save money when shopping:
1. Shop around, comparing prices and value for money. There are several different ways to do this: face-to-face, by telephone, using the Internet or via an agent or broker. If you are buying a financial product, simply email me.
2. Avoid impulse purchases. Sometimes your eyes are bigger than your pockets. That luxury box of chocolates with your favourite ingredient.
3. Do your research. Whether you are buying a packet of cornflakes or a diamond watch, know what product choice is available, what the differences are between products and what a good price would and should be.
4. Get several quotes – the essence of "shopping around" Never pay an insurance renewal notice until you have at least two other quotes.
5. Don’t assume that loyalty will pay. Most commercial organisations count on 'customer inertia’, customers coming back for something time and again without shopping around. Some will even let you find better deals, then match them thinking you will still stay. If they do not give you their best deal in the first place, they do not deserve your custom.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for money off or a special deal. It may help to say you are a regular customer or, if it is true, that you are about to move your business elsewhere.
7. Businesses sell things with ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ values. Known values are things like petrol, where the price is more or less known by everyone. Unknown values are things like travel or car insurance, where most customers have only a vague idea about what the cost should be. It is on the unknown value sales that companies make their fattest profits. If you are not certain what the current market rate is for something, it is all the more important that you shop around. You will soon find a level that is "in or around" a fair price.
8. Check whether the same thing is available online for less. Be suspicious of price-comparison sites, however, as many earn secret commission and few are comparing like with like.
9. See if you can buy what you want for less direct from the manufacturer, wholesaler or from a catalogue. Buying direct, if you can, will always be cheaper.
10. Look on eBay and at the other auction sites (e.g. donedeal.ie) to see whether you can buy what you want at a lower price.
11. Buy in larger quantities. Usually, the more you buy of something, the lower the price. Non-perishable obviously e.g. toilet rolls, kitchen towel paper.
12. Accept something slightly different because it is less expensive. You might be paying for a brand name but there is usually little difference between a top brand and the 2nd or 3rd top brand - TK Maxx is one example.
13. Buy ‘own brand’. Quality of generic own brand products have improved enormously in latter years and well worth considering. In some cases, the generic brand is the same product exactly.
14. Buy second-hand. Pre-owned things usually cost a lot less. Don’t forget charity shops – it’s a win-win if you find the right item.
15. Make sure you really want it. Maybe you can make do without so don’t buy just for the sake of buying. Sadly this happens quite frequently at Christmas.
What's the easiest way to improve finances?
It can be hard to generate a higher income, but it is easy to shop well. Spending your money more carefully and budget-consciously is the quickest and most effective way to improve your finances. Happy shopping.