When you’re trying to save money or cut expenses, it’s all too easy to convince yourself that your budget has no room for fun. Your credit card payments are staring you down, your rent just went up again, and, of course, your car chooses this moment to break down. With so much else to worry about, how can you rationalize spending money on fun things like shopping?
If you don’t incorporate a bit of fun into your budget, you’ll find your efforts are ultimately unsustainable. Instead, you can put your efforts towards saving money when you shop for fun items like a canvas print of your favorite artwork or a salt and pepper diamond ring for someone you love. Then, the key becomes this: how can you implement tips and tricks to make your shopping more affordable?
Take advantage of alternative markets.
Whatever it is you have your eye on, consider the less-than-obvious places you could find it. Rather than going to your local dealership, check out a few car auction sites to see if there’s a better deal on your new ride. Skip the designer storefront, and look at an outlet shop or consignment store to find the same brand-name items for less. Do you need to buy something from a traditional store, or will you find it at a better price on Etsy, with the chance to support a small business owner, too? There won’t always be a cheaper option, but when there is, it will pay off in savings.
Be open to variations.
When you’re shopping for something specific, you likely have a particular item or image in mind. Often, though, you can find a better deal that’s just as good, if not better, by considering a variation of that item instead. If you’re searching for a classic white diamond engagement ring, for instance, consider a salt and pepper diamond ring as a less expensive option. A unique salt and pepper diamond won’t just make for a beautiful engagement ring—it will be a standout statement piece, too.
Make quality investments.
It may take a bit more funding upfront, but investing in high-quality items when you shop will pay off with major savings in the long run. For example, imagine you want to showcase a favorite photo on your living room wall. You could order a cheap print or even create one on your personal printer. But there’s a good chance you’ll have to replace it soon after when it tears or gets otherwise damaged.
If you have your favorite image transformed into gallery-quality canvas art, though, you’ll find that it lasts longer and looks better, too. Whether it’s buying a piece of clothing that will last for years to come or picking the slightly more expensive phone that will work for ages, putting more money into a purchase upfront when you’re able can save you a lot in the long term.
Always look for savings.
Gone are the days when finding coupons meant spending hours poring through newspaper advertisements, adding strange brands to your order in hopes of saving fifty cents. Whether shopping online or in-person, you’ll save a small fortune by checking for coupons before you finalize a purchase. Try using a browser extension, app, or website that suggests discounts at your favorite online store or that even applies coupon codes automatically at checkout. In-person, keep an eye out for offers that can save you money, whether that’s signing up for text updates or a rewards card. And, of course, always be sure to check the clearance rack.
Consider the season.
You might not realize it, but stores often adjust prices on certain types of items at the same time of year every year. Before you make a purchase, particularly one with a lofty price tag, take a minute to figure out if it’s the best time to buy. If you really, truly need something as soon as possible, it might be worth missing out on a better deal. But, if you’re able to wait just a bit longer, that same item might be offered at a better price soon. Bye-bye, buyer’s remorse!
Sleep on it.
If a certain purchase doesn’t have a typical seasonal discount, or you can’t wait that long to buy, consider implementing a waiting period on your own terms. You know you need to buy this item, but do you need to buy it right now? Optimally, you’ll stick to a 30-day waiting period before making a major purchase. At the least, sleeping on the decision—putting it off until just the next day—can be just enough to make sure you’re spending your money wisely, saving you from needless spending.
No matter how hard you’re working to build a better budget, cutting fun things like shopping completely isn’t the answer. Instead, choose the highest quality items at the best price possible to make the perfect choice whenever you’re shopping. Put off a purchase if you can to save even more, or take advantage of deals and alternative shopping spots. With these savings hacks, you can shop ’till you drop—without leaving you with an empty wallet after the fact.