Cheaper isn’t always better! The biggest bargain hound in the world can sometimes find themselves spending more money overall than a smart shopper who pays attention to more than just the price. Learning how to be a strategic shopper can save you a lot of money in the long run, while paying too much attention to just the price tag can be an expensive mistake. Here’s some things to think about to help you become a strategic shopper.
Quality Lasts Longer
You may never buy a $400 shoe, but you’ve probably spent more than $400 on shoes over the past 2 or 3 years. Think about the typical cheap work shoe that you can pick up at Payless or Walmart. It’s probably got a faux leather finish, a simple rubber sole, a fit that’s not too comfortable, and if you do a lot of walking and standing at work, it probably will last you about four to six months before there are holes worn right through the sole and the stitching is coming out along the sides. That shoe may have cost you $35 or $40, and when you have to buy a new one two to three times per year, you can swiftly rack up the cost of a really good shoe in cheap, uncomfortable replacements… and your feet will hurt the whole time.
Durability may be more obvious in shoes, which are constantly being worn away by the act of walking, but you’ll notice it in all of your clothes. Cheap pants quickly develop holes and split seams; cheap shirts lose buttons and won’t hold a crease; and cheap electrical appliances frequently break, costing you a lot of money in replacements or repairs. If saving up for the more expensive, much more durable option is within your means, you should do it.
Bulk Shopping Saves Money
This tip comes with a caveat: if you won’t actually use all of the things you’re buying, it’s a waste. Don’t get a gallon-sized drum of chocolate sauce just because the per-ounce price is phenomenal: that’s a perfect example of low apparent cost and high real cost. On the other hand, when you’re buying something like rice, which will stay perfectly usable for a year or more and can easily supplement many meals, why not get a 20 or 40 pound bag to keep in your kitchen? Household goods such as toilet paper or paper towels are just as good a choice for bulk shopping. Even perishables like meat can be portioned out and put in a chest freezer for use as the occasion arises. Don’t let the higher item prices scare you away from saving money by buying in bulk.
Consider Refinancing and Consolidating
If you have multiple sources of debt, such as student loans, a home mortgage and line of credit, and so on, you might want to consider the long-term money-saving benefits of refinancing. Interest rates are at historic lows right now, and if you have good credit, you might be eligible for a refinancing deal that will cut the amount of interest you pay drastically over the life of your loans. It may involve paying right now for the refinancing, but consider how much you’re paying in interest on your loans as they are, and how much that number would drop if you were able to cut a refinancing deal that reduced your interest rate below 5%.
Is your money flying out the door? If you have bad insulation in your home, that could be literally true. Heating and cooling your home is expensive, and the more heat is lost to the environment (or the more heat enters your home in summer) the more you’re going to spend in utility bills. Those can add up in a hurry. If you think your home might need new insulation, get a contractor to take a look, and price out bids for improving the situation before you waste more money in heat or air conditioning that just goes to make the air around your house a little more comfortable.
There are hundreds of places where you may find that spending a little more money to begin with will turn out to be a money-saver in the long run. Keeping your car well-maintained and your home and property regularly checked for problems that can become expensive in the long run, for example, will save you from unexpected repair costs. Shop smart!