Smart shopping - tips to save you money
From your weekly food shop to your next big electrical purchase, here are a few smart and easy ways to get the most from your money.
Check your spending
To start saving, it’s a good idea to look at where you’re spending the most. Doing a budget and keeping a spending diary is an excellent way to get started.
If your groceries seem expensive, try different stores. There can be a big price difference between the same products in different packaging. If possible, avoid smaller convenience stores as their prices are often higher.
Have a plan
We all know that feeling of unpacking the shopping and wondering what you’re going to use to make a meal. So before you go shopping, it helps to check what you already have in, plan a few meals and make a list.
Watch the ‘special offers’
Special offers can be a great way to save money, but they can sometimes make you spend more on stuff you won’t use. Will those ‘3 for 2’ or ‘3 for £1’ offers really save you money? Buying the three single items in another supermarket might be cheaper. If you do find a genuine deal on goods that will last, it might be worth bulk buying, especially if you’re shopping for a family.
Compare the market
If you’re making a big purchase, always compare prices in a few different shops and online to find the best deal.
Buying online may be the cheapest option but you won’t be able to try before you buy. However in most cases buying online gives you the right to cancel up to 14 working days after you receive your goods. If you are buying online, check the cost of postage and packaging as these can stack up.
Comparison sites are a great way to save money on goods from fridges and washing machines, to digital cameras and TVs, and also supermarket shopping. You can also compare the price of your weekly shop across many of the big stores and see when your favourites are on offer.
Use outlet stores
For your favourite brands, an outlet stores owned by that company can be a great place to bag a bargain. Because all the items sold in outlet stores are made by the same company they are usually sold at a discount. The stock in a branded outlet store may not be the very latest design, but it will be genuine and it will be cheaper.
Read the reviews
It’s worth reading customer and expert reviews on the products you’re interested in. Comparison websites also have user reviews to help you decide. You can look for unbiased reviews from independent consumer organisations online and compare reviews. Another good tip is to search for the product name and add the word problem error after the name to see what common problems other consumers have experienced.
Know your rights
Impulse buys are best avoided at any time, but especially in shops. You have the right to cancel an order on goods bought at a distance (by phone, online, mail order or shopping channel) from the moment you place to the order, until 14 days after you receive the goods.
These rights don’t apply if you buy it instore, so if you change your mind, it might be harder to get a refund.
If something goes wrong with a purchase, buying on your credit or debit card gives you greater protection than cash or cheque.
Credit cards offer the most protection – as long as the item or service you bought cost over £100 you can claim against your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to get your money back.
The Money Advice Service has some useful information on how you’re protected when you pay by card to help decide whether cash, cheque, debit or credit is your best method of payment.
Money back offers
Paying for items through a cashback site can save money on your shopping. Just by clicking through to a site and making a purchase, you’ll receive money back. But you probably won’t receive it immediately so be prepared to wait and always compare prices first – you may get a better deal elsewhere.
Use vouchers and coupons
There are many websites that will email you discount vouchers for various products and services. Some of them seem too good to be true, and probably are. Others can really save you money.
Many deals claim to cut up to 90% off the original price, so check similar items or services to see if that’s really true.
Some shops and restaurants may give you vouchers if you sign up to their weekly newsletter or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. This can be a great way to save on favourite brands you often use.