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18 Clever Ways to Cut Costs While Shopping

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Cutting costs will give you better peace of mind.

When you can reduce the cost of everyday items and occasional purchases, you can use the savings to fund your financial goals.

In this list, you’ll learn 18 clever ways to cut costs and support your financial security. 

What does “cutting costs” mean?

It’s often associated with businesses that look at cost-cutting measures to increase profitability. 

In personal finance, cost-cutting means to spend less money. 

The following are 4 important financial habits:

  • Track Your Expenses Regularly: Track your spending and review your expenses regularly to identify areas where you can cut back or save money.
  • Plan Ahead: Before heading to the store, make a shopping list based on what you need. Check your pantry, fridge, and household supplies to avoid buying duplicates.
  • Avoid Impulse Purchases: Stick to your shopping list and avoid making impulse purchases. If you see something you want but don’t need, wait a day or two before buying it to see if you still want it.
  • Pause Before Purchasing: Before making a purchase, consider whether the item is a necessity or a want and whether it will truly satisfy you.

Here’s a money tip: don’t pay more than you should on any purchase. Find ways to lower costs by understanding how to pay less for your needs and wants.

This list includes many cost-cutting measures I’ve taken myself, including using cashback shopping portals, rewards credit cards, coupons, and rebate apps.

1. Look for Sales and Discounts

Check store flyers, websites, and apps for sales and promotions. Many stores offer weekly specials and discounts on certain items, a traditional way to pay less. You can stock up when certain items go on sale.

2. Use Coupons

Clip coupons from newspapers, magazines, or online coupon websites. Many stores also have apps or loyalty programs that offer digital coupons. Flipp is one such app.

3. Buy Generic Brands

Consider purchasing generic or store-brand products instead of name brands. They are often less expensive and can be of comparable quality. For instance, Walmart’s Great Value brand. I often look at where the generic brand was made and find it’s often the same company that makes the leading brands.

4. Use Perscription Discount Cards

Save money on prescription medications by using discount cards like GoodRX. You can also opt for generic versions whenever possible. They are often much cheaper than brand-name drugs and contain the same active ingredients. Ask your doctor and pharmacist.

5. Participate in Cashback Shopping Portals

Cashback shopping portals (like Rakuten) can be used to partner with retailers to offer cashback rewards on purchases. You earn money back by using the portal when shopping for items online. Need the item sooner? You can still use the cashback shopping portal and choose in-store pickup.

6. Scan Grocery Receipts

Use rebate apps on your smartphone that offer rebates on purchases made at participating retailers. Scan receipts or link your accounts to earn cashback on eligible purchases. Try out some faves like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.

7. Get Gasoline Rebates

Download apps like Upside to find lower-priced gas near you and earn discounts on your next fill-up. I’ve used GetUpside for a couple of years and often get gas priced 10 cents or less than advertised, as well as a rebate.

8. Sign Up for Rewards Programs

Join loyalty programs offered by your favorite stores to earn points, discounts, and exclusive offers on your purchases. For instance, I get the advertised sales price at Publix and earn cash rewards at Walgreens. Think of the places you frequently shop and sign up for the program.

9. Shop at Warehouse Clubs

Consider joining a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club to access bulk discounts, from groceries to household items. You can also share the membership with someone else and can shop and save together. 

10. Opt for Refurbished Electronic

Do you really need to buy it new? Refurbished products are often significantly cheaper and still function like new ones after being inspected and repaired. I’ve bought refurbished electronics and tech. Sometimes, the gadgets were close to new. You can shop for refurbished iPhones, tablets, and more on Gazelle and at retailers like Apple and Best Buy.

11. Shop with Discount Gift Cards

Buy discounted gift cards to save money on your purchases. For instance, I’ll buy discounted gift cards for travel booking sites as well as retail stores. I often save anywhere from 5% or more. Now, if you couple these purchases with coupons, rebates, and cashback apps, you’re stacking your savings. Raise is a popular site to buy discounted gift cards.

12. Maximize Credit Card Rewards

Use a rewards credit card to earn points, miles, or cashback on your spending. Pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges. If you don’t have a rewards credit card, you can apply for one or call customer service and ask them if they could upgrade your existing card to a rewards program.

13. Use Student, Senior, or Military Discounts

Don’t hesitate to ask for discounts when shopping at stores, restaurants, and other establishments. For example, Apple offers discounts on products for students. Simply ask, “Do you offer discounts for students?” The worst-case scenario is that they say, “No.”

14. Negotiate Prices

Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices, especially for big-ticket items. I used to fear doing this but realized there is always some wiggle room. Most of the time, big retailers can apply a small discount on top of the advertised sales price. Again, asking doesn’t hurt. 

15. Ask for Price Drop Refunds

Some retailers offer refunds if the price drops shortly after your purchase. I’ve asked for refunds after noticing an item has dropped in price. For instance, I bought a cruise that dropped in price within 30 days. I called the cruise line, and they offered an $800 cruise credit. Keep an eye on price changes and request a refund if applicable.

16. Take Advantage of Price Guarantees

Some retailers offer price guarantees that refund the difference if you find the same item at a lower price elsewhere within a specified timeframe. Keep receipts and monitor prices to take advantage of these guarantees.

17. Consider Renting Instead of Buying

Rent instead of buy for items you only need temporarily. This can be a cost-cutting method for things like tools, equipment, or formal attire. You can find many things to rent from your neighbors in marketplaces like Nextdoor. And you can also list your stuff for rent and make extra money on the side.

18. Shop Online Marketplaces

There are many buy/sell marketplaces where you can score better deals by buying gently used items, from clothes to household items to furniture and tools. Check out Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and other buy/sell marketplaces.

You have just read through some clever ways to cut costs and pay less for almost anything you buy.

What are your suggestions? What could you add to this list?

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