Shopping! For many of us, it’s an irresistible activity! Of course, not all of us suffer from oniomania, the compulsive desire to shop (also called compulsive shopping, shopping addiction, shopaholism and Sushma Syndrome)! Yet, there is this irresistible force that compels many of us to buy even when we don’t want to!
In many cases shopping is driven by necessity; you just have to go out and buy something that you need. But on many other occasions we go shopping for the fun of it! The problem with these innocent, fun trips to the mall is that they can burn a gaping hole in your pockets. Therefore, it makes sense to be smart when it comes to shopping. It is far more prudent to have a shopping strategy rather than curse the ‘BIG SALE’ after you have spent meaningless thousands on buying something you didn’t want (or really need).
Decide what you need – The first step towards shopping smartly is deciding what you need. Many a times, a simple window shopping expedition can turn into an impulse buying spree and you may end up with items that attracted your attention but which you did not need at all. It is essential to draw a line between your needs, wants and desires before you step out to shop.
Make a list – To help your memory (and resolve), make a list of things you want to buy. This gives your shopping experience more focus and helps you in prioritizing the stores that you need to visit.
Make a budget – Decide upon an amount that you want to spend on a shopping trip. Shop-shop-till-you-drop may sound like a good cardio-workout but it is not always good for your bank balance. Overshooting the budget will warn you that it’s time to stop shopping, and buying within your budget could leave you with some money to splurge later on!
Dig out store/product reviews – Before you march into the mall with the intention of buying it out, talk to your friends and get some store reviews. If you are a loner when it comes to shopping, find out helpful reviews online so that you can skip the stores that are likely to be nothing more than a waste of time.
Screen variety and prices online – Although finding in-store offers and bargains can be an absolute thrill, it is better to go prepared; the internet now provides you with all the possible options and information. It is a smart shopping practice to find out comparable products, special discounts and other information online before visiting the marketplace.
Find out what is on ‘SALE’ – Browse the local newspapers or the internet to find out which stores are holding a sale before venturing out for your shopping spree. By buying stuff that is on sale, you not only save money but get more value for your buck. After all, you never know where your favorite designer outfit could be available at half price!
Thoroughly check the product before purchase – You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes to spot missing buttons or a broken antenna. Whether it’s a discounted purchase or a full price one, be sure to check the merchandise thoroughly before taking the final call. Items on discount are especially susceptible to hidden faults; in your haste and excitement to make the most of a bargain, you may land up with a bad deal.
Ask the sales staff for information – When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call upon the sales staff for additional information. Sales personnel usually work on commission and are always happy to assist you with a purchase. If knowing about a product can help you choose better and save time and money, then do ask the experts-on-hand for their opinion and advice. You should still take the final call.
Check the refund and exchange policies of the store – Refund and exchange policies may vary from vendor to vendor and making the assumption that they will be similar can cost you heavily. Make sure to confirm if the store refunds in case the merchandise turns out to be of unsatisfactory quality. If no refund is possible, try to negotiate an exchange offer for a product which you can’t try before purchasing.
Visit multiple shops before settling on the purchase – Your favorite dress (or equivalent) or your dream gadget may be available in multiple stores in close vicinity of each other; if you rush into the first store and buy straightaway, you may regret not finding out what the other stores had to offer. In- store promotions and freebies can vary from store to store for the same product. Therefore, it is wise to visit each store offering your desired product to make sure that you get the best deal.
Avail credit card offers – Plastic money can make you spend more than you intend to; however, if you stick to your budget and follow the other sensible steps, there is no harm in availing some cool discounts and offers that credit cards offer. Cash backs and bonus points tagged with various credit cards can make your shopping experience economical and enjoyable.
Ask for a cash discount – Always ask for cash discount and don’t shy away from some healthy bargaining. You would be surprised how many stores are ready to accommodate your demands just to buy your loyalty! If paying cash can save you some money, then try and refrain from using cards or opting for EMIs.
Remember, it is not difficult to shop smart; on the other hand, it is difficult to apply all that you know when there are aisles and aisles of goodies beckoning you. Following the simple tips outlined above and keeping a track of ‘what you really need’ can make your shopping experience fruitful and your bill payment exercise much less harrowing. So keep a cool head, waltz right into that store you have been eyeing…but shop smart!