You want this year to be the one when your financial fortunes drastically improve, right? Don’t deny it – I just know it’s one of your New Year resolutions. However, like a lot of New Year resolutions, you probably won’t achieve it without serious determination and resourcefulness.
Thankfully, I’m ‘The Money Guy’, so when it comes to helping you to save money in all kinds of ways, I’m your man. Shopping, in particular, can empty an awful lot of people’s wallets very quickly, so I thought I’d put together a handy list of tips for slashing the amount of cash the average trip to the supermarket or online shop sets you back.
Ask for discounts – even if none are ‘offered’
We all love ‘money off’ deals, but did you know it’s sometimes possible to magic some out of thin air? Yeah, I know. Believe it or not, some stores have a policy whereby if someone asks for a discount, 10% off the marked price is automatically given. It’s definitely worth a try, isn’t it?
But don’t forget the many voucher code websites out there!
Some retailers will always be stubborn to your attempts to haggle, but that’s fine, because plenty of these retailers are present on the various popular discount code websites that are dedicated to helping you save money on all manner of products from the biggest-name brands. Whether it’s an Amazon voucher code or an eBay code for money off your next purchase, never buy online without at least searching for discount codes!
Downshift your choice of brand or store
It’s a well-known tip – go for the ‘next brand down’ from whatever one you usually buy. If you normally purchase from your supermarket’s ‘finest’ or ‘extra special’ range, try the equivalent product from the standard range instead. If the standard range is your usual choice, go for the comparable item from a more downmarket supermarket, and so on.
But if it’s so obvious advice, why am I giving it at all? First of all, so many people just don’t downshift, as they are hypnotised by brand loyalty or snobbery. Secondly, have you ever actually compared premium goods with their ‘lesser’ counterparts? A lot of the time, there’s no discernible difference.
Be intelligent in your use of BOGOF offers
Just in case you think I’m being rude, that’s not an instruction. It’s an acronym, standing for ‘Buy One, Get One Free’, also sometimes expressed as ‘two-for-one’ or ‘half price’. Whichever of these terms you see, the basic principle of taking advantage of them is the same: think about whether you are actually saving any money in the long term.
If you are buying something like toilet roll or toothpaste, a BOGOF offer is probably great, as you will almost certainly use the extra product over time and would have had to buy it anyway. But what if the item is something with a fast-coming Use By date that you might not get round to using before it expires? In that case, it’s not such a wise idea to ‘BOGOF’.
Do some good old-fashioned haggling
We may be living in a world of heavy online-based discounts for all manner of products, but the old-fashioned art of the face-to-face haggle isn’t completely dead – and you can rest assured that it is most definitely an ‘art’! Don’t be confrontational and aggressive, but don’t be too cowardly either. If you feel that you have the ‘gift of the gab’, a cheeky haggle is certainly worth a go.
Save on eBay by collecting in person
How could this possibly save you money? After all, aren’t there fuel costs involved in driving to a seller’s house? Well, that’s true – but I’m referring more to the tendency for collection-only eBay items to cost less than those that are able to be posted around the world, for the obvious reasons that only local people can effectively bid for them.
MoneySavingExpert.com has a Local eBay Deals Mapper that should be very useful here.
Don’t waste food due to date confusion
‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’ dates are very different things, and presuming them to be the same can force you to waste a lot of food that you paid good money for.
If a product’s ‘Use By’ date has expired, throw it away – eating it poses a health risk, even if it still appears and smells OK. ‘Best Before’ dates, however, merely indicate when the manufacturer considers the product to be of optimum quality, and usually aren’t related to safety at all.
‘Display Until’ and ‘Sell By’ dates, meanwhile, aren’t intended for you at all – they are instructions for shop staff, so you should completely ignore them.
How have you managed to save money on your own shopping down the years, and what are your favourite price-slashing tips for 2016? Let me – and my readers – know in the comments section below!