Shopping Tips

Have a plan

  • Try to avoid unplanned shopping or impulse buying.
  • If you want to buy something, ask yourself if you really need it.
  • Take your time to think about it before you buy.
  • And when you shop, make a list. Planning your shopping will help you avoid purchases that you do not need.

Compare, compare, compare

  • When you take time to plan before you shop, you can compare products to find the best deal.
  • Before buying, do some research. Go to different stores to see if you can get a better price.
  • Look on the internet for customer reviews to find out if other people were happy with the product.
  • See if there is another product out there that is just as good, less expensive.

Look at unit prices

  • In Canada, we buy gas by the litre. This cost of a litre of gas is an example of a unit price.
  • It is the amount something costs by a certain unit of measurement.
  • Products can be measured by all kinds of units: grams, kilograms, pounds, ounces, yards, feet, litres, milliliters, and so on.
  • Grocery stores are required to post unit prices below many items on their shelves. To compare products and know if we are getting a good deal, it helps to figure out how much something costs per unit.

Buy on sale

  • Watch for sales and discounts.
  • If something you use often is on sale, buy extra
  • Check store flyers for coupons, discount codes, and special offers.
  • Get to know the sales cycles in the stores you shop at regularly. Many items go on sale at the end of season.
  • This might be a good time to buy the things you need.

‘Sale’ does not always mean ‘good deal’

  • Sometimes the sale being advertised is not a sale at all.
  • There may be even better deals out there that are not being advertised that way.
  • Also, just because something is on sale, does not mean you need to stock up.
  • Buying on sale only makes sense if you will use the product.
  • Keep this in mind when buying food that will go bad.
  • Make sure that you will be able to use it all before it expires or goes to waste.

Read the fine print

  • Make sure that you know all about the product or service you are buying before you pay any money or sign your name to any agreement.
  • Are there any hidden fees? Does the product come with a warranty?
  • This is a guarantee that a product will meet certain standards, and will be replaced if it does not.
  • To get the warranty, do you have to mail in a form?
  • Does the store have a refund or return policies?

Ask questions

If there is any policy or anything in the fine print that you do not understand, ask questions. Salespeople should be there to help you. It is your money. You should not spend it unless you believe that you are getting something of value for it.

Keep your receipts

Keeping your receipts can be helpful for a lot of reasons. You can go over your receipts to make sure you were not overcharged, or charged for something that you did not get. Reviewing your receipts is also a good way to keep track of your expenses. Also, most stores require a receipt for a refund, return, or exchange.

Try alternative shopping

Thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales can be great places to find great deals. There are also many websites where people sell their used items at a low cost. These are called ‘online classifieds’. When buying used goods, be sure to inspect them carefully. Make sure that they are in good, working condition. Most private sellers do not offer refunds.

November 12, 2014
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