Shopping! (Do I need to say “Shopping on a Budget?”)

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What are your favorite things to shop for?  Mine include things like office supplies, craft supplies, electronics, anything sold in a hardware store (true of anything from the ma-and-pa store to the large national chains), candles in a specialty shop, pleasant-smelling bath supplies, and pretty much any type of gadget.

However, I’m apparently NOT the normal female — most of the time, I would rather do almost anything OTHER than shopping — and it’s been that way most of my life!  But since it cannot be avoided, I try to make the best of it.

So, some hints from someone who hates shopping might be helpful, right?  Let’s find out!

Food shopping is obvious — make a list, get what’s on the list, pay, and go home.  However, being organized enough to shop quickly takes some practice!  If you have a comprehensive list, it will be easier to avoid compulsive buying.  Best advice I can give you is to plan your menu carefully, so you can stay within your budget — but be flexible enough to take advantage of whatever sales you had not anticipated during your planning.  Not always easy.  I have found it easier to be flexible if I carry my menu with me into the store.  If something has to change (maybe the item I wanted has sky-rocketed in price, or isn’t available for some reason), then I can look at everything on the menu and adjust more easily than trying to adjust by memory.

Clothing shopping — what hints can I give?  First off, set a strict budget.  And actually carry the cash with you so when you run out of cash, you know you are finished!   That next item may be on sale, but if it takes you over your budget, it takes you over your budget!  Maybe you need to actually leave the plastic at home so you are not tempted?  Second hint — know what you need.  And if what you are shopping for needs to coordinate with something you already own, WEAR the item it needs to coordinate with!  That way, the colors actually DO coordinate when you are ready to wear them together!

Crafting shopping — If you are a crafter, this is one place you can easily spend way too much!  I sometimes go into craft supply stores just to get inspired.  When I do that, I try NOT to have more cash with me than I should spend.  If you enjoy bartering, this is a good place to put that skill to work!  My daughter-in-law is an excellent barterer / bargainer — she does remodeling just for the fun of it, and she has done a lot of it on very little money!  If someone has returned an item they purchased, that works perfectly well, but has a small dent where it would never be seen once installed, you can usually talk the sales people into lowering the price!  Another thing I have done to help curb excess spending on craft supplies is to look on the internet for bargains.  Doesn’t always work, but where it has, it has been worth it!  There are a number of sites online that give complete instructions for doing various kinds of crafts — so you can probably avoid purchasing instructions — just print them off the internet!

Electronics shopping — Best advice I can give anyone on shopping for electronics is to know as much about the various options you may have available as possible, including online pricing, before visiting a physical store, and then ask them at the store to educate you.  That way, you can ask intelligent questions — and you already know what price you would pay to get a comparable or the same item through the internet (don’t forget to include shipping price).  A new computer, for example, cannot be fully appreciated without a little hands-on exposure.  Same for any other electronic device.

[Comment on electronic devices:  BEFORE you purchase the item, particularly if you are on a tight budget, you may need to ask yourself if you NEED the item, or if it is a WANT.  Do you know the difference?  NEED means that you cannot function without it.  Questions to ask to determine this:  1)  Does my current electronic device still work?  2) Is there something not getting done (particularly relating to work) that needs to be done that I am unable to do with my current device?  3) Can I wait to replace it? and 4) Can I afford to replace it, or should I be spending that money on something else?]

For other types of shopping, you are on your own!  But I will say, if it costs much (on your budget), do as much comparison-shopping as possible!  And as much as possible, do it in the comfort of your home!  You will save time and money, and you will be happier with your purchase.  That is true whether you are shopping for a new car, an apartment to rent, Christmas presents, furniture — pretty much anything!  If I can go into a store well-informed, the sales person will not be able to dissuade me from whatever features I have determined I need or want on the item I am purchasing.  The same SHOULD hold true for you!

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2 thoughts on “Shopping! (Do I need to say “Shopping on a Budget?”)

    • We have all been there! It is a process to regain (or gain) control! What finally worked for me was having to face down-sizing after my husband died. With the help of my family, I have literally gotten rid of several tons of no-longer-useful stuff. And being on a limited budget, I am determined to keep my life simpler by having less. Hard to maintain “enough but not too much,” though. Too many years of practice at impulse buying! LOL!

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