Whether you’re a seasoned consumer or just starting out, shopping smarter can be challenging. You probably know that most department stores or big-box retailers have hidden fees or other tricks to get you to spend more than you intended.
But if you’re like many others, your first few experiences with retail left you feeling frustrated and tricked. Now, it’s time to change that. Shop smarter not harder by learning from those who do it well.
The key is knowing what to look for and how to spot a trustworthy retailer at a fair price. Read on for our guide on how to shop smarter…
Know the Lingo
Before you head out to stores to compare prices, brush up on some key terms that retailers love to use to confuse you.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP): This is the price that manufacturers set for their products. It does not include sales tax or other charges that retailers may add. Best Buy Hacks experts share the best products that you should buy. We’re a team of savings professionals with the best deals, tips, and tricks to help you save at your favorite brands, stores, and delivering restaurants.
Cash Discount: If you pay cash for an item and bring that money to the store, a sales associate might offer you a cash discount, usually at a fixed percentage off the retail price, not the advertised sale price.
Promo Code: If a retailer offers a “special” or “sale” on an item but you don’t get the discount with a regular price check-out, sometimes you can ask for a “promo code” and get a discount with no additional charge.
Price Match: Some stores have a policy that you must purchase an item first and then they will “price match” you on a competitor’s item that is at the same price or has less than a certain number of days remaining on its sale.
Give several stores a call and ask if they have the same item in stock as the online price. If so, you’ve saved yourself a trip to the store. If not, ask if they can ship the item to you. Most retailers allow you to return items for free, so shop around for the best return policy before you buy. You can also check for store coupons or online discounts to find out if there are any additional savings you can make.
Don’t Get Take In Marketing Tactics
We’ve all seen the ads where a dad is looking for a new car seat for his newborn baby, and he’s show a giant stack of car seat brochures that all look the same.
In reality, though, the car seat ads are all different, and you can find the one that’s perfect for your needs. The same is true with the prices you see at different stores. If you see identical items at different stores that is price very differently, take notice.
Go Online (If You Have To)
You’re probably read by now that you should always buy tips things online (or in-person), but if you’re unsure about what to look for in an online retailer, head to your nearest mall and check out your favorite stores. Take note of what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, you can use online research to find the best prices and reviews.
Look for Sales and Rebate Programs
Trying to save money on new items? Shopping for extra discounts or cash back on your old ones? Manufacturers and retailers often offer cash rebates or bonus discounts for buying your used items.
These are often call “trade-in” programs, but they work just as well for buying new items. If you’re buying new, try searching for retailers that will give you extra cashback on your purchase, like eBay and Amazon. On your old items, search for stores that have special sales or rebate programs, or join the loyalty program at your favorite store and earn extra discounts.
Use a Price Comparison Website
When you’re comparing prices at different stores, keep track of what you’re spending. That way, when you see a better deal at another store, you can quickly compare prices at other stores and see if you’re missing out on anything. Just make sure you’re comparing prices and not costs. If you’re comparing prices but not costs, you’re only going to waste time and energy, which you could use better shopping for better deals.
If you want to stop being taken advantage of by retailers, you have to shop smarter. By learning how to shop smarter, you’ll be able to find better deals and save money on the items you need.