Whether you love to shop or find the whole thing a drag, you’ve likely developed some bad habits that are costing you money and time. Sometimes shopping itself can be a bad habit, especially during the holidays when events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday encourage impulse buying.
While changing your buying behavior takes more than a tip sheet, there are some problems that can be fixed without your ever missing them. Consider taking the “never-again” pledge and see how much you can save by ditching the following seven shopping habits.
1. Don’t Double Up With BOGOs
Buy-one-get-one-free offers require you buy two of a product, so ask yourself a few questions before going for the second item. Do you have enough storage space? How long before you’ll actually use the product? What if you don’t like the first half of the deal; will you just trash the second?
2. Resist Checkout Impulse Buys
Put on your blinders while waiting in supermarket lines. Merchants place tempting items directly in your line of sight — like tabloid newspapers — so you’ll grab and stash them in your cart. Check out “9 Ways Supermarkets Suck You In” for more sneaky strategies to avoid.
3. Nix Extended Warranties
Clerks selling electronics, appliances and other big-ticket items are often trained to push extended warranties. These upsells cost far more than they’re worth, since most of these products already come with manufacturer warranties for at least the first year. Extended warranties also can be difficult to cash in on, should the product break down.
4. Avoid Gift Wrap Services
Gift wrapping and gift boxes, particularly those purchased online, usually cost far more than they’re worth. Pick up your own supplies at the dollar store and get out the tape. Better yet, recycle gift bags you’ve received in the past, or consult Martha Stewart’s “Gift-wrapping Ideas” to re-purpose common household items for a truly unique approach.
5. Forgo Store Credit Cards
Merchants offer savings when you sign up for their credit cards, but you’ll ultimately pay through the nose via interest rates and potential late fees. For some reason, just applying for these cards also dings your credit rating. Just say no and, instead, buy cheap gift cards from websites like GiftCardGranny for your preferred merchants. You can save anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent and still buy the merchandise you want at the card’s face value.
6. Don’t Drink and Shop
There’s usually a healthy mark-up on drinks sold in store coolers. If you’re the type that needs a bottle of soda or water to make it through a dreary shopping trip, plan ahead and bring your own from home.
7. Prevent Gift Card Waste
According to an article on Kiplinger.com, American households have an average of $300 in unused gift cards collecting dust in their wallets, purses and sock drawers. Holding onto gift cards is a costly habit, one which can be remedied by exchanging them for cash on Gift Card Exchange Day. Scheduled for Dec. 26, this one-day online event serves as both a reminder and a resource to trade gift cards for greenbacks, with resellers competing for your unwanted bounty.
8. Dodge Daily Deals
Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial make saving look easy, and as a result make spending even easier. Thanks to overzealous deal purchasing, there’s now an entire industry made up of merchants who buy your unused daily deals for resale. If you habitually purchase daily deals and rarely use them, consider going cold turkey for a while.
As a consumer and money-saving expert, Andrea Woroch dissects retail trends and provides smart shopping and money-management tips to help Americans save more. She has worked with top news outlets across the country including NBC’s Today, Good Morning America, New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger Personal Finance. For better buying tips and personal finance advice, follow Andrea on Facebook and Twitter or check out her website atwww.AndreaWoroch.com.
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