How to save money when you shop


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You don’t have to max out your credit cards or sacrifice your financial future to buy what you want and need. You can save some serious cash with a little planning. Here are my tried and true tips and tricks to save money while you shop.

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1. Don’t buy what you can’t afford

It’s no secret that our eyes are bigger than our wallets, and buying everything we want can lead to deep financial trouble. If you don’t have the cash for something, charging it can be appealing in the moment (especially since many retailers are all-too-willing to offer you a credit card at the register), but carrying a balance from month to month will ultimately cost you. Simply put: if you can’t pay something off in full each month and you don’t really need it, don’t buy it.


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2. Good, old-fashioned research

This one is easy to gloss over, but knowledge is power. Unless you’re just shopping for the fun of it, you probably have a general idea of what you want to buy, but did you remember to comparison shop? Fortunately, it’s never been easier to do so. You can knock out a lot of due diligence without leaving your home, but you can also research on the go with Google. By simply entering the name of an item, you can quickly find out where the item is sold and for how much. And use sites like Slickdeals to learn about the best deals out there. When you’re in-store, use money-saving apps, like ShopSavvy, to research pricing by scanning barcodes with your smartphone.

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3. Wait for sales

We all know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the end of the year is far from the only time retailers have major sales. Many retailers have sales around holidays and three-day weekends, including Presidents Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. There are other times of the year where there are lots of sales, like in July, with Amazon’s yearly Prime Day sale as well as “Black Friday in July” sales from a number of retailers. It’s also worth noting that big cultural events and gift-giving holidays can generate sales, too. For example, several retailers offer deals on TVs ahead of the Super Bowl, jewelry often goes on sale before Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day and it’s easy to get a good deal on home-improvement products before Father’s Day.

There’s a lot to know, but I do the research so you don’t have to! So be sure to visit my homepage if you’re ever wondering what’s on sale. You’ll always find a blog post and a few TV segments on that topic.

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4. Don’t be shy

When you’re shopping in-store, sometimes store associates know more than you do. An associate might know of current sales and what’s going to be marked down in the near future. It never hurts to ask!

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5. There’s no season like the off season

You know the best time to buy Halloween candy is right after Halloween, right? Retailers generally operate on the same principle when it comes to seasonal goods and clothing. If you want to snag a sweet deal on a new coat, wait until February. It might still be cold outside, but that’s typically when stores start stocking up on spring clothes and need to make space. The same goes for spring apparel in May, and summer clothes in August. Temperatures don’t just have an impact on clothes. September can be one of the best times to get a great deal on a grill or other big-ticket outdoor items that get heavy rotation during the summer. At that time of year, retailers are anxious to clear space for the next season, so items will be priced to move.

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6. Outlet malls can be a discount paradise

You probably know that outlet stores offer great deals on big-name brands, but on top of already low prices, outlets often have sales. Sometimes you can even use the same coupons that are accepted at their regular retail stores. Cheaper prices aren’t a given, though: Always hop online and double check the price of each item you’re considering – it could be cheaper elsewhere. Also, keep your wits about you and don’t buy without a thorough inspection. It’s not uncommon for goods at outlet stores to have slight damages. Items with irregularities are usually marked as such and priced accordingly, but it never hurts to take a careful look.

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7. There’s nothing like a good coupon

Coupons are a great way to save a little money and you can find them in a variety of places including on receipts, in the mail, in newspapers and by using browser extensions online. Plenty of retailers will also send you coupons and alert you of sales if you join their loyalty programs or download their apps. Keep in mind that many stores also honor manufacturers’ coupons, allow coupon stacking, and some of them will even offer to match a competitor’s coupon on the same item — it never hurts to ask. And I’ll be diving more deeply into what specific stores allow in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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8. Don’t shun the clearance displays

Just because something’s on clearance doesn’t mean it’s of lesser quality. Retailers often just need to make space for new inventory! Check clearance racks when you’re shopping for clothes, but keep your eyes peeled for other budget-friendly displays, too. For example, it’s easy to walk right by the Bullseye’s Playground Dollar Spot at Target, but you can find tons of inexpensive goodies there.

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9. It’s ok to put things back

Before you check out, think: Do you really need everything you put in your cart? Have you grabbed a few impulse items, like hand sanitizers or snacks, while you waited in line? Saving money means waiting for sales, using coupons and comparing prices, but sometimes, saving money flat out means not buying something. Can you afford it? Could you use that money for something you really need? Asking yourself these simple questions can serve as a helpful check before you blow your budget.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and Flexjobs. She is a contributor at Millie Magazine and CNN Underscored, and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Newsweek, Woman's Day, Forbes,, Kiplinger, Marketwatch,, Yahoo Finance and numerous others. She has also appeared on TV hundreds of times; including Good Morning America's GMA3: What You Need to Know, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Inside Edition, CNBC and local network affiliates nationwide.