3 easy ways to plan your shopping ahead and save money

Instead of buying impulsively, learn to plan your trips ahead to ensure that you save as much money as possible in the long run. Follow these tips to get started.

3 easy ways to plan your shopping ahead and save money

1. Plan ahead and buy off-season

When it's hot, people want to buy window air conditioners and barbecue grills. When it's cold, they want sweaters and winter coats. And businesses charge a lot of money for these items because demand is so high. Instead of shopping with the herd, make your purchases at times when demand is low so that you hold the upper hand.

  • The shopkeepers will be happy to offer you a bargain just so you'll take the merchandise off their shelves.
  • This will require you to look a little farther down the road when planning your purchases, and also know when stores are eager to reduce their inventory.
  • If your air conditioner or grill is on its last legs, buy a replacement during the early fall.
  • New models of big appliances such as stoves tend to arrive in stores in early fall too.
  • Store managers will give you a great deal on last year's model, since they just want it out of the showroom.

2. Watch the economic news

Towards the end of the year, pay special attention to the financial section of your newspaper or stories on the evening news about the economy. The retail industry will never tell you when business is slow — store managers hate for you to have this information. But the media will certainly let you know.

  • If media forecasts are saying that holiday sales will be sluggish, you can bet that stores will start discounting their merchandise during the fall shopping season. Head to the store and take advantage of discounted merchandise.
  • If you learn on the news the day after Christmas that the shopping season indeed turned out to be disappointing for retailers, plan to head to the store and stock up on bargains, since prices will really be slashed.

3. Stock up on gifts

A steady stream of co-workers, acquaintances and distant relatives will always be having birthdays. That's just a fact of life. And when you suddenly remember that a birthday is coming up in a few days, you'll probably buy a knickknack or gewgaw that's too expensive just because it's convenient. That's often a fact of life too — but it doesn't have to be.

  • Instead, always be on the lookout for bargains on items that would make a neat gift when you want to give someone something but it doesn't have to be perfect.
  • Try a candle in a nice candle holder, or a funny gift book from the rack at the front of the bookstore, or a silicone spatula or other newfangled kitchen implement. Tuck these into the back of your closet. When a birthday pops up, pull an item from your stash, wrap it up and pat yourself on the back for your thrifty forethought.

Planning ahead is the best way to save money when you're shopping. Keep this handy guide in mind and you can save save a bundle in no time.

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