Image by Sean MacEntee
Who wants to sit and stare at their computer screen when it's so nice out? And real-life shopping can be a lot of fun, you can try things on, hang out with friends or stop for a bite to eat. You can enjoy the warm outdoors and the air-conditioned indoors, and hopefully make some nice purchases.
But wait, what about saving money? What about loan repayments, council tax bills, budgeting? Well, with the following money saving tips, you can curb your spending and still enjoy your day out.
Use Your Concession
Many shops or online retailers will give discounts to students, armed forces personnel, or health service workers (including hospital volunteers). If you fall into one of these categories, check if there is a concession on offer and make sure you're getting it.
Spend Your Gift Cards
Gift cards are not as useful as cash. They can get lost or go missing if left around, and some well expire if they aren't used. Also, if the retailer goes bust, as several big name retailers have recently, the card becomes worthless. Spend them as soon as you get a chance.
If you are shopping for large items like refrigerators, washing machines or other electronic or white goods, there is often an option to get an extended warranty. Sometimes this is called a care plan, breakdown cover or product protection policy. If you are buying a good quality item there should be no need for this extra insurance. You will usually receive purchase protection if you pay by credit card, and the item can be added to your home or contents cover. If you still want additional protection against breakdowns and repair costs, look into a stand-alone insurance policy that meets your needs, as this is probably still cheaper than the costly extra warranty.
Have you tried Haggling?
An advantage on local stores over online is that in person you have the ability to negotiate over price, especially if you are making a large purchase, have a lot of items, or you have seen the same item cheaper elsewhere, you might be able to talk the store clerk into a discount. If they are not authorised, ask if the manager can help. For more information, see our haggling guide.
Buy Off Season
Buy your sunglasses and sun cream in the winter, and your woolly hats and scarves in the summer. Seasonal items are marked up at times when people buy them more, so take advantage of tiny off-season prices.
Price Beater Policies
Some stores have a policy that if you find a lower price they'll beat it. Take that challenge. Compare prices on shopping comparison engines and retail auction sites and see if you can find a better deal. Even if the store doesn't advertise a policy, they might be willing to give you a deal if you show them where you can get the same product for cheaper.
After your shopping day is over, log in to your free money manager account with Money Dashboard and make sure your card transactions are tagged correctly. That way you'll be able to see exactly what portion of your income is going towards your day's shop. If you overspent, then remember to stick to your budget next time, or consider making some returns...
Returns: Your Rights
If you buy in store and you change your mind, you do not have the right to return the item for a refund. Refunds must be offered for faulty goods or items that are not as they were described when sold, but they are under no obligation to return items that function as described. However, most stores will at least offer store credit for returns within 28 days with the original receipt.