Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and make a purchase I may receive a small amount of money at no additional cost to you.
Never knowingly overpaying for something is my goal! AND as your favourite eco-friendly personal finance blogger it is my goal to help you too. There are times when you get caught out and have to make a purchase of convenience. It is normally on these occasions where you end up overpaying. Some forward planning though and you can all but eliminate these situations AND save money.
Before you make a purchase, ANY purchase. There are several things I want you to do. Some of them might only give you a couple of pence back in your pocket but once those pence have been added up you could be a fair bit up. Overpaying is wasteful and avoidable. Make sure you take the steps below to avoid it.
1. Do you really need it?
OK! This one isn’t a way that you can get stuff for less, but it is an excellent strategy for saving money. When you decide you are going to buy something I urge you to think very carefully about what is motivating you to make that purchase.
Just last week I was poised and ready to buy new toys for the kids. I’d even completed many of the steps below and was itching to buy it. However, I took some time to review what was driving me to buy it and decided that I felt that all my hard work over the last few months made me deserving of buying this toy. Once I resolved this in my head I demoted said item from a need to want to “just more clutter.” Look out for my upcoming post on how emotions and money aren’t always a good mix.
2. Do you have any vouchers?
Christmas just gone I ended up with a few gift vouchers. I didn’t really know what to do with them at the time so I just shoved them in my purse. A few weeks later I needed some new bathroom towels and suddenly that John Lewis voucher had a purpose. Before I knew it I had a complete set of towels and they hadn’t cost me anything.
I find that I get vouchers for all sorts of things. I got a voucher for signing up to Sky and an Amazon voucher for switching to online billing with my insurance company. Normally I find I don’t need them straight away but when I come to make my next purchase I can check what I have available and make my shopping choices accordingly.
3. Can you get any vouchers?
Occasionally you can pick up vouchers at less than face value. I’ve seen these sorts of offers in Tesco and Currys to name a few. Looking out for promos like this throughout the year could save you a lot of money.
What this means though is that you can buy a cheap gift voucher and use these for your shopping. Ultimately the things you are buying will cost you less. Some of the vouchers have huge discounts so you can make a real saving. It is definitely worth considering if you are making a significant purchase because even 1-2% off could mean a fair bit of money.
4. Is that the best price?
When I buy stuff I always have a look online to see what the best price is. Being loyal to one company is great but you normally pay a price for that. There are some purchases where you don’t need to worry too much about who is supplying it. For these purchases it literally pays to shop around.
The first thing I do is a simple Google search. The Google shopping results will show up the item you are looking for at good prices. My next step is to find the company supplying that item at the cheapest price. However, it is important not to stop there.
Before I buy the item I also do a Google search for reviews for that company. Have a read and see what people say. If they are getting 4/5 stars and generally people are saying they are great, then go ahead and buy it. If the reviews are a bit iffy then it is probably worth paying a bit more to ensure that you actually get the product. Research is key!
5. How about discount codes?
Once you’ve found a good price, it is now time to see if you can get it for even less. Vouchercodes.co.uk is a get place to look. You might find that you can get a few percent off the price by signing up to their newsletter or sharing their website on Facebook. Things like this are simple and probably worth doing.
Things that are not worth doing are things like store cards. Don’t get in debt just to save a few quid. There are other ways.
Another lesser-known way to get a discount is to see if that shop has a Facebook group. Some shops have a special Facebook group for their shoppers and offer a discount code for the members. Again a quick Facebook search might get you 10+% off.
6. How are you going to pay?
Think about how you can save money through your choice of payment. If you are using gift vouchers as above then great. If you are not then your choice of payment could make the item more or less expensive.
What do I mean? Well if you are buying the item on a credit card that you DO NOT pay off each month then you will be paying interest on that item. Or if buying that item takes you deeper into your overdraft then you will be paying interest on that item. Most people don’t factor this in but it will make that shopping trip more expensive.
Paying cash will mean that you buy the item at face value. But if you are clever you can use your payment method to save you even more money.
Mr Pennies and I have an American Express credit card that pays us cashback on the majority of our purchases. We pay this off in full every month so never pay any interest. And we get to pocket our cashback once a year. This means that we save approximately 1% on the cost of any item we buy using that card. Every year we have had that card we have received about £200 back. Not to be sniffed at eh? I’ll write in more detail about this later so be on the lookout.
7. Do you have a loyalty card?
Loyalty cards are another fantastic way to save money. My favourites are my Tesco Clubcard and my Nandos card. But I would say sign up for them all. Even if it takes you years to accumulate the rewards you still eventually get free stuff. I love free stuff.
Whilst doing your shopping it is worth thinking about whether you have any rewards to claim. If you do, use that to influence your choice of shopping location and evaluate whether using those rewards makes that shop the best place to buy.
Or you can claim your loyalty points on this purchase and put them towards a future one. We really like Nandos so we seem to get free chicken a lot. Does this sometimes mean that I will go there rather than somewhere else? Yeah, it does! But I am always weighing up where I can get the best deal. Sometimes it is Nandos. Sometimes it is GBK.
8. Can you get some money back?
I’ve talked before about how to use cashback sites to get money back on your purchases. Quidco is my favourite and you can find my guide to getting started on Quidco below. Quidco works best for online shopping but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bit of window shopping first.
There have been several occasions when I’ve been in a shop and thought “I wonder if I can get cashback on this?” Checked Quidco, seen that I can and bought it online instead. Again you might be able to get a few percent back but you will need to go through Quidco first to get to the website. AND your cashback may be declined if you have used other discount codes, such as those mentioned in point 5.
If you follow this link, you’ll get an extra £10 cashback on your first purchase. Win!
9. What about the receipt?
If you’ve bought something in a shop then save the receipt and get the app: Receipt Hog. It is a simple idea in that you upload a picture of your receipt and they give you coins. Get to a certain number of coins and you can turn them into Amazon vouchers or PayPal.
This one is a bit of a slow burner but I just scan my receipts in as soon as I get them. It takes a few seconds and then I can forget about it. One day soon I’ll be able to trade all those coins for some cash.
10. The bonus tip!
If you are buying something to replace an old one, have you thought about flogging the one you don’t need any more? Yes, you might think that it is not saleable but people will buy anything. Stick it on Gumtree or Facebook market place and see if someone is interested. You may end up with a few quid back in your pocket as a result.
Same stuff just for less
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to do all of these steps for every purchase. But a couple of them each time could save you a fair amount of money. If you think about how much you spend a year and then take 1% off of that. It would probably be a nice amount of money. What about 2%? Or 5%? Taking these steps will help you pursue that frugal lifestyle and means that the money you save can be used for more important things.
What is the best deal you’ve ever got? And how did you get it?
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.