Millions of consumers are aiming to save as much money as possible when they go shopping, but a lot of the advice circling around isn’t completely accurate. If you’re a budget shopper and hoping to maximize your savings, make sure to avoid these five myths that we’re about to debunk:
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1. Always Buy the Store BrandIt’s true that frequently when there’s a choice between the store brand and its name brand competitors, it’ll be cheaper to buy the store brand. But it’s also pretty common to be in a situation when the name brand is cheaper, such as when it’s on sale. As a frugal shopper, you should always compare prices and do the math for yourself. Don’t assume that the store brand is always the better bargain, because the reality could be otherwise.
2. Stick Exclusively to your Shopping ListA common piece of advice that you’ve probably heard is that you should create a shopping list before you head to the supermarket and purchase only what you’ve written down. While this is a good tactic for remembering to buy everything you need, it’s not always the best strategy for frugal shopping. For example, you may find that there’s an incredible sale of a product that your family uses on a regular basis. Even if that item wasn’t on your shopping list on that particular day, it’s obviously a good idea to stock up on that product.
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3. Frugal Means Avoid Organic ProductsMany frugal shoppers don’t even bother taking a look at organic produce because they feel instinctively that it’s out of their price range. But when you take all of the product’s qualities into account—including its nutritional value and longevity—then you may find it well within your budget. Just because something is organic, it doesn’t mean that it’s too expensive for budget shoppers.
4. Purchasing in Small/Large Quantities is CheaperThere are plenty of people who will tell you that in order to save money on your shopping expenses, it’s imperative to buy everything in bulk. The tricky part is that there are just as many people who insist that the best way to save money is by purchasing products in small quantities so that you don’t end up wasting—so which is it?
The reality is that it depends on your family’s circumstances and habits, so don’t feel pressured to go against your inclination. Ultimately, it will probably depend on the given product, and it’s a total myth that there’s a general rule about the optimal quantity of an item to purchase. If you live alone, there is no need to buy bulk cereal, but bulk paper towels might be worth it. It all depends on what your consumption patterns are.
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Another trick when it comes to quantity of a product, make sure you are doing the math on price per ounce. Often times brands will change the size of the container, but the price will remain the same. This is common with items like peanut butter and ice cream. Be mindful that the "new look" might mean more money for less product. When you're price comparing, the only way to know which brand gives you the most for your money is to weigh out the value by volume (pun intended).
5. Clips Coupons ConstantlyMany consumers do save a great deal of money by clipping coupons and buying products that are on sale, but it’s also possible to lose money with coupons. If you’re only buying a product because there’s a coupon and it’s not something you actually need, then you’re better off not clipping that coupon in the first place.
Coupons are only advantageous if you’re buying a worthwhile product. A lot of coupons are tailored for junk food and pre packaged goods. If your family isn't going to eat 70 packs of Oreo's, then clipping coupons is not in your best interest. Make sure the coupons pertain to food your family is actually going to consume.
The bottom line is, don't buy things you don't need. We have all fallen prey to marketing tactics where we purchases something simply because it was "too good of a deal to pass up!" Be a mindful consumer, and ask yourself if you really need the product that is on sale, and if you'll even use it before it expires. Compare prices and never assume that one brand is cheaper than another. There are no steadfast rules to being a frugal shopper, just make sure you do your homework.