How to shop around

Whether looking for a bargain in your local shopping center or online, it’s important to know how to shop around before spending hard earned money.

Other than brand specific or bespoke items, most products are available to buy at a range of stores and doing your homework first won’t mean coming home with an empty wallet through spending more than needed.

Whether using the internet to buy the item or going to the shop to make the purchase, there are a number of price comparison websites  which do all the hard work and will give you a list of where you can buy the items, whether they are available online or in store and in some cases how much stock is available. If you find a fantastic deal which is just about to expire and have an urgent needs for temporary funds, talking to your bank or payday loans companies such as Wonga could be the solution. It’s important to remember though that this would be for an emergency and not for the buying of a luxury gift!

Once you have the lowest price, it is then about finding out if there are more savings to be made with either money off vouchers or through cashback schemes. Vouchers are available either through the traditional cutting out from a newspaper or magazine, or through websites which are dedicated to gathering information and sharing it amongst users. Websites list online voucher codes and expiry dates so if the decision is to buy the item online, you’ll be able to see if the code will still work when you use it. Cashback websites gather offers from participating businesses and by clicking through to the site, you will be awarded the cashback or the discount. Whilst this isn’t an instant money off saving – the discount is credited to an account you hold with the cashback site – it’s a great way to build a nest of savings which are then sent to your bank account at a later date.

Other than direct discounts, there are other ways to save money when shopping. Haggling in-store is a technique which whilst not always successful, can often result in a percentage reduction in price. Some stores are open to haggling more readily than others with Homebase, PC World and B&Q being voted the top stores to look for a discount with, but it’s worth trying anywhere. The way to approach haggling is with confidence and a friendly manner, be firm but not over-assertive and know when to walk away if they won’t move on the price and it’s over your budget.

Every January, the news is full of images of people queuing overnight to get the best bargains in the post-Christmas sales. However, other than a few carefully placed knock down items designed to lure in shoppers with money to spend they have been given as a gift, the sales are not always the best time to get a bargain.

Studies have shown that a Tuesday is the best day of the week to find bargains online and November is the time of the year that store retailers will cut prices to encourage shoppers before Christmas, rather than January.

Shopping around can take a little time, but it is worth it. Saving money is important and knowing that you’ve not overpaid for that little black dress, or the must-have gadget for your 11-year old gives a real sense of satisfaction. Shop until you drop, but do it knowing you’re paying less than others.