We all love to shop - what we don’t love is the bill at the end of it! That’s where these tips on the best ways to save money on your shopping come in.
Whether you’re looking to save online or on the high street, if you go in armed with some smart shopping knowledge you can get some real bargains.
Here's the inside track on how to get some retail therapy without making a serious dent in your wallet:
Make a list
Earn via cashback
Use discount vouchers
Second hand shopping
Shopping for school uniform
Save money on your pram
Shopping for toys
Cheap alternatives to essential baby buys
Beauty and fragrance for less
Affordable maternity wear
1. Loyalty points
If you’re a regular shopper at retailers like Boots, Tesco or Sainsbury’s, you can turn your spending into savings by joining their loyalty card schemes. Build up points whenever you spend and you’ll soon be reaping those rewards. (We've got some tips on how to squeeze the most out of your loyalty card reward scheme).
Don’t forget you can get up to three times the value of your reward vouchers by spending them on things other than your day-to-day grocery shop. For example, you can put the points towards driving lessons, days out, train travel, jewellery or magazine subscriptions.
Exchanges are also great value. Tesco gives Clubcard holders the opportunity to exchange their vouchers (usually double the value) for use within certain theme parks, restaurants and more.
Look out for ways to maximise your points’ potential. There are plenty of temporary promotions, like mega-points weekends (where you can earn double or even triple points) and deals in Boots Health & Beauty Magazine.
As a parent, it’s also worth joining the Boots Parenting Club: you’ll earn ten points (10p) for every £1 spent on baby products - which soon adds up!
2. Make a list
It may sound simple, but making a list can be one of the most powerful money saving weapons of all – even more effective at saving you money than attractive savings accounts, 0% credit cards or even loyalty points.
Before heading out to the shops make sure you have two lists - the shopping list and a spending diary. It’s easy to forget exactly what you need (not just what you want) - and without a trusty list by your side, it's so easy to waste time and money buying something on impulse. If you want to know more about this powerful money-saving shopping weapon look no further.
Haggling can be a fantastic tool in bagging you a bargain. But you have to be brave and know when is best to barter. Anyone can do it though - just follow the tips below:
- Set a budget and stick to it – even if it means walking away empty-handed.
- Act confident – convince the seller you’re aware of the actual value of the item rather than the price it’s marked with. They'll be more likely to give you a discount.
- Don’t expect to buy an item for an extremely low price. Instead, be realistic and think perhaps about a 20% discount.
- Don’t waste time with a seller that has told you firmly and without hesitation that they are not willing to negotiate on a price less than advertised. Simply walk away and find someone who is open to discussion.
For more tips on bargaining down the advertised cost, take a look at this guide on how to get haggling.
4. Online shopping
One of the best ways to save money and make savings is to shop online. However, it’s important to remember not to be taken in by persuasive sales techniques.
For example, many companies now use sophisticated and targeted online advertising, ‘remembering’ what you last bought or viewed, and displaying related products.
Plus, when you’re at home and not handing over actual cash, you are more prone to make impulse purchases (it's very easy to tell yourself you’re not spending ‘real’ money!)
We've got plenty of easy online shopping tips that will help save you money.
5. Earn via cashback
When you shop online and you’ve found a great deal, it’s worth looking to see if you can use a cashback website to save even more money. When you purchase your shopping through a cashback website, that site will then pay you back a small percentage of the money you spend.
Another option is paying for your shopping using a cashback credit card to earn money back.
6. Use discount vouchers
One of the best ways to save money is with deals and discounts. They are easy to find when you know where to look. MyFamilyClub has a great voucher section with all the latest offers from a whole host of top retailers. You can save around 20% at many stores with the right voucher. Some are downloadable forms that you can easily print off, while others will take you straight to those savings online.
Big retailers like Tesco and Debenhams often release discount codes that entitle you to between 5% and 20% off the purchase price – or free delivery. Check MyFamilyClub's voucher section for the latest deals.
7. Sales shopping
When the sales come around you should always be prepared to think ahead. Hunt down end-of-season items like next summer’s swimsuit or next year’s winter coat, when they're cheaper. Also getting machine-washable items rather than dry-clean only will save you time and money. There are other sales tips here.
Snap up clothing for the kids that they’ll grow into by next year - for example school uniform, sports clothes, winter coats, shoes, and trainers.
Be sale smart - it’s not just clothes that could come in handy. If you have the storage, look out for discounted items like Christmas cards, wrapping paper, beach wear or outdoor games that you'll know you'll need when winter or summer next rolls around. If you buy these items out of season you can often pick them up for dirt cheap prices.
8. Smart comparison
Changing your thinking towards shopping can also help save you money. Take this example: You open your eyes and it's pitch black. You turn on a light and it's painfully bright. Yet it isn't really. The light reveals itself to be perfectly normal when your eyes adjust to the contrast.
We suffer this ‘contrast effect’ when shopping too. If two prams are on display side-by-side, one better quality than the other, you're more likely to pick the better one. However, if you'd seen the cheaper one by itself, you'll have noticed it was adequate for your needs.
If the shop is particularly cunning it'll display a third pram of middling quality, but with the highest price tag. Now you’ll more readily believe you've chosen well when you go for the better quality, middle-priced pram.
So to put this into practice, before comparing items you should have a firm idea about what your requirements are. Don't pay for anything more.
9. Second hand shopping
Second hand shopping can save you £££s, especially when buying for the little ones. If you look at buying your clothes from eBay, flea markets, charity shops and car-boot sales, you can often discover some real stylish gems too, even designer kidswear.
The same goes for toys. Even when children get older, you'll still be able to buy a lot of their toys second hand, and you could use whatever influence you have to encourage them to use their pocket money in the same way. It can help teach them to recycle and cut your shopping costs in the process. You can really cut the cost of raising a child by using smart shopping and spending techniques.
10. Shopping for school uniform
School uniform shopping can often fill parents with dread but it needn’t be that way! The best ways to save money on your uniform is to normally dodge the official school shop. If you want to find cheap new school uniform, also try to avoid getting it from the specialist school uniform retailer recommended by your child’s school, if you can.
You’ll often find that much cheaper deals on school uniform are usually available from supermarkets and general clothing retailers. If you're struggling to afford a new uniform, you may be able to apply for help with uniform costs.
11. Save money on your pram
Pram shopping can get expensive and as new parents you simply may not have the budget. Cash can be saved by renting a pram instead. Faced with a tight family budget, you can now rent a pram from just £20 a month at Rentabuggy.co.uk, with a minimum of three months’ rental. Plus, if you chose to keep the pram, you can then buy it at a discount retail price. Here are more tips on how to save money on your pram.
12. Shopping for toys
Toys can be expensive and are often ignored by a bored toddler after a short time. Save money on shopping for toys by swapping with friends instead.
Another great solution is the toy library. Check out toy rental services or ask your local library or children’s centre for the one nearest you.
They usually work by borrowing three toys per child every couple of weeks, for under 50p a toy. There is a wide selection and they are usually well-maintained and clean to take your pick from. Keeping the costs down when shopping for your little one can be a struggle, but for more tips and tricks on how to raise a toddler on a budget check out this article.
13. Cheap alternatives to essential baby buys
Baby buys can quickly add up, but there are cheaper alternatives to consider. For example you could swap those over-priced organic baby bath products for homemade baby wash or even just use water for the first few months.
A gentle wash can be made cheaply with a carrier oil, such as safflower £4.99 for 500ml mixed with a drop or two of suitable essential oils such as lavender, rose or chamomile.
There are more shopping swaps you can make on baby buys to save you money.
14. Beauty and fragrance for less
We all wish we had the chance to treat ourselves to a bit of ‘me-time’ and some pampering once in a while - but we don’t want to deal with the price tag that goes with it! But you can still treat yourself to some lush beauty products and cosmetics without paying full price, by looking online at sites such as FeelUnique.com and LookFantastic.com (or LookMantastic.com, if you’re a man!). You’ll find popular beauty brands like GHD, L’Oreal and Benefit at much lower prices than you’d pay on the high street.
And to grab your favourite fragrance for less, take a look at CheapSmells.com and FragranceDirect.com. There are savings on up to 50% on perfumes and you can also find hair and make-up on there too. Get luxury for less with these additional tips.
15. Affordable maternity wear
Shopping when you’re pregnant can be a real struggle, especially when you’re tired and have morning sickness! Buying online can be the perfect option and you also often find a better price than you would on the high street.
Alongside cheap new clothes, consider looking for second-hand maternity wear. Because they’re only worn for a few months, second hand maternity clothes are normally still in very good condition, so do check out places like eBay. Specialist second-hand maternity sites such as the Maternity Exchange are also well worth a look.
We've got more info on grabbing a maternity wear bargain where you can put these tips into action!