Smart shopping

Smart shopping – simple tips and tricks to save you money


From your weekly food shop to your next big electrical purchase, here are a few smart, simple ways to get the most from your money.

  • See what you’re spending
  • Shop around
  • Watch out for ‘special offers’
  • Always compare prices
  • Use outlet stores
  • Check the reviews
  • Remember your rights
  • Get vouchers and coupons straight to your inbox
  • Get money back when you shop online
  • More ways to save

See what you’re spending

To start saving, it’s a good idea to look at where you’re spending the most. Doing a budget and keeping a spending diary is an excellent way to get started.

Shop around

It could be cheaper to go to a different store if you find you’re spending a lot on your groceries. You can save money on your food shopping with simple ideas like checking what you have, making a list and meal planning.

It’s also smart to avoid smaller supermarket convenience stores as these can be more expensive.

Watch out for ‘special offers’

Special offers can be a great way to save money, but they can sometimes catch you out. Make sure you work out whether a deal is really as good as it looks and if a ‘2-for-1’ or ‘3 for £1’ offer will actually save you money.

For example, your favourite cereal is on a ‘3-for-2’ offer, when each box is normally £1.50. Three boxes will cost you £3 so you’ve saved £1.50, right? Not necessarily. If another supermarket is selling the cereal for 80p a box you’d actually get 3 boxes for £2.40 – a saving of 60p by buying it there and ignoring the offer.

It’s also smart to check the sell-by-date to ensure you really are getting a good deal. If you do find a genuine deal then it might be worth bulk buying if you’re shopping for the whole family.

Always compare prices

If you’re making a big purchase, it’s important to always compare prices. Check the prices in a few different shops on the high street and online to see where you can get the best possible deal.

Buying online will sometimes be the cheapest option but you may not be able to try before you buy. In most cases (see the CAB website for exceptions) you have the right to cancel until seven working days after you receive your goods. If you are buying online, think about postage and packaging as these costs can stack up.

Comparison sites are a great way to save money on your supermarket shopping too. You can compare the price of your weekly shop across many of the big stores and see when your favourites are on offer.

Use outlet stores

Outlet stores can be a great way to bag a bargain. Instead of buying something from a retailer that sells multiple brands, you can try looking for an outlet store which is owned by the brand you’re looking for.

All of the items on sale in an outlet store are manufactured by the same company so everything is usually sold at a discount. The prices are also cheaper because the outlet stock is usually older than what’s being sold in other shops, so they may not have exactly what you’re looking for.

Check the reviews

Always take a few minutes to read customer and expert reviews on the products you’re interested in. You can use price comparison sites to compare the cost of anything from fridges and washing machines, to digital cameras and TVs. These sites also have user reviews which can help you decide what’s right for you.

Impulse buying an expensive item should generally be avoided. In addition, your distance selling rights to cancel within seven days won’t apply if you buy it in store, so if you have any regrets, it might be harder to get a refund.

Remember your rights

When it comes to making a payment and something goes wrong, buying on your credit or debit card gives you greater protection than cash or cheque.

Credit cards offer the most protection – as long as the item or service you bought cost over £100 you can claim against your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to get your money back. Read more about How you’re protected when you pay by card to help you decide whether cash, cheque, debit or credit is your best method of payment.

Credit cards and credit ratings

Get vouchers and coupons straight to your inbox

Did You Know?

Brits spent around £104 billion shopping online in 2014 – that’s almost a quarter of all money spent shopping.

Source: IMRG – online retail industry association

There are many websites dedicated to emailing you daily or weekly with a set of discount vouchers you can use against various products and services. Many of the deals claim to offer between 50% and 90% off the original price, so always check similar items or services first to see if that’s really true.

Some shops and restaurants may also give you vouchers if you sign up to their weekly newsletter or start following them on Facebook or Twitter, so it can pay to keep a closer eye on your favourite brands.

Get money back when you shop online

Paying for items through a cashback site is another great way to save money on your shopping.

Just by clicking through to a site and making a purchase, you’ll receive some money back for your efforts. However, you’ll rarely receive your cashback immediately so be prepared to wait for it and remember to compare prices first – just because you’re getting money back, doesn’t mean you won’t find a better deal elsewhere.

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