You might need new electronics, office supplies and other equipment to work more effectively. But how can you afford it all? When you’re on a tight budget, multiple expenses can put your wallet over the edge. Here are three tips on how you should shop strategically.

1. Dare to compare.

Decide what  is most vital to buy first. Then look around. Comparison shopping can be an arduous task. Though tedious at times, it can save you a great deal of money. While manually searching for better deals, coupons, etc., can work to your wallet’s advantage, downloading a free tool like Priceblink or an app like Shop Savvy can automatically do the heavy lifting for you. They even have price alerts to let you know when the item you are looking for has gone on sale. You can call off a DIY search party on the search engines and let these tools do the work.

2. Get a head start.

You don’t have to sit around and wait for flyers or sales to plot out your smart spending plan. Since discounts on gift cards are harder to find when everyone is shopping for the same seasonal items,  you might be able to get a substantial discount if you purchase them when people aren’t looking for them. For example, if you know certain stores tends to have sales on electronics at a certain time of year, look for cards available at those stores  when fewer people are focused on replacing equipment. Purchasing early will not only get you a deeper discount, you can pace your spending so your wallet won’t get walloped all at once.

3. Don’t shop ’til you drop.
We’ve all heard that you shouldn’t grocery shop while you’re hungry. It can cause you to make impulse purchases. Be sure to eat before you shop no matter where you go. This way you won’t get stuck having to spend a lot of money eating out during your trip. If you do find that you stayed out a little later than you thought and you do need to grab a quick bite, it doesn’t have to be costly.

A coffee shop or a restaurant that doesn’t require you to pay a tip like Panera or Chipotle can keep you from spending too much on lunch or dinner. Remember to skip paying for a beverage and ask for tap water. Even if you plan to eat out inexpensively, it still might be smart to pack snacks. If you’re out shopping all day, you can avoid eating out twice. Consider bringing protein bars or nuts along with you for back up.

The Bottom Line

When you’re planning a purchase to get essentials for your home office, replace electronic equipment or make other purchases and out shopping to find great deals, use the tips above to save money and get the items on your shopping list for less.

 

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Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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