It’s shopping season. And if you want to come out with your bank account balances above zero, you’ll need to be smart about your spending.
Luckily, we have a specialist to give us some guidance.
Trae Bodge*, a shopping expert who has appeared on the “Today” show, knows the ins and outs of using credit cards wisely, curating smart shopping lists, and finding good deals at big box stores.
Bodge is sharing her advice for shoppers on our podcast “Teach Me How to Money,” including these seven tips for those looking to save some money.
The following are excerpts from Bodge’s recent conversation with Stash editorial director Lindsay Goldwert, edited for clarity.
1. Never settle.
“A smart shopper is someone who refuses to buy something at face value. If you’re shopping, and you see a price, even if it’s on sale, don’t stop there. There are many great tools out there to help you make sure that you’re getting the best price, or [at least] getting an easy discount.”
2. Give up on clipping coupons—use technology to your advantage.
“Thanks to technology, there are so many great tools out there from apps to browser extensions—you can save money in seconds. I don’t think it’s worth the effort to clip all those coupons.”
3. Shop out of season.
“Buying out of season is the best way to save overall.
If you prepare, you will save a lot because right at the end of a season is the best time to buy. If we’re looking at a September, for instance, there are lots of great deals on things like patio furniture, grills, and swimsuits.”
4. Do your research.
“Often, you get what you pay for.
If you’re not familiar with a particular retailer, I would do a little bit of digging. My daughter was shopping, and she said, ‘Oh, my God, the prices are so amazing.’ And she did some research and found several terrible reviews about this retailer. The product sizing was really off, and the quality was terrible.”
5. Learn to love the list.
“I’m a big fan of lists, especially around holidays or birthdays when you’re doing a lot of shopping. Back-to-school is a good time too. Make a list, and try to stick to it instead of veering off and jumping on sales, which can actually cause you to go over budget and get you into trouble.”
6. Save up a holiday fund.
“I do recommend saving throughout the year for holiday [spending]. I’m not a fan of carrying debt into the new year, so I think saving along the way is really helpful.”
7. If you’re buying for credit card rewards, buy smart.
“[If you’re buying things with cash-back cards], make sure that it’s something useful. Make sure that you’re going to be able to apply it to something that you regularly use.
Also, the majority of cashback cards have a very high APR. So, if you’re not intending to pay that card off every month, you’re basically shooting yourself in the foot with all those points that you’re accruing.”
Get more tips for keeping your finances in order by subscribing to Stash’s “Teach Me How to Money” podcast.