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Stop Making These 5 Common Shopping Mistakes Right Now — and Save Money

Save that hard-earned cash with clever tricks.

Is over-paying after forgetting coupons or impulse-buying pricey items busting your shopping budget? These tips will help you curb that spending in the future. Learn about common shopping mistakes — like not having a rewards card, making quick purchases without research, and forgetting coupons — and their solutions, according to experts. Once you use these tricks, you’ll save time and money, becoming a savvier shopper than ever before.

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“Splurge on an item in a store you don’t frequent? If you’re a loyalty or rewards card holder, you’ll likely pay much less for it! These store programs are usually free to join and come with all sorts of perks that save you cash, even if you rarely shop there. For example, Anthropologie’s Anthro Rewards Program gives members 10 percent off purchases during their birthday month, and Big Lots offers 20 percent-off coupons to loyalty card holders.”

—Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy

In a rush? Pause and visit this site.

“Searching for the best price on a coveted item — say, a high-end shampoo — can be a time-sapping chore, leaving you to just buy the first option you find. But tools like Google Shopping (shopping., can search for you in seconds! Simply input the item you want, and you’ll find multiple vendors selling it. You can sort by price or click on ‘Available nearby’ to find the best price near you. Plus, it will inform you of any deals, such as a store offering a $5 gift card when buying 3 bottles of that shampoo.”

—Brendan Hasse, money-saving expert at

Forget coupons? Snap a pic.

“It’s happened to us all: You’re standing at the register only to realize your coupons are still sitting on your kitchen counter. A simple way to sidestep this snag: As soon as you receive any coupons worthy of use, snap a pic with your smartphone. Many major retail cashiers, including Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond, will still accept them since they typically just need to see the coupon code to enter the discount. Also great to know: Many stores, such as Petco, Bath & Body Works, and Victoria’s Secret, let you come back with a coupon and your receipt to apply the discount post purchase.”

—Joanie Demer of

Find a lower price after buying? Get an adjustment.

“It’s so frustrating when you purchase an expensive item for a price you think is reasonable, but then see it listed the next day at the same store or elsewhere for a lower price. All may not be lost! I’ve learned that many retailers, including Best Buy, Costco, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and more will refund at least part of the difference, and many will even honor a sale price from another store — you just need to call and ask what their policy is. And be sure to have your receipt and the listing for the new price on hand. What can also work? Simply returning the item to the store, then repurchasing it at the new price!”

—Rosie Wolf Williams, money-saving expert at

Buy on impulse? Try the ‘basket trick’.

“A recent survey found that the average American spends $314 a month on impulse purchases on everything from candy bars to shoes! What stops me? Placing a shopping basket in my larger cart. As I walk through a store, I place every item not on my list in the basket — it helps me see just how much I’m spending on non-necessities and allows me to decide what I really want or need before checking out.”

—Annette Economides, co-founder of

First For Women aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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