Comparison Shopping: How to Find the Best Deals
As a consumer, you have choices on where to buy the things and services you need, from cars to home goods and everything in between. If you’re trying to save money, you might try comparing prices from more than one store or vendor. Finding the lowest price can help you save money, leaving you with extra cash to invest and pay down debt or work towards other financial goals. Comparison shopping is easier than ever with online tools and shopping. Use this guide to find the best deals online or in-store.
Use the Right Tools
When it comes to shopping around for the best deal, you might start with a simple Google search. The “Shopping” tab can help you find thousands of products for sale from dozens of different vendors. Use the price tool to sort items by price. Keep in mind, shipping or delivery may cost extra.
You can also use special comparison-shopping sites and apps designed to help you save money on the products you use every day. Honey is a downloadable extension for web browsers that automatically checks for the lowest price across different vendors. It can also apply available coupon and discount codes at checkout to save even more.
Use websites like Slickdeals to take advantage of sales and temporary discounts. You can also use tools like CamelCamelCamel to track prices over time. These tools will even send you email alerts when an item drops in price.
If you’re about to buy something online, search the name of the product or vendor on Google followed by the word “coupon.” You might find coupon codes that you can enter at checkout. Make sure the terms and conditions apply to the purchase.
Avoid Sacrificing Quality
There’s always a cheaper alternative out there, but some of these options might actually cost you more in the long run. It can be advantageous to invest in a durable, long-lasting product rather than buying a disposable item that will break or deteriorate after a few uses. Replacing items more frequently may be more expensive than buying a quality item upfront.
When shopping around for the best deal, be sure to read reviews and customer testimonials of the item. Try to find out how long the product lasted and whether it worked as intended. Read reviews about the vendor or company as well to see if they have a history of making quality products that serve their customers well.
Review the Unit Price
Finding the lowest price at the grocery store isn’t always easy. With so many brands and packages to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Many packages and boxes may look bigger on the shelf, but they are filled with air and contain less product. Looking at the price may not be enough to inform your decision. It’s best practice to look at the price per ounce, price per unit or cost per ounce. This shows you how much you’re paying per item or ounce. Compare these figures from one brand to the next to find the best deal.
Buy in Bulk (If It Makes Sense)
Buying in bulk can be a great way to save money on everyday items like toilet paper, popular food items and cleaning products that have a longer shelf life. Bulk items usually come with a lower cost per unit or cost per ounce. However, for food items that expire more quickly, such as meat, produce and dairy, consider how you will use the entire package before you buy in bulk. Something else to consider is your storage space. If you don't have extra storage, you may want to limit your bulk purchases.
Generic brands typically cost less than name brands. Generic items can be just as good as the name-brand alternative, especially when it comes to dry goods, such as rice, flour, salt and sugar, and paper goods, such as paper towels. For food items, you may want to check the list of ingredients on the package to see how it compares to the name-brand alternative. In some cases, retailers may even repackage the same products with a new brand just so they can charge a higher price.
Comparison Shopping for Your Financial Goals
Comparison shopping can help you save money on your purchases and free up room in your budget. To make the most of the money you freed up, consider using it towards your financial goals. For example, you could set up a savings account to establish an emergency fund, start investing for retirement or pay down high interest debt. Try to avoid using the extra cash for non-essential purchases. Make a habit of comparing prices and use tools like the ones presented in this article to help you save more when you shop.