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Are You Making These Stupid Shopping Mistakes?

Shopping isn’t always a bad thing. It can help you improve your credit, but many people aren't aware of the best ways to do this. There are a lot of insider tips that can make a big difference to your final bill and help you rack up a lot of points on your card. Unfortunately, many people make these simple shopping mistakes that end up costing a lot.

1 - Not Combining Discounts

Coupons and promotional codes are great ways to save money, and they are often freely available on the Internet. However, not everyone realizes that you can use more than one at a time. Find as many deals as possible and stick them onto your order. If you have a store card, you often get an additional discount. There's no reason to settle for just one coupon or discount code.

2 - Forgetting the Price Match

It is common practice for stores, both online and brick and mortar, to offer price match guarantees. The most basic form of these guarantees means that anyone who can show to the store manager or clerk that an item that the store carries is cheaper in a different store or website will be entitled to a price cut on that item. For example, if a shopper finds paint at Home Depot that costs less at Lowes, the manager of the Home Depot store would have to lower the price of the paint to match Lowes. This is a great way to find discounts. Always shop around, because many retail sellers have some form of price matching.

3 - Not Haggling A Loan

Any transaction that involves financing is a loan. That applies to everything from layaways to mortgages. Trying to negotiate a lower interest rate on these transactions can mean a big savings, because that lower rate makes a big difference in the final cost of the item. It both lowers the periodic payments and lowers the total bill. Don't be ashamed to ask for a better rate- especially if you have good credit, you deserve it. Shopping between different banks for a loan is a good way to secure a better rate. Haggling is useful for loans just as much as the sticker price of an item.

4 - Not Paying Attention to Store Cards

Store credit cards are notorious for having unfavorable terms. They usually have steep interest rates after the introductory promotional period. On top of that, they can put a big interest charge on any items that are not paid off by the end of the promo period. Think very carefully before applying for a store card. They are designed to have short-term benefits up front to draw in shoppers. Don't be taken in by an offer to get a big discount on one transaction. The long-term costs, in terms of interest and fees, might mean that it is safe not to apply for the card. At the least, investigate all of the card agreement and make sure that the fees are not excessive. 

5 - Letting Points Control You

Credit card rewards points can be very appealing. Everyone loves to see those points stack up and imagine how they will spend the rewards. However, in most cases, the financial value of the rewards systems for credit cards are very low. The average person will not be saving that much by getting a card that is paying 1 or 2 percent on purchases. Remember, spending money is not a good way to save money. Points are there to tempt the cardholder to spend more and buy more things: the banks hope that their customers buy too much and wind up paying interest. Just one month with a big interest charge can lose the cardholder more money than they could ever make back with points. 

6 - Not Doing Research

Even if a store doesn't offer price matching, it is always a good move to shop around. The Internet makes it very easy to check for different prices at different outlets. However, it is a good idea to go even further and check out local shops. Sometimes they have better deals than online merchants, especially after taking shipping costs into account. On top of that, it makes sense to keep checking shops even if they had high prices in the past. Prices change often, and specialty shops can often secure deals on rarer items. They might have areas of expertise, where they are better at acquiring some items than others, which affects how likely they are to have a special deal.

7 - Beware of Sale

Sales can trick customers into buying things they never wanted in the first place. A sale should always be a way to get a discount on an item that a shopper already had their eye on. Instead, many people notice sales and decide to buy something they hadn't wanted before just because it is on sale. The shopper is spending money they never intended to spend, but it feels like saving money due to the sale. A sale only saves money when it helps reduce the price of a wanted item, not when it induces a purchase the shopper was never going to make in the first place.
By simply not making these mistakes, you'll save significant amounts of money when shopping.
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Yael Kent's picture

Yael Kent is a personal finance enthusiast with experience writing about credit cards, credit repair, debt, and more. In addition to being an editor at Creditnet, she has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and other financial sites.

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