How to be a smarter shopper

Money Advice Service

Why pay full price when you can shop for less? Canny shoppers can karate chop their costs armed with discount codes, vouchers, cashback and loyalty cards.

Be a clued-up customer. Grab the savings – but don’t get tempted to buy something you don’t need, just because it’s on offer.

Big tip

Outsmart the lure of loyalty cards! Don’t shop in a more expensive supermarket simply for the points, but do pick up points if you are shopping there anyway.

What should you do with your extra money? Now that you’ve saved a few quid, we’ve a few ideas that will get you saving. Try them out here.

How long it’ll take: Less than a minute

Equipment needed:

  • Internet access, so you have access to the deals and tools
  • Loyalty cards, so you can maximise discounts
  • Printer and scissors, to cut out vouchers and coupons

    1. Check who’s cheapest

    Get clever with your computer before plunging into a big purchase. Use price comparison websites to search online retailers for the best deal.

    You can also compare the cost of groceries from sausages to soup with the supermarket price comparison website MySupermarket.com.

    2. Swoop in on discount codes

    Shopping over the internet? Search for voucher codes or discount codes to cut the costs, like money off or free P&P. When checking out, bung in the code in a box labelled “coupon code”, “voucher code” or the like, and apply the discount.

    A quick way to bag a bargain is to put in Google the shop you’re thinking of buying from and then the words ‘voucher code’ to see what coupons come up.

    3. Track the price of what you want to buy

    Camelcamelcamel is a price-tracker website where you can plug in the deal you have seen on Amazon, and see if that is the best price you can get.

    To check a price, paste in either the Amazon URL into the search bar, or add in some keywords for the item you want to check.

    A really neat trick is if you have your eye on an item, you can track how much it has cost in the past, so you can see if now is the best time to buy it, or if you should wait.

    You then decide on how much you’d be willing to pay, stick that value in the tool and set it up so you get an email when it drops to that price.

    Use loyalty cards, but don’t be loyal – Loads of retailers are keen to keep you coming back, even if it’s only the café on the corner offering your 6th coffee free.

    The three biggest schemes are Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar and the Boots’ Advantage Card.

    Sure, you can swap loyalty points for your shopping. But wait for double up or boost promotions, and points can be worth up to four times the value of the item in the store that has the loyalty scheme, which lots of people use to pay for Christmas food and presents.

    Often members also get given discount vouchers for specific products, chances to earn extra points or money off a minimum spend like £4 off £40.

    When shopping online, keep an eagle eye out for delivery charges – Sometimes that super cheap offer isn’t quite so great once you’ve paid postage. Compare deals including delivery, and look out for free P&P. Need to buy over a certain amount for free delivery? Sometimes adding a little extra to your basket can cost less than paying the delivery charge.

    Love a particular brand or shop? Check out its website, Facebook page or Twitter feed before a big purchase, in case there’s a discount code or offer available.

    New customers often get offered money off their first order, or a discount when signing up for a newsletter. Once you’re on the mailing list, you’ll get sent details of discounts, deals and sales.

    That said, if you don’t want to keep getting marketing emails from the brand, make sure to unsubscribe once you’ve got your deal.

    Get out the vouchers! Showing up at the till with a fistful of vouchers can be a winning way to cheaper shopping.

    Chop out paper vouchers from the likes of newspapers and supermarket magazines and keep an eye on the post for vouchers sent out by loyalty schemes. Sign up for mailing lists for your fave products and shops, and get money-off vouchers emailed to your inbox. Scan the web for voucher sites with printable vouchers, such as Supersavvyme.

    Then make sure you check the small print, match up vouchers with the right products and sneak in before the expiry dates. Savvy shoppers double the discount by using multiple vouchers at the same time, like using coupons for ketchup while qualifying for £5 off a £40 spend.

    Got a big purchase in mind? Consider waiting for the sales to bag a bargain – Sure, if your washing machine gives up the ghost you might need a new one yesterday. But if you’re able to hang on, you could get much more for less.

    Try to plan ahead when you do see sale shelves and reduced racks. Think about presents and purchases you’ll need to make, and stock up when you see savings. Christmas cards and crackers are always cheapest in the January sales!

    This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

    Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

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