Think before you buy anything
THERE'S stuff you need. Then there's stuff you want.
And then there's stuff you didn't even know you wanted, but you're out killing time at the mall with your friends, and now you're surrounded by cool-looking stuff and you're in grave danger of blowing your monthly budget on something you could probably live without.
Put your credit card back in its holster, folks. Your help is here:
Make a Shopping List: Before you run your errands, make a list of everything you plan on buying. The rule is: you're not allowed to buy anything unless it's already on your list. It'll help keep your impulse shopping to a minimum.
Only Bring the Cash You Need: You can't spend money you don't have. Before you go out, put a small amount of cash in your wallet to cover all the buying you plan on doing. If the cash runs out, your shopping spree's done for the day.
Shop comparatively: Don't be a sucker when you see a price tag. For instance, if you want a new PlayStation game, don't buy it right away. Call around to the video game shops and wholesale retailers to see who has the cheapest price, and check online, among other places.
When it Comes to Clothes, Just Buy the Basics: You'll get way more mileage out of a plain black sweater - even if it costs more - than a 1980s-style hot pink one. Before you buy something, ask yourself how often you'll actually wear it. Chances are, you're better off with a smaller number of basic pieces that you can make unique every day with layering and accessories.
Try Not to Shop Bored. The silliest purchases happen when you probably shouldn't have been shopping in the first place. If you and your friends are bored and looking for something to do, don't automatically run to the mall.
When in Doubt, Leave the Store: On the fence about whether or not to buy something? Put it down and leave the store. If you decide later that you really, really want it, then you can go back and buy it tomorrow. But chances are, you'll be happy you saved your money.
Pick Your Shopping Friends Wisely: Not all shopping buddies are created equal. Some of them are shopaholics themselves and love it when you spend money because it makes them feel better about their own purchases. Instead of hitting the mall with those friends, call up some friends who'll give you their honest opinions and won't pressure you into buying anything.
Before You Buy It, Make It: You can save a lot of money by staying out of the shops and doing things yourself. Want some jean shorts? Turn a pair of old jeans into cutoffs. Mom's birthday's coming up? Make her something instead of buying it.
Don't be Seduced by Sales: Novice shoppers will sometimes buy something they don't need just because it's super-cheap. Cheap or not, there's no use spending money on something you'll never use.
Shop Out of Season: Bathing suits are cheaper in the winter and coats are cheaper in the summer. Plan your big shopping trips a couple of months in advance to find some great deals.
Don't Be Afraid to Haggle: If you think you're getting a bad deal on something - because you've seen it cheaper elsewhere, or because the merchandise is flawed in some way - talk to the salesperson. It might make you nervous, but if it could save you some cash, what's the harm?
Here are some tips on how to be a great haggler:
See if Your Parents, or Friends, Will Split It: If there's a big-ticket item you've been saving up for - like a smart phone, or a pair of boots - your parents, or pals, might be willing to split the cost with you "50/50", if you make a good case for it.
Go Thrifting: Buying used is better and cheaper than buying new. Before you head anywhere else, check out your local thrift stores, vintage shops, used bookstores and CD exchanges. You can also thrift on sites like eBay and Etsy.
- Teen Advice