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When you’re shopping for the family it can feel like a crazy mix between fun and chaos. You want to save money while buying the items that everyone needs.

From grocery shopping to clothes shopping, whatever you’re buying you can do it by being mindful of where and when you’re spending money.

Don’t think that shopping smarter means that your diet has to consist only baked beans on toast and charity shop finds.

Being savvy with your money means that you know what a real bargain looks like and when to splash the cash and when not too.

Here are 7 ways to shop smarter as a family. Regardless of your income, these 7 tips will help you weed out the marketing ploys from the real deals helping you keep more money in your pocket for your family.

Have a budget and stick to it

You can only set yourself a budget if you know your finances inside out.

If you only vaguely know what’s coming in and going out then you need a budget planner stat!

Despite the name, creating a budget doesn’t mean you have to be frugal or only spend the same amount every week. Having a budget means knowing exactly what you’re spending compared to your incomings.

You should also remember to account for annual costs, such as Christmas, birthday presents, car costs, etc.

So how do you budget?

  • Look at the last three months’ shopping bill, your last energy bill, annual bills and anything else you spend your money on. Be honest with yourself. Then divide it by three to come up with your outgoings. The aim is to have your book balancing – so you’re not spending more than you earn. To do that, you need to work out how much you spend on and on what.
  • Once you’ve done that, you need to scan through and decide what your categories will be. This could be petrol, Christmas saving, clothes, food, hobbies, etc.
  • Now you need to decide how much from your wages you can use for each of your categories.

This may sound long-winded but it’s the best way to easily see what money you can budget to shopping. This could be food, clothing or even a treat for the kids.

Spread the cost

We all have times during the year when an essential appliance dies and the emergency fund just doesn’t cover it. Or perhaps coming up to the festive season you fancy a new sofa, television or gaming console as a present?

Spreading the cost over a a period of time could help you get back on your feet or help you purchase that special item that you’ve been after. 

Companies like Smarterbuys Store are a great example of how you can borrow responsibly. With charitable status they focus on providing the vital household items that we all need on flexible payment plans designed to work for you!

When you take an item out on credit with Smarterbuys Store they also set up a savings account in your name and add 25p a week to it for you. That way at the end of your loan you have a small lump sum waiting for you that you completely forgot about!

Shop around

This applies to the real world and online one too.

Know exactly what you’re going to buy and have a quick Google first. Use their shopping tool which brings up the prices of the product and compares them for you.

This is a really quick way to gauge the price of an item.

While out and about keep looking around and if you see it for cheaper then snatch it up!

Haggle via online chat

For many of us, the very idea of haggling is a big no-go but you’ll be surprised at the deals you can get just by asking.

Use the chatbox that most sites have and ask for a discount or even free delivery. What’s the worst that can happen?

Look past the labels

Most of us would buy labeled items if we could but would it shock you know that many lesser priced items are made in the same factory as the expensive brands?

This works well for technology especially.

Are you paying for the name or brand? Does the item work in roughly the same way? What extras do you get with the bigger brand? ie do you get an extended warranty or insurance? Will there be a resale value?

All things to think about before you buy a high label product.

Downgrade first

This works well for clothes and food shopping.

Start by buying the cheapest brand of that item. An example of this is supermarkets’ own-brand baked beans or their own jeans.

Are they ok? Did anyone in the family notice? Is the price difference enough to start saving you some money?

If your family doesn’t like the lower end then go up one. We do a blind taste test when it comes to food. We buy the very bottom value range and don’t say anything. Nine times out of ten the kids don’t even notice the difference.

Cashback sites

When you spend online always look at the cashback sites.

Cashback works because the retailer gives the cashback website a kickback for sending you to the retailer, and the cashback websites share some of this with you.

Every time you buy online you could be getting cash back. Have a look at:

Quidco*

Swagbucks*

TopCashback*

Go to these sites first before you buy anything online and see if you can get money back.

It takes take 30-days and they may have a cashback limit you need to get to but this is a great way to get some money back for the shopping you were going to do anyway.

This is a collaborative post.