Shopping tips: Simple money-saving hacks for your family

Life is crazy expensive as of late, resulting in many of us trying to cut spending where we can. If you’re looking for shopping tips to help save money for you and your family, you’re in the right place!

Read on for money-saving tips, whether you’re doing online shopping, grocery shopping, or just heading out to your favorite retail store.

Shopping tips: tangerine forward banking card pictured with two slices of orange.
Shopping tips: Simple money-saving hacks for your family

First things first: Find a good banking app

Before we can even chat about how to save money, you’ve got to figure out how to track your spending and set up a budget.

Even if you’re using cash envelopes to track your spending (see the TikTok video later in this post), chances are your bills are mostly automated online. The good news is that there are tons of banking apps to track your spending (I use the TD My Spend App since I’m in Canada), cash-back credit cards, and savings apps like Moka (this is also Canadian).

Check with whichever banking company you are with whether or not they have apps and cash-back rewards programs available. For example, Tangerine bank offers a rewards program with 2% cash back on applicable purchases and has a 15% cash back offer of up to $150 for new users right now.

Click here to read Mary-Jane’s review of Tangerine Bank.

Another thing to consider is having auto-deposits from your debit account so savings. For example, I have mine set to round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and contribute $1 for every debit purchase made into my savings account. This means that if I purchase something for $5.60 from my debit card, $1.40 will be transferred into my checking at the end of the day. You can chat with your bank about possibilities like this with your debit cards!

Someone creating a budget in a notebook with a calculator.
Shopping tips: Simple money-saving hacks for your family

Next: Set up your budget

Setting up a budget is never a bad idea. In fact, it’s crucial if you are trying to save money! By laying out all of your income and bills, you can make a plan to spend and save your money more wisely.

There’s a great video below to show you a step-by-step budgeting process, but here’s what Debt Free Millenials suggest:

  1. List monthly income (or find the average from the last three months if you’re not salaried).
  2. List out all debt with minimum payment amounts, including car, loan, and housing debts.
  3. List fixed expenses like rent, food, utilities, insurance, etc. Again, if these aren’t a set amount you pay monthly, find an average of 3 months.
  4. List “fun” spending, or personal spending like shopping, eating out, subscription services, etc.
  5. Once you’ve listed everything, add it and compare it to your income. This will show you where you’re overspending and show how much is left for future savings.
    • You may see here that you need to find a way to save money on everyday items, on groceries or that you may need to cancel some subscriptions. All of these changes will add up!
  6. Create a “future” savings plan. List out big-ticket items you want to save for, like a car or a down payment on a house.
  7. Create a “fudge” category, used in case you overspend in a category or forget you need to purchase something. They suggest putting $50 into this every month, for example.
  8. Add everything up and check the balance. Ideally, you want your income minus spending to equal $0.
    • They say every dollar should have a spot in the budget. Otherwise, it will likely get spent. So, I’d suggest depositing extra money at the end of the month into the Fudge category or future savings!

With these numbers in mind, you can now choose to either use your apps to manage this savings plan or you can work on a cash envelope spending plan.

Here’s the video (jump to 00:98 to get right into creating the budget)

Now: Shopping tips for saving money

So now you’ve got your budget set up and sorted out how to make the savings plan happen. The next step is determining how to save money on purchasing to maximize spending in every category.

Here are some easy ways to save money on shopping trips, including tips for grocery shopping, shopping in retail stores, and online shopping advice.

A woman holding four shopping bags colord green, brown, red, then brown.
Shopping tips: Simple money-saving hacks for your family

Shopping tips for grocery shopping

This is a painful topic for most of us right now since many stores have sky-high produce prices.

But, here are seven easy ways to save when spending money on food and home supplies.

  1. Make a shopping list and stick to it!
    • I like to have a running list near the fridge of grocery items I’m out of or almost out of. This way, I don’t forget condiments, grains, or bulk items I have to stock up on. Then, add whatever you need for your weekly meals.
    • Avoid buying extras! Stick to what you listed on your shopping list. Even if something looks like a good deal, you’re spending extra than if you didn’t buy it – No matter how big the discount is!
    • Do a little research before shopping, too – Most large grocery stores will price match, so you have to have the flyer on hand to get savings, rather than going to every store for the best deals.
  2. Do not shop hungry
    • Have a snack or meal before your shopping trip to limit impulse buys! It’s easy to spend money you didn’t need to when tempted by the foods around you.
  3. Look for a coupon code and shop no-name brands as much as possible
    • Many sites will give you weekly deals (like the PC Plus App) that you can download to save money. You also sign up for rewards programs like PC Insiders or PC Optimum to maximize coupons.
    • A no-name brand will often have just as much flavor as the “gourmet” brand but at way lower prices. I buy many items from basic brands and only splurge on “gourmet” items occasionally.
  4. Buy and cook in bulk
    • If you have the extra time to cook things from scratch, buy basics like cereals/grains, baking ingredients, and dried goods in bulk for the best prices on items you use frequently.
    • When you cook, make extra meals for lunch the next day or the freezer. Then you have something quick to grab, reducing your chance of buying lunch on the go.
  5. Shop alone (if you can)
    • Having shopping partners with you may seem more enjoyable, but it can result in having unintended things added to your cart. This is especially tough with kiddos who are easily tempted and will likely ask you to buy items you don’t need!
  6. Online shop for groceries when possible
    • I found that I save tons of money when I shop online for groceries because it limits impulse buying, you can see the cost per unit, and you often save a lot of time. PC Express offers both pick-up and delivery options, too, so you can have your groceries delivered right to your door!
  7. Eat vegetarian for a day
    • A vegetarian diet may not be for everyone, but I often find meat is the most expensive thing I’m buying. Try having a meat-free meal at least once a week to save a bit of cash on food.

Shopping tips for retail stores

I find saving money in retail shopping to be easier in person, as I don’t get tempted by all of the virtual ads. I also like that it’s a more personal experience, as you can make a day of it with friends, for example. And, when it comes to clothes shopping, I know I need to try things on!

Another way to spend less on clothes is to buy second-hand when you can. You can often find high-quality items and brand-name clothes for a fraction of the regular price! Consignment stores are my favorite place to look for clothing, as they buy the items from sellers (rather than have them donated), so they’re often a well-known brand and in better condition than that found in stores like Value Village.

I find that it’s a better idea to pay with cash when shopping in stores. This way, I can take out my budgeted amount and stick to it.

Speaking of, have you seen these strict cash budgets Tik Tokers are raving about? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Compare prices online before buying anything in store

Shopping in-store can be a convenient way to get what you need quickly, without waiting for shipping. However, before you head out the door and start browsing the shelves, it’s worth taking the time to compare prices online.

The internet offers access to an enormous variety of retailers, both local and international–allowing you to find the best possible deal on any item. Thanks to sites such as price comparison engines and coupon aggregators, shoppers can now easily view multiple offers at once and stock up on discounts without stepping foot into a store. In addition, many online stores offer loyalty programs that provide extra benefits when shopping from their sites.

Online shopping tips

Online shopping has become super popular, especially for home items and clothes. With so many virtual options to choose from, though, it can be tough to know when you’re getting a good deal.

And, it’s also important to safeguard your personal information when shopping online, especially during the holidays! The University of Manitoba reminds us to only use trusted sellers, secure websites, to keep personal purchases in personal accounts, to use PayPal when possible for more secure purchasing, to keep records, to be wary of phishing schemes, and only to shop on secure WiFi (not public).

It’s that time of year again and many of us are choosing the convenience of purchasing gifts online this holiday season. The holiday season is also the perfect time for cybercriminals to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. That’s why it is important that you take precautions to protect yourself.

Practice Safe Online Shopping, the University of Manitoba

Advantages of shopping online

  • It’s easy to compare prices across many websites
  • There are often free shipping, exclusive deals for signing up, and online sales and discounts
  • Saves a lot of time
  • If gift shopping, you can send the gift directly to the person
  • You can also find sites to sell things online (like Poshmark), so you can be selling items and shopping
A bright red sign in a store window reading "semi-annual sale up to 50% off select styles. "
Shopping tips: Simple money-saving hacks for your family

Finally, know when to shop – Certain items are cheaper at certain times of the year

To get the most out of your shopping money and save yourself the headache of buyer’s remorse, it pays to know when to shop – certain items are cheaper at certain times of the year. For example, home décor items may be reduced after a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas; furniture stores have been known to offer deep discounts on chairs, sofas, and tables in the months following major holidays. There are also massive savings on days like Boxing Day or Black Friday.

Similarly, electronics often carry savings at the start of summer and just before school reopens in the fall. Other seasonal merchandise, such as clothing, are usually marked down when new collections are introduced, so watching for sales twice a year is a smart way to stay ahead of trends without breaking the budget.

Keep an eye out for discounts at other times throughout the year as well – pay attention to store flyers, weekly sales, and search for online coupons to help you score deals on everything from sporting goods to auto parts. By being mindful of when items tend to go on sale, savvy shoppers will reap even greater rewards come check-out time.

FAQs

What are 3 smart shopping tips?

Take advantage of cash-back or automatic savings plans with your bank, create a budget (and stick to it!), and compare prices before purchasing things online or in-store.

What are grocery shopping tips?

1. Make a shopping list and stick to it!
2. Do not shop hungry.
3. Look for a coupon code and shop for no-name brands.
4. Buy and cook in bulk.
5. Shop alone.
6. Online shop for groceries when possible.
7. Eat vegetarian for a day.

Resources

References

Practice Safe Online Shopping, the University of Manitoba

Lifestyle: Parenting, fashion, and shopping

Head over to this category to see all things #momlife, from parenting and Mom fashion advice and inspo to shopping tips that will help save your family money.

Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.

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