Shopping with an attitude

shoppingLet's face it, frugal shopping can be difficult but it's not because the retailers are out to rob you of your money. Stores of all types operate on one simple premise; It's their job to convert product display space into profit. Store layouts, merchandise displays and product placement are all used in well researched configurations to make the most from limited retail space. As frugal shoppers, it's our individual responsibility to see through the merchandise promotion blitz and to guard our own spending by fending off the impulse purchase of items we never intended to buy when we first entered the store.

The expertise of retailers in moving product is the major cause for my "shopping with an attitude" theory. I realize that stores are providing me a service by offering products for sale, but that doesn't mean that I should be surrendering my wallet to them at the door. My shopping attitude theory is summed up in the following words: "It's my money and I'll decide how much of it you get." It's a simple condition of mental focus which should be taken along with you into every store you enter and it's partially rooted in the following frugal shopping principles:

  • Never enter a store without concrete intent about what you'll be buying. Remember what you're there for. Make a list and stick to it, even if you're only shopping for a few items. Every time you're tempted to grab an item on impulse, tell yourself, "it's not on my list so I'm not buying it.
  • If credit or debit cards make it too easy for you to purchase unintended items, take only the cash you need into the store with you and leave those debt creating plastic cards locked in the trunk of your car. If you find that you've exceeded the amount of cash you took into the store, leave something behind and feel good about it.
  • If you're a shopper who's easily misdirected into extra purchases, try shopping in tandem with someone you know who's a strong defensive shopper. Conversely, if you're a shopper who's easily distracted from analyzing your purchases, consider shopping solo at off peak times. Do whatever it takes to keep your focus on protecting your dollars.
  • When you do find something which qualifies as a true bargain, make sure it meets the following two prime conditions: First, it should be something you would normally buy and second, it must be something you'll use up completely.
  • Use coupons as money saving tools, not as directives on where to shop.
My shopping with an attitude theory is only meant to help condition our buying habits. It's not intended as a rigid set of rules for shopping. Of course there will be times when you forgot to put something on your list or when you run across a totally amazing bargain. Smart shopping always leaves you room to adjust for these occurrences. Just remember that you're going into the store with your hard earned money. It's your right and responsibility to require the store to give you good reason for leaving some of your money there.
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