Comparison shopping can be considered an art form. It involves skill, effort and time, so not everyone is willing to do it. The goal of comparison shopping is to save money while getting the best quality possible for the price. By using a variety of tools and methods, you can master the art of comparison shopping.
1. Look at the Unit Price
The unit price is the amount you pay for an ounce or pound of the product. Grocery items often list a unit price measurement on the shelf tags. You could score a higher quantity for less when buying the item with a cheaper or discounted unit price.
Sometimes price tags can be deceiving in stores. For example, a bag of 10 candy bars may seem cheaper than buying each one individually until you compare the unit prices. Then, you may discover that it is actually cheaper to buy individual candy bars instead of the bag. Sometimes buying the bigger package does not lead to savings.
2. Be Patient and Track Prices
If you are not in a huge hurry to buy a specific product, then take the time to track prices. Consider using an app like Honey to alert you when a product’s price drops. The app also provides coupon codes for 30,000 stores.
Not everything can be tracked with an app; however, so you may have to do your own sleuthing while shopping online. For a particular item at a store, consider noting when they do sales around the holidays and checking the prices during those times.
If apps and email alerts are not enough, go back to the standard spreadsheet and track prices yourself. You will easily create a useful database that shows price fluctuations over time. This will allow you to find patterns and shop at the right moment.
3. Use the Right Tools
Today, technology has made it easier to find better tools for comparing prices. For example, to compare insurance quotes, you can use a website that allows you to see prices from multiple companies at the same time. You do not have to waste time calling each insurance company individually to find the rate.
There are also many coupon and cashback apps, websites and social media pages that can help you save money. Some coupon websites like SlickDeals make retail shopping easier and have a community aspect where people can share tips. From hot deals to freebies, having a community where you can post about different topics can help you save even more money.
4. Avoid Focusing Only on Price
Price is not the only thing you should be comparing when you are shopping. There are other factors to consider such as quality, durability, features, performance and product reviews. Sometimes the lowest price means the quality is lacking, and other times it does not matter.
For example, often generic products are just as good as the name brand version. A secret that many stores do not want you to know is that some generic items are manufactured in the same places as the brand items.
Quality and durability may be the most important features to consider when saving money. A bargain is not worth it if the item breaks a day after you get it. For instance, buying a cheap shirt for $2 seems great at first, but it can develop holes after one wear and one wash. Now, that cheap shirt ends up in the trash or recycling.
5. Compare Bulk Prices
Bulk buying can sometimes save a lot of money, but it is not always the case. In general, it tends to be more useful for products you use regularly, such as paper towels or tissues. Before you purchase an enormous jar of mayonnaise from Costco or 30 cans of tomato sauce, you have to consider how often you use these products.
If you have to throw away the mayonnaise because it goes bad before you can finish it, then buying that item in bulk does not make sense. Usually, items that do not have an expiration date are worth buying in bulk. Other products to consider include things your family eats or uses daily.
Another problem to consider is space. Do you have space for 30 cans of tomato sauce in your kitchen or pantry? If you do not, where will these items end up? Buying in bulk only makes sense if you plan to use the products and have enough space to store them.
When you are comparison shopping, it is easy to be blinded by low price tags and loud sales announcements. But sometimes paying the lowest price is not worth it. You may end up with an item that is low quality or that lacks durability. Think about what you are purchasing carefully before paying.