For those of you who set a new year’s resolution to improve your physical health, getting to the gym and eating healthier at home are probably key parts of that plan.
But if you’re also looking to improve your financial health, a new year’s resolution focused on your shopping habits can be just as important.
It’s not too late to resolve to shop smarter and save more; after all, January isn’t over yet. To get your resolution-making juices flowing, here are five shopping resolutions you’ll want to set — and keep — in 2016.
1. Do your homework.
This year, stop shopping on a whim. By doing your homework — comparing prices between stores, applying relevant coupons and consulting customer reviews — you could potentially save a considerable amount of dough. You’ll secure the best deal while avoiding less-than-satisfactory products.
But it’s not just about keeping your eyes peeled for a sale or searching for a promo code. You can plan when to make major purchases, simply by knowing that certain product categories reach their lowest prices at certain times of the year.
Need help scheduling? We’ve created a calendar for what to buy every month of the year.
2. Pick the right products.
One of the biggest mistakes shoppers make is buying the wrong product — for example, buying the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 when the less-expensive Microsoft Surface Pro 3 could get the job done.
Before you make a major purchase, determine what you need in a new product and write down a list of the features you value most. You may find that a less advanced (and more affordable) version will have everything you need.
You’ll cut costs by buying a model without extraneous features you’ll hardly use. This especially applies to electronics, including cameras, activity trackers, streaming media players and smartphones.
3. Be a loyal customer.
Prove your loyalty this year by closely following your favorite retailers. Sign up for email lists (new subscribers often receive a coupon to save on their next purchase) and follow retailers on social media to be among the first to know about sales and deals.
Plus, the more you frequent a store, the more familiar you’ll become with the retailer’s regular promotions. For instance, Victoria’s Secret shoppers know to hold off on purchasing intimates and swimsuits until the store’s Semi-Annual Sale drops in January and June each year.
Furthermore, you can always use loyalty to your advantage. When negotiating prices on major purchases, such as furniture and mattresses, it can’t hurt to remind sales associates of your continued dedication. After all, they won’t want to lose your business because of one bad deal.
4. Put your phone to work.
We bet you already use your phone a lot (or maybe too much), but don’t neglect to use it when you shop.
Whether you shop online or prefer the experience of in-store browsing, keep your smartphone handy this year. Load your device with apps like RedLaser and ShopSavvy. They’ll make comparing prices as easy as a scan of a bar code — and you’ll never forget to ask for a price match, when a retailer meets or beats a competitor’s price for the same item.
Be open to more options too. Other shopping apps notify you of sales happening in your general location (Shopular), help you keep track of budgeting for gifts (You Need a Budget), and organize all of your tracking numbers for deliveries of online purchases (Slice).
5. Gear up for Black Friday.
Finally, Black Friday may not be until November, but you can resolve now to be prepared. Before the hyped shopping day arrives, decide which products you want to buy and keep an eye out for retailers’ sales circulars as the time nears. There are deals to be had on everything from appliances to electronics on the day after Thanksgiving, and you won’t want to be sitting on the sidelines when all the sales action goes down.
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Image via iStock.