Shopping on a Limited Budget and Loving Every Minute of It

By George Gallagher

For a lot of people, finding a great deal for an item seems too time consuming. The truth is that with online shopping these days, you can probably comparison shop quickly and easily for most of the things you want to buy. The Christmas season is crazy with deals and discounts. Every store is fighting to be the place where you shop, so they need to offer great prices. While many people go out on Black Friday and go insane, the truth is that the entire month of December is one big Christmas sale. Here are some tips about how to love buying things cheap.


Here’s your practice shopping trip. Go to the store without any money. No credit cards, no debit cards, no cash, no checkbook (or maybe you can bring checks, probably you won’t be able to use them). Shop around, look at stuff, consider who might like what. Don’t buy anything!

If it helps you, leave your money in the car (not in plain view) so if you find something that is truly worth buying and at the right price, you can still go back outside and get your wallet. But try looking at things you want to buy, and then denying yourself the purchase.

What you’ll notice when you walk out of a store empty handed is that you feel a sense of relief. Honestly. Think about how much money you didn’t spend, think of the items and the prices and add it up (estimate) to see what you saved by buying nothing. Doesn’t that feel good?

You Are On A Mission

I know, I know, that sounds silly and you think it’ll never work. But the truth is that having a goal can greatly reduce the difficulty of trying to shop on a limited budget. Tell yourself you can only spend $30. Then see if you can stretch each dollar by only looking at items whose prices are super low. Keep your eyes open for other options if something is a little too pricey. And remind yourself that if you only spend $15, that other $15 can go towards the next present or towards some great Christmas cookies and treats.

Shopping can be like a game you play with yourself. Set a budget and some goals for what you want to buy, then see if you can do even better. Be realistic, both with what you can spend and what you think you’ll spend. And have some fun telling yourself not to buy things. And remember to enjoy it every time you walk out of a store having not bought anything.

You Don’t Have to Buy It!

Stay focused on the goal. You want to only spend $30, but you see something for $35. Wait. Move on and keep looking. If it turns out that you can’t find anything better, you can always go back to the $35 item. But chances are, you’ll find something for cheaper and you’ll be happier with the choice.

Take Your Time

This goes back to the last tip, if you take your time or start early with your shopping, you will feel less pressure to just buy the first thing you find. Rushing will inevitably lead to choosing something that just pops out at you, and you’ll find out the price when you get to the cash register. Too late to turn back? No, you still don’t have to buy it. But take those practice shopping trips without buying things, and you may find just what you want and be able to go back for the good stuff at the good prices.

George Gallagher is a personal finance and frugality blogger. He also helps people with their private student loan consolidation requirements.

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