Shopping, whether it’s for your weekly groceries, new clothes, or even a new house or car, can be just as fun and rewarding as it can be stressful and draining. It’s a biological fact that we feel good when we buy new things – it’s just how we’re wired. That rush of dopamine following a big purchase is your brain’s way of telling you that you did a good job and that this new thing will improve your life in some way. However, that rush can often be accompanied by a wave of dread, as you look at the state of your bank account and wonder who has been spending all your money. Here are some ways you can be prepared the next time your wallet is burning a hole in your pocket.

  1. Determine how much you will spend on a shopping trip BEFORE you shop.

If you’re trying to save money, a spur of the moment shopping spree should be out of the question. Budgeting, the heart of any savings plan, should play an active role in your shopping decisions. You know best how much money you’ve set aside this month for groceries, and you also know best how many times a month you need to restock the pantry.  That’s why it’s up to you to set limits on exactly how much you’re going to spend at the store. This also applies to large purchases like cars. With enough preparation, you should know exactly how much you’re going to spend when you walk into the dealership.

Speaking of…

  1. Do your research

Today, when so much consumer information is available at your fingertips, it is incredibly simple to know exactly what you need before you ever walk into a store, and how much you should spend on it. With the right planning and preparation, you don’t have to expect a surprise on any purchase – large or small. Price-comparing and user reviews are some of the best ways to be an informed shopper.

  1. Know your “triggers” for overspending

We all have those stores that we can’t control ourselves. Your favorite clothing store. The home improvement store. The pet store (Just me?). There are just certain places that are guaranteed to get a dollar out of us if we’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to be prepared so those “trigger” points don’t win. If you know you’re going to be near that store that gets you every time, plan ahead! Be ready and know exactly how you can avoid even stepping inside if you don’t really need to.

  1. Think. Reeeeaaally think.

Impulsiveness, as we have discussed before, is the arch-nemesis of saving. 90% of saving “tips and tricks” boils down to planning, thinking clearly, and not giving in to every whim. Many deals and sales that stores offer are designed to exploit the impulsive instincts we all have. Don’t let a commercial or salesperson tell you what you need. That’s what research is for! And…if it is on sale once..chances are in your favor it will be on sale again!

  1. Couponing!!!

Deals and bargains can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’re saving money! On the other, businesses are counting on you to buy more things because of those savings. That’s why things like sales and coupons are great, as long as they are used in conjunction with the other points on this list. Couponing has gone online, and there are always different types of deals and offers to take advantage of.

Shopping is important and should be fun; what it shouldn’t be, is a drag on your finances!