What helps you meet a budget when shopping for essentials?

Many people like to pride themselves on not shopping, as saving money is easy when you stop yourself from spending it. But the truth is that everyone shops, because there are things you can’t go without buying, such as groceries, clothes, and household items. While it can seem hard to budget when you’re in the store, there are still ways to be frugal when shopping for essentials, you just have to prepare for your shopping trip beforehand.

Table of contents

Grocery shopping

Shopping for items you need can be challenging, as it is extremely easy to spend too much in the grocery store without even realizing it. Going over your budget for necessities can be detrimental to your lifestyle, as you won’t have enough to spend on wants that make you happy. But, there are a few helpful tips that can keep you on track with your shopping, and help you better manage your money.

Budgeting at the grocery store

The grocery store can be one of the hardest places to budget, as you have to buy so many items, and a lot of them are easy to justify, because it’s food. Setting a weekly budget for your groceries is a good way to avoid spending on food you don’t need. This can help you be more aware of the prices of the products you are buying while picking them out, instead of just throwing whatever sounds good in your cart. It is also important to make a list of what you need beforehand, so you can get the essentials first, and then use what’s left of your budget on food and items you may not need, but want for the week. You should make sure to make a list of what your essentials are. If you don’t know what they are beforehand, you can end up buying too many things and justify it by saying they were all essentials. 

Woman grocery shopping, essentials

Planning for the grocery store

While outlining your budget is the first step to staying within a good price range while shopping for essentials, the next thing you need to do is figure out how to get your products for as cheap as you can. This will allow more room for other things you may want. First, choose a grocery store that has cheaper prices overall. Larger chains typically have better prices than family owned stores, as they carry multiple brand options, so you can compare more prices. Another tip for preparing for the store is to make sure you eat before you go. If you show up to the store hungry, you might put things in your cart that just sound good to you at the moment. Once you are at the store and comparing options, don’t be afraid to choose the generic brands. Store brand items are cheaper alternatives to big name products, and don’t differ too much in quality. You can also save money while you’re in the store by taking your time browsing through items, as you may be able to find sales or coupons and get quality products for a cheaper price. Discounts can make larger brand name items cheaper than store brand items, so you might be able to get away with getting the brand or product you want every once in a while.

Going to a bulk store

Another way of shopping that can help you save money in the long run is to shop at bulk stores and buy items in bulk (Daily Notes). Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club sell items in bulk and offer deals and rewards programs to customers who are members. This way, you can get good deals on items and they will end up lasting you for months. You can limit the amount of trips you take to the store when buying in bulk, and it will also prevent you from buying something you don’t need. Since you will be buying so much of it, it makes it easier to determine if you actually need a product or not. 

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How to find good deals

Before going to the store, make sure you research prices between brands of products. This will help you gauge what prices are considered reasonable for certain items. This will also help you figure out what the quality of the product is between brands. Knowing how good the quality of the brands are can help you determine if the price of it is worth it. This might differ from product to product, as there are some items that you might be willing to pay higher prices for. This is a good thing to keep in mind while making your budget, as you might need to purchase less quality brands for other items to even it out. Consumer reviews are also a good way to check the quality. Since reviews come straight from unbiased users of the product, they are more reliable than information found on the product website. They also can help you find good deals on products, as some products that are cheaper and seem to be of poor quality can actually be great products and better than their competitors. Reviews can help you find deals like this, so you won’t need to spend more money for a brand that is technically higher quality, but won’t satisfy you as much. It can also be helpful to look out for when a specific product releases if you know you want it. Products can increase in price after they release because demand is higher, so it’s important to buy them as soon as they come out, as you can get a better deal (Daily Notes).

People looking at reviews online, budget

Shopping for clothes

While grocery shopping is what comes to mind when most people think of essentials, clothes are also an essential item. Most people think of clothes shopping as something fun to do when you feel the need to splurge, but most people need to update their wardrobe a few times a year to be prepared for whatever events they have coming up in their lives. Clothes are often harder to save money on, as you want good quality items that will last you a long time, but those are extremely expensive. Cheaper items will normally fall apart after a year or maybe even less.

Woman shopping for clothes, store

Where to go shopping

While trying to go clothes shopping on a budget, you should approach it the same way you would grocery shopping, choosing what stores to visit first. The cheapest places to shop are discount stores and thrift stores, but fast fashion chains and department stores are good options as well (MasterClass). Try to stay away from high end stores or more expensive chains, as even though their clothes are good quality, you can find comparable ones for much lower prices. Discount and thrift stores are good for finding everyday clothes like t-shirts and jeans, while department stores and fast fashion chains can be good for going out outfits, work outfits, and shoes. While all of these are good options, the quality of the items sold there can be not as good. Thrift store clothes can already be worn down and fast fashion and discount store clothes can deteriorate quickly. However, department stores are usually a safe bet.

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In the store

Once you choose the store that fits your needs, there are still important rules to follow when you are shopping. Just like grocery shopping, you need to set a budget before you go into the store or you will end up putting things in your cart you do not need. A budget can help you determine what items of clothing are really important. Next, you will need to search for sales in the store. You can do your research before to see what places are offering sales, or do your shopping around holidays where places typically have items on sale. Although sales can get you good deals, it is easy to fall into a trap and justify purchases you don’t actually need just because you got it for a cheaper price. Once you have found all the items you need, make sure you are aware of the return policy at the store. Even if you try everything on and it seems to fit, things can change quickly. You might not need the item anymore, it may look different than you were expecting, or you may just realize it was a spur of the moment purchase that you don’t want to keep. Make sure you have a plan to get your money back just in case any of these things happen (MasterClass).

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Budget awareness while shopping

While there are different tips for different types of essential shopping, the most important takeaway that applies to any type of shopping is to set a budget before you do anything else. This way, you can tailor all of your other decisions around your budget. It can help you get an idea of what stores to go to, what sales to look out for, and what items to allocate more money to. Creating a standard budget is the most important part of shopping for essentials.


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