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6 Shopping Hacks That Will Save You Money

Christy Bieber, The Motley Fool

Want to spend less on purchases big and small? These six shopping hacks make it easy to spend less on the stuff you love.

Woman holding shopping bags

Image Credit: Getty Images

Most of us love shopping -- but not the bills that go along with it. Whether you're buying necessities or luxury items, you want the cost of your goods to be as low as possible without compromising quality. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can reduce your spending while still buying the stuff you need. In fact, by following these six shopping hacks, you may be able to save thousands.

1. Know the sales schedules

Items go on sale on a predictable cycle. This is true for both big and small purchases. Grocery stores, for example, typically put the same item on sale every six to eight weeks. So, if you go through a box of cereal every two weeks and it's on sale, don't just buy one box -- buy three or four so you won't have to purchase again until the next time the price drops.

As far as big items, sales typically happen at specific times of the year. As Consumer Reports explains, August is an ideal time to pick up printers, laptops, headphones, and tablets while fitness products and TVs go on sale in January and pressure washers are a bargain in June. Sit down with some guides to cyclical sales cycles if you're planning a big purchase and time your buy strategically to when prices are likely to be lowest.

2. Use coupons as much as you can

Ok, so the people in line behind you may not love the obsessed coupon lady (or man) -- but the reality is that coupons can save you a lot of money if you use them the right way.  

You don't have to buy a Sunday paper to get your hands on every single coupon that's out there. You can buy individual coupons for a few cents for products you actually use from sites like Klip2Save and Bargain Coupon Clippers. Try to buy a bunch at once to save on shipping, and combine coupons with store sales to get the best bargains.

Before shopping online, it's also helpful to do a quick search for a coupon. Sites such as RetailMeNot and DealNews make codes available for thousands of stores and there's no reason not to take a few seconds to type in a promo code.

3. Leave items in your online shopping account

Shopping online has become a way of life for many people, but did you know you can actually manipulate many Internet sites into sending you coupons for items you're interested in? It's true -- by simply adding items you want to buy to your online shopping cart but not following through on the purchase, you can often trigger the site to send you a coupon.

While this doesn't necessarily work for every single online retailer, it's worth a try to add items to your cart and walk away for a day or two. Not only does this provide time for the store to send you a promo to entice you to buy, but you'll also have time to think about whether you really want to complete the purchase.

When you come back in a few days, those shoes or that power tool may not be so appealing any longer -- and not buying will provide the most savings of all.

4. Sign up for cash-back programs

Another great way to save is to get paid for purchases you make. Using a cash back credit card is one way to do that, especially if you apply for a credit card that rewards you for purchases you make most frequently.

There are also other cash-back sites you can sign up for, such as ebates. When you shop through the site's link, you'll have a percentage of your purchase price deposited into your account.

5. Take advantage of apps

There's an app for just about everything, and that includes saving money on everyday purchases.

Use apps such as Honey, which is an extension you add to your browser that helps you find promo codes for purchases automatically. Or, download ShopSavvy to scan barcodes and find the best price among retailers selling items you're interested in.

When downloading an app designed to help you save, make sure to read independent reviews to avoid installing apps that put malware on your computer or that tie up a lot of memory. There are plenty of good ones out there -- you just need to choose carefully.

6. Shop when you're full

You've probably heard that you shouldn't grocery shop while hungry -- but you may be surprised to find you shouldn't do any kind of shopping on an empty stomach.

According to recent research, hungry shoppers spent as much as 60% more on non-food department store purchases compared with those who weren't craving food. The problem is, hunger can make you more acquisitional, so you're more likely to just buy something to satisfy your need -- even if you can't eat it.

7. You can be a smart shopper with a little savvy

Now that you know these key shopping tricks, you'll be a smarter shopper who won't waste as much of your cash on everyday items and big buys. Your money will go further, and you can use the cash you save for important goals like paying down debt or saving for a secure future.

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