15 Ways to Save Money While Shopping

Shopping is a super fun activity that can help you bond with friends, ease stress, and have a good time! Unfortunately, it can be a problem when you're a broke college student. But don't give up shopping altogether! Here are a few ways to save as you shop:

1. Coupons

They're not just for your mom! Most retailers have coupons available on their website or app, which you can easily pull up on your phone at the register! As someone who worked in retail, I actually preferred people who did this because it's so easy to do and doesn't clutter up the register. Just don't wait until you're already checking out with the cashier to remember you can pull up their website. 

2. Get on your favorite stores' mailing lists

It may seem annoying to deal with an influx of ads and coupons, but it's a way to get exclusive offers. It's so worth it when it comes to your wallet!

3. Thrift stores

Thrift stores are awesome because you have such a wide variety of styles available for the lowest possible price. You never know what hidden gems you can find. I once found a beautiful cashmere sweater for next to nothing! Just make sure to wash your purchases before wearing them!

4. Dollar stores

Dollar stores have all the basics you need for your apartment or dorm room. Glasses, china dishes, dish soap, hand towels, pens... It's all there for dirt cheap. Just be wary of what's actually a good deal. Two Advil pills for a dollar, for example, is not worth the money when you can get a bottle of 100 pills for $8.

5. Used bookstores

Barnes and Noble is a glorious place, but when you get down to it, paying $20 for every book can seriously add up. Older books are just as good - if not better - than the newest bestseller, and they often come at a fraction of the cost!

6. Drug stores

All of your beauty supply needs can be found at your local Target or Walmart cosmetics section, containing everything from eyeliner to shampoo. It may take a while to find what drug store brand is best for you, but it's so worth it. Who needs a $30 mascara, anyway?

7. Clearance sections

Can't stay away from pricey stores like Abercrombie or Victoria's Secret? Go on in, but keep your eyes on the clearance section! The products are the same high quality, but at a much lower cost! Who can argue with that?

8. Stay out of that one store...

We all have that one store where you cannot go in without falling in love with everything you see. Stay out of there unless you know you want to spend a good chunk of change!

9. Don't be afraid to buy the store brand

Instead of your trusty namebrand products, opt for the generic version. The difference in quality is barely noticeable, and no one actually needs namebrand paper towels.

10. Budget

Budgeting everything from your phone bill to your daily coffee allows you to know exactly how much money you want to spend versus how much you want to save. There are tons of budgeting apps that make it super easy!

11. Make a list

Once you budget how much you want to spend, make a list of everything you need. Making a game plan before you go into a store makes it easier to avoid frivolous spending and impulsive buying.

12. Eat before going out

The food court food is delicious, I know, but it also takes advantage of that post-shopping hunger you get after a long day of walking around. Make sure you spend money on things that you'll enjoy for a long time, not on expensive (and often unhealthy) foods.

13. Use cash

When you use cash, you can physically see the amount you're spending. Swiping a card makes it very easy to be blind to the overall cost of your purchases. If you see the cash physically dwindling away, you'll think twice before every purchase.

14. Calculate opportunity cost

For example: you're considering buying a $30 sweater, and you make $10 per hour at your job. Ask yourself, "Is that sweater is really worth 3 hours of hard work?" Whether it be hours at work or cups of coffee, weighing the options of what that money could do for you in the future is an easy way to see if you're making an impulse buy or if you actually need that product.

15. Treat yo self

Occasionally rewarding yourself for hard work or acing a final is a good way to kill any urges to binge-shop. Not allowing yourself to make any fun purchases is being way too harsh on yourself. Just be careful to not burn through your whole paycheck when you do decide to splurge!