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Smart shoppers don't waste money

November 07, 2003|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Sale tags still attached to clothes hanging in the closet, fruit sprouting mold in the refrigerator, and big boxes of cereal taking up space on the counter. Perhaps you, too, have fallen to the temptation of buying sale items just because they're inexpensive. Maybe you've purchased items in bulk at a membership club, thinking it's cheaper that way.

When you find items that have not been used, moldy food, and products that don't fit into storage spaces, it's time to examine your buying habits. Taking advantage of sales is the right thing to do - when you've got the storage space, have planned ahead and are sure it's really a bargain.

Consider the never-worn clothing. You'll never get your money's worth, regardless the price, if the item stays in the closet. Did it coordinate with any of your other clothing? Was it a trendy style that went out of favor within a season? Before buying a piece of clothing, consider its potential to be worn with existing clothes and accessories. Make sure it fits well. Think about how you'll feel wearing it this time next year.

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During the summer, fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance. It's easy to buy too much because the produce is so appealing and less costly than in nother seasons. However, if you don't use it up before it expires, then you've lost money. Be more realistic in estimating the amount of fresh produce you can use. Plan snacks and menus before shopping. Consider likes and dislikes. Avoid wasting all that nutritious food.

Membership clubs sell big quantities of practically anything you could want - food, shampoo, laundry detergent, diapers. If you're absolutely certain that the price you pay per item, pound or ounce is a savings, then great. If you've got the storage space for the extra items, the price is a true bargain and you have the money, then you're being a smart shopper.

It pays to compare prices no matter where you shop. Dollar stores have become popular. For some items, this is a real savings. For others, it's more than you might pay at other discount stores or supermarkets, especially if the item is on sale. Check for quality and make certain that items fit. Some of these stores do not have dressing rooms. Check the policy on returning items; it may not be allowed. Use unit pricing in comparing prices.

Being a smart shopper not only means getting the best buy for your money. It also means not wasting the money you spend.




Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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