I love saving money, but traipsing from shop to shop, trawling the web or fighting off other bargain hunters in the sales? Not so much. Well, shopping for cheap household products can be easier than you think.
Time it right
Unless it’s an emergency, it pays to bide your time. Some products are routinely reduced at certain times of year – generally when they’re out of season and shops want to shift stock.
Lawnmowers, for example, are often sold cheaply at the end of the autumn and spring gardening rush. Likewise, pressure washers feature regularly in Boxing Day and summer sales (but keep a lookout across the year, as they’re often bundled into special offers with other products and accessories).
Keep Christmas in your heart all year
Remember that 1996 film Jingle all the Way, where Arnold Schwarzenegger dashes around on Christmas Eve trying to buy the Christmas present his son has his heart set on? Learn from Arnie’s error and start shopping early.
In particular, avoid buying home-entertainment products, such as TVs and cinema systems, in the Christmas run-up. That’s when demand is at its highest, so you could end up spending a silly sum.
Try before you buy
Over a third of you told us you’d feel self-conscious lying on a mattress in a shop. But years of peaceful sleep are at stake here, so it’s well worth it, and a good shop shouldn’t make you feel awkward anyway.
A word of warning: just as you shouldn’t go food shopping when hungry, don’t try a mattress at the end of a long day. Any old mattress will feel lovely when you’re already halfway to the land of nod.
Do you really need the Nutribullet 600, or will a lookalike do just as well? We’ve unearthed two excellent blenders that cost a mere £30 each. It’s always worth checking our reviews to see if a pricey popular product has a cheaper, equally cheerful, cousin.
Review supermarket prices regularly
Supermarkets are fiercely competitive about pricing, but which is the cheapest of them all? And will it still be such great value a month on?
We’ve found that dishwasher tablets can fluctuate by £8 across the year: packs of 30 branded dishwasher tablets can vary from £5 to as much as £13. We also found that some are discounted for half the year at Asda, and for nearly as long at Tesco and Sainsbury’s. So it could be worth buying a batch if you spot them at their cheapest.
Consider using price-matching schemes. If your bill isn’t 10% cheaper in Asda than Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose or Morrisons, it will give you a voucher towards your next shop.
Tesco also checks the price of branded products against some of its competitors, and deducts any difference at the till. Ocado and Waitrose price match against Tesco on certain items, too. So arm yourself with information before heading out.
It’s easy to assume that the number on the tag is the price you have to pay. But fortune favours the bold. Shops will be far less surprised and much more willing to lower their prices than you’d think. Bring examples of cheaper online prices, ask to speak to a manager and don’t put this off until you’re absolutely desperate for the purchase: a shop assistant with any nous will smell desperation a mile off.
What are your top tips?
Do you know the best time to buy or any shopping secrets? Do you feel confident haggling and about your experiences of getting terrific deals?