5 Ways to Shop on a Budget

Make your money count with smart shopping practices.
i Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Shopping on a budget means that you decide in advance how much money you have to spend and then stick to your limits. Overspending in one area means the money has to come from another part of your budget, so it’s important to give careful consideration to any changes before you implement them. Make good choices and think long and hard before spending any money, to help you stay within your limits.

Plan Ahead

Before you decide how much you have to use for shopping, figure out your income and then budget for essentials such as housing and utilities. List expenses in order of importance, and then use your income to pay for the essentials in that order. Keep to the budget you have set for yourself and avoid impulse buying.


Make a list before you go to the store and then stick to your list. Shop at discount stores and other places where you can get good buys on high-quality foods, such as at your local farmers market. Buy discounted meats that are close to the pull date, then either cook or freeze the meat the same day. Avoid buying candy and junk food since these tend to be expensive and provide little nutritional value. Purchase food in bulk whenever possible and prepare large meals so you can freeze a portion for later use.

Pay Cash

According to financial expert Dave Ramsey, people tend to spend more when using credit cards, putting them over their budget limits. If you don’t pay the card off, the interest is so high that it can hit your budget hard, adding substantially to the cost of anything you buy. Save the credit card for a real emergency, and then make it a priority to pay off the balance as quickly as possible. Pay cash whenever possible so that you see exactly where your money is going.

Shop Online

Shopping online for many of the items you need gives you access to many more choices than you typically have in one geographical area, plus it helps you to avoid impulse buying. You can often get the same brands you would buy locally from an online store for considerably less money. Be sure to factor in the cost of shipping and read the fine print to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Look for discount coupons and free shipping offers to get the most from online shopping.

Buying Extras

If you live on a tight budget, the best way to shop for the extras you want is to save up for them. Instead of going overboard on a big expense in a single month and coming up short in other areas, put away a portion of what you will need every month for several months in advance. Once you have the entire amount saved, you can pay up-front for what you want without the worry of a credit card bill.

the nest