6 Shopping Habits to Help You Save More in 2012

Getting the best deals on groceries, clothing, and travel requires more than just using coupons or promo codes.

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As the new year unfolds and you prepare a fresh budget, make sure your shopping habits aren’t setting you up for financial problems in a few short weeks. Getting the best deals on groceries, clothing, travel, and other expenses will require more than just using coupons or promo codes. Sometimes the best deals aren’t found so readily and you’ll have to dig to secure the lowest price. If you tend to be a compulsive shopper or always go over budget, make this the year to break out of those bad spending habits and take control of your finances.

Here are six shopping habits to adopt to save more in the year ahead:

[See 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2012.]

1. Compare prices with shopping apps. Amazon’s shopping app makes it incredibly simple to compare prices at multiple stores just by scanning a barcode or doing a quick product search from your smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re shopping for the latest tech toys, buying a pair of shoes, or building up your music collection, use shopping apps like these to make sure you are getting the lowest price. Amazon also works with independent sellers that might be offering a better deal than retail stores and merchants. Do some comparison shopping with the help of shopping apps to get a better price.

2. Keep up with Facebook deals. More and more retailers are posting Facebook-only deals and exclusive offers on their Facebook page throughout the week. Make sure you’re checking your News Feed now and then to take advantage of free shipping offers, buy-one-get-one-free specials, and exclusive pricing on certain items. Track down the Facebook pages of your favorite brands and designers so you can take advantage of offers you just won’t find at a department store or from a third-party seller.

[See How to Get the Best Discounts on Salon and Spa Services.]

3. Subscribe to local daily deal sites. Beyond the major daily deal sites that are still posting some great deals on those luxury purchases and travel packages, you’ll find dozens of smaller daily deal sites specific to your local area. Check your local newspaper’s shopping section for information on local deals and do an online search for deal sites specific to your city or a city you’re traveling to. This market is becoming increasingly competitive and you can find deep discounts on everything from spa treatments and restaurant visits, to gifts and personal training sessions.

4. Use coupons to stockpile. Take advantage of double coupon offers, in-store coupons and printable online coupons to stockpile some of the items you use on a weekly or monthly basis. You can also get into the stockpiling habit when you shop at warehouse clubs and other discount stores. Even these stores sometimes have coupons and in-club offers that can help you save more money in the long run. This can be tricky when you don’t have much cash on hand, but can be a great way to cut down the cost of each item. Just make sure that you’re aware of the cost per item before you start loading the cart. Not everything you buy in bulk will end up saving you money–especially when you have to throw some items away–so you’ll need to check expiration dates and make sure you’ll actually use up your stockpile within a reasonable amount of time.

[See 10 Things You Should Always Buy in Bulk.]

5. Read reviews and testimonials closely. Save yourself money on trying and testing new products by searching for unbiased reviews, recommendations, and testimonials. Check out recommendations from your peers on Facebook and seek out the latest reviews so you can make a more informed decision. Remember that not all stores or merchants have flexible return policies and you could end up wasting a good amount of money on shipping and returns. Make better purchasing decisions so that you don’t have to backtrack and go through the shopping process over and over again.

6. Check your receipts. Pay more attention when checking your receipts to make sure you haven’t been overcharged. It’s too easy for cashiers to miss coupons and vouchers at the checkout lane. In some cases, the sales price doesn’t scan correctly. Keep your eye on prices as you go through the checkout and make sure you got all of your discounts before you leave the store. It’s much easier to get a price adjustment on the same trip. Some stores have a policy where you’ll get the item for free or at a discount because of a pricing error.

Sabah Karimi is an award-winning contributor to Yahoo and Wise Bread’s guide to the best cash-back shopping cards.