When you wait until the last minute to run an errand or plan a purchase, you give up your power as a savvy shopper. Without the luxury of time to mull over purchases, search for discounts and comparison shop, the short-term objective of getting what you need gets prioritized over long-term savings and utility.
Here are some situations where you might be paying a premium to get things done at the last minute:
Holiday essentials. If you wait until the week before Halloween to go shopping for costumes or until the night before Christmas to pick up the items on your gift list, you’re likely to get saddled with inflated, premium prices. If you can go so far as to plan for these occasions a year in advance, you’ll save by claiming all the clearance, day-after deals. Just be sure to stick to the non-perishables.
Seasonal shopping. Holiday and seasonal markdowns work similarly. You’re going to get the best deals just after peak season. That means outerwear clearance at the start of spring and beach wear discounts at the approach of autumn. Think six months ahead of time to get on the seasonal sale cycle.
Drop in buys. When you run out of toothpaste or facewash and have to make a quick drop in at your local drug store or grocery store to restock, it’s easy to get lured into spending more. Between flashy store displays, sale signs and impulse purchases, a one-stop shop for toothpaste can turn into a full basket of goodies. To avoid the temptation of the retail environment, plan ahead with online orders.
As you start to run out of the essentials, place an order so that your new provisions arrive at your doorstep just before you get down to zero. You can even look into subscribe and save options that ship replacement necessities, at a reduced cost, on a schedule of your choosing.
Overnight shipping. By the time you factor in weekends and the myriad of federal holidays, it can take some serious time to get a delivery via standard shipping. Allow orders enough time for a long delivery process so you don’t have to pay for two day or overnight shipping services, particularly around the holidays.
Expedited service. Faster service premiums are not limited to shipping. If you need a quick turn around on anything, from getting your passport renewed to making sure your favorite shirt is dry-cleaned in time for an event, a rush delivery or expedited service will cost you. Rather than dealing with the pressure and costs of a ticking clock, see if you can make note of necessary renewals or events than need specific preparations on your calendar a few weeks in advance.
Pricier commutes. Failure to leave enough time for travel and commuting can result in a more expensive trip. For example, for those in big cities, it can mean resorting to expensive cabs and cars rather than public transit options like buses and subways. Even for those who drive, the aggressive driving associated with rushed motorists is terrible for gas mileage and puts a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle, costing you in the long run.
Travel. Waiting until the eleventh hour is not only a bad idea for daily travel, but also for more elaborate outings. The most expensive time to buy a plane ticket is the day before a trip, then two days before, then three, and so on. The best values are typically found four to six weeks in advance. Use the earlier measure as a deadline instead and save yourself the significant price increases associated with waiting.
Retirement. The cost of saving for retirement gets more expensive each year by virtue of inflation, and while you can’t do anything about that, you can stop putting off planning for it. It won’t really save you any money, but you’ll certainly have a lot more of it when it comes time to think about your golden years.
If you ever wanted to see the cash value of time, check out the appreciation of a retirement account. It doesn’t require lots of work or savvy investing skills, just the time to sit and grow. Don’t let procrastination cause you to lose out on thousands in savings and growth.