What is a power shopper? Why would you want to be one?
We all have to shop to eat, to wear clothes, have a place to live, and enjoy our work and play. But if you become a really savvy, smart shopper, you know all the best places to find the things you want to buy, and better yet - you find them at prices you can afford to pay, that would feel terrific, wouldn't it?
Now suppose you make money back on almost every purchase you make, - you know how to order the best bargains from around the world, - at reliable shopping sites, - and can manage to avoid shipping costs in most cases, wouldn't that make you an enviable shopper - a true Power Shopper?
You are probably somewhere between two extreme shopper types;
1). the naturally organized hunter-gatherers, who always seem to have good luck with the deals they find;
or, on the other hand, like many. . .
2). you wander around in malls and stores for hours like a tourist, examining merchandise, and often come home exhausted and discouraged.
My good news for you is this - you CAN learn to become a power shopper! The internet makes it possible and a pleasure.
The perfect power shopper does not dread shopping, but treats it as seriously as one of her part-time jobs. That is, she sets aside specific blocks of time for it, and is constantly watching for better ways to do it. She's not stuck in an old habitual rut. Her attitude is - "if I'm going to shop, I'm going to shop well, and keep improving!"
Our ideal power shopper knows how much she has to spend, and what she'll have to buy, so she can plot an agenda or list of what comes first and what she will be able to afford later. in other words, she's got a budget and she sticks to it.
But she also keeps track of her shopping and every cent that goes in or out of her accounts. Of course, also those priority lists. She knows that rent or mortgage payments and utility bills come before a new outfit. Car repair bills will have to wedge in there too before the outfit. Baby food will trump the car repairs. It's vital to know these things.
A shortage of funds is great motivation for finding the most economical deals available, and here the internet is a terrific help to any power shopper. It is now possible to research and scour the world for the best prices on some item you need to buy.
It is possible to create one's own record sheets to enter manually every purchase, and expense, but there are others too. My sister Elsie created a simple record-keeping book called, "Color of Money." (You can order it from me). I've prepared some stand-alone business documents to download as well.
What is most important is that your record-keeping is simple enough for you to understand and use regularly. If you hate it, it will make you snarky and snappish - not a pleasant power shopper.
A budget can grow and morph over time, as needs change. A Power Shopper's budget is flexible, but under her control. In fact, her secret is to make a challenge, a game, of always spending less than she first thought, or than what others pay. Her record-keeping helps her to know her score.
By comparing product features and prices, even how other buyers evaluated an item, or a shopping site, and by finding the best coupons and rebates, a power shopper has a sweet thrill of victory when she makes her purchase. Even if she doesn't brag to you, watch for that glint in her eyes.
Either she has it in her head, or a power shopper uses hand-drawn charts, or maybe even - a computer spreadsheet, to keep a clear sense of when certain stores or chains have their best sales. She knows that many department stores schedule their bedding and housewares sales for January, or early in the year. She knows when the gardening stuff goes on sale, and which stores reduce everything Christmasy right after the holidays.
The more organized and savvy the power shopper, the more likely she marks these things on a chart. She likes to know for sure! So she watches the weekly ads and flyers, and knows when the downtown stores will organize a big summer sale, dragging racks of clothes and shoes out into the reserved street, - all with deeply slashed prices.
But guess what! Online stores have such sales too! Our savvy, modern power shopper knows that and adapts her ways. She has discovered that online shopping put a world market at her fingertips, so she researches their trends too, and charts their sales as her ongoing project. She keeps fine-tuning her knowledge base and improving her methods.
A power shopper may occassionally buy a cute camera or another item, only to find the next week that it's a loss-leader in another store for 50% off. But she is seldom burned twice like that! Sometimes she just keep looking and let some time pass. If she missed one deal, she's alert to more that are sure to follow. To that end, a smart power shopper follows the blogs or subscribes to the ezines of her favourite stores. The hints dropped there are for their regular, inner-circle shoppers! She jots them down in her charts.
She uses her cool, objective mind to discern the true difference between clearance, liquidation and seasonal sales.
The most aggressive and determined power shopper may discover that a certain area or community has super-duper sales over a week or month. When this happens in a physical location, she plans a shopping expedition If she has to, she takes a vacation to go there.
When this happens online, on sites she especially loves, she may take a day or two off to stay home and do her mega-shopping online. But if she doesn't have to do a lot of in-depth research first, she can probably weave it into her usual daily routines. Oh the advanages of shopping online!
Of course, since she has her charts of seasonal sales, and a budget she has saved up for these sales and they don't catch her off-guard.
I have to admire this power shopper; she's sensible and forward-thinking, not a beserk spendthrift who is out of control.
Some people can always remember the regular price of almost anything. As I get older, this gets harder for me. So I have to jot these things down as I compare prices. Knowing the regular price helps us to recognize a truly good sale price when we see one. But you know after a while we forget the great deals we snapped up. So I'm yearning to be like our idea power shopper, who records all her savings, and when and where. (She's probably found an app for that).
These numbers help her when reasoning with others about the value of her purchases - and they show her how well she's doing.
When you go to your favourite mall, you likely know which stores you will visit first, and which ones later - if you have time.
Here's how our online power shopper does it. she creates bookmarks to her favourite online shopping sites. She is registered on them too, so that when she arrives she can do her shopping with just a click or two, go through the shopping cart steps, and be done in minutes. As her bookmarks have grown, she sorted them into folders. For example she has one for electronics stores. When she wants to compare prices in a research step, she right-clicks on the folder name, and then on the fly-up menu clicks ons "Open All in Tabs" (a Firefox feature). Presto! All the bookmarks in that folder open in a row of tabs. Power Shopper clicks on one after another, closes those that have prices out of her range, and studies the final two or three more closely, until she has decided.
She does this with her favourite shopping bots - or price comparison sites too.
Our power shopper knows that she can even buy second-hand stuff online. Sally Ann and Value Village have websites; she still has to go to the store to choose items, but she can check for specials on the sites. But then there is eBay and some other consignment sites. There it is possible to bid on and if you win, buy all kinds of previously owned treasures.
Personally, I like to find my shoes in a second-hand store. Let someone else pay the higher prices, and break them in for me! But I have yet to learn to be a confident auction shopper.
But, say, I would sure like to become more like this Power Shopper! Wouldn't you?
I've studied her example and outlined some things we'll have to do to become more like her - Come along, let's do this!