Shopping can be fun or frustrating, depending on the person. Some people derive great joy from all aspects of shopping, while others find it to be a task that they would rather defer to someone else. Sometimes whether you like to shop is contingent upon your budget and how much you have set aside to purchase the items you need. Regardless of your preference, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to go shopping at some point or another. The goal is to shop smart so that you don’t waste your time or money.

There are also a handful of social and psychological factors involved in shopping. Whether you purchase half a dozen cans of corn on sale or boho chic dresses, there just might be more behind your decision than you realize. But let’s face it, sometimes you end up purchasing something because you saw a great ad online, on TV or when you’re out and about. There’s a reason why billions of dollars are spent to market products – because it works! In order to start shopping smarter, you’ll have to get into the habit of assessing the motives behind your purchases. Figuring that out can be as easy as asking yourself, why am I buying this item? Just keep in mind that there are a lot of valid responses and looking good is one of them.

Something else that you can do is maintain an awareness of the atmosphere when you shop. Retailers tend to foster an environment that entices you to keep shopping. For example, there’s music, fragrance, lighting and images that are known to have any emotional impact on people. Have you ever gotten home with bags full of stuff, only to realize that you probably didn’t need any of it? If so, then you were probably seduced into those purchases, to some degree. But don’t worry, it happens to the best of us! Whether you’re buying a pair of shoes or a winter coat, marketers are experts and loosening your wallet, and most people don’t even know it’s happening.

When shopping in a grocery store, you probably have a good understanding of what things cost, especially if you buy the same items frequently. When that’s the case, it’s a good idea to identify when price fluctuations occur so that you can purchase staples when they’re at the lowest price. You can either do this by participating in loyalty programs or signing up with external coupon lists. There are also price-matching apps that can be downloaded to your Smartphone. The goal is to prevent paying for items when they are priced higher because it adds up over a period of time. In an age of social media, if you’re on any of the social media platforms, you’re likely to receive recommendations for what is deemed to be something that fits your preference based on data gathered about you. While suggestions can be interesting, and sometimes accurate, you know yourself and what you like more than social media marketers, so you might want to pass – unless it’s really cute!