There’s more to saving money than just ditching the credit card or buying things on sale. When the household budget is really tight, some people often go to great lengths just to stretch the dirham a little bit further.

Budget-minded consumers don’t usually patronise the nearby convenience store, they go to different shopping malls and hypermarkets to always secure the best value for their money. They know exactly where to find the cheapest laundry soap, the best-priced meat or the most wallet-friendly fruits and vegetables. Whether they’re re-stocking the fridge or looking for a new television set, they don’t make hasty decisions. Every purchase is carefully planned.

It seems that since the financial downturn, and as prices of goods and services continue to go up, a lot of people have altered their purchasing behaviour and become accustomed to this kind of shopping.

The latest research by IGD Shopper Vista, a monthly analysis of British grocery shopping sentiment, found that 42 per cent of consumers have checked out two or more supermarkets in the same shopping trip and nearly half (48 per cent) are reducing food waste to keep expenses down.

Nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) have “paid for their shopping in two parts to benefit from a loyalty scheme or promotion,” while 46 per cent are paying much more attention to planning and budgeting.

Creative shoppers

“As well as planning better, reducing food waste and cooking from scratch, shoppers are becoming more creative. This includes going to more than one store in a single shopping trip, as they continue to find ways to secure the best value during the downturn,” Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive at IGD, said in a press release.

A related report by Which?, a consumer advocate based in the UK, showed that the squeeze on budgets have made consumers become careful with their spending more than ever.

About six in 10 (62 per cent) people told the organisation that their buying habits have changed since before the financial crisis, with seven in 10 (70 per cent) saying they no longer make impulse buys as much as before.

About two thirds of the respondents (64 per cent) are checking out more reviews about products and services ahead of making a purchase, compared to before the economic downturn.

This is how you can get 
the best value for your money:

Set a budget.

Know exactly what you need or want.

When shopping for food and grocery, keep a list handy and stick to it.

Shop around before putting things into your cart. You might need to visit two or more supermarkets during your weekly or monthly shopping trip.

Try buying fresh produce sourced locally or nearby — they could be cheaper than the crops imported from a remote farm abroad.

Go for store brands to score bigger savings.

Ask about the store’s return policy. This applies to purchases involving clothes, shoes, fashion accessories, furniture, jewellery and other major purchases.

Big-ticket purchases require a lot of research. Ask around. Friends and family could provide some useful feedback and tips. Don’t let the salesman pressure you into making an impulse buy.

Read independent product reviews online and gather inputs from the experts. Pay special attention to consumer complaints.

Make sure you have copies of warranties and guarantees. Review the terms and conditions written there.

Before signing anything, make sure you have read and understood what you are about to agree to.

Keep all the receipts as well as certificates if you’re buying things like expensive jewellery.

Anticipate that you might have some questions or concerns about the purchase later. Find out who you can contact if that happens.