Five habits that kill your buying power

Make sure to do your homework before making any purchases. Lack of comparison research is one of five habits that kills your buying power.

China Daily/Reuters/File
A clerk counts U.S. dollar banknotes after counting Chinese 100 Yuan banknotes at a branch of the Agricultural Bank of China in Qionghai (2012). These five habits give you less value for your dollar.

With the busy shopping season upon us, you're probably striving to get bigger and better deals. But there are some actions that actually hinder your buying power and cause you to overspend.

Here are five things you may be guilty of doing that prevent you from getting the best deal available.

1. Lack of Comparison Research

One of the biggest mistakes is not shopping around or doing research before making a purchase. Too many of us believe that the price displayed is the lowest available, but this isn't always the case. Sometimes stores will slash prices due to overstocked inventory, or a local region will be doing a promotion not offered anywhere else. It pays to take the time to research and comparison shop before making your final purchase.

2. Not Knowing Your Credit Score

Not knowing your credit score can greatly reduce how much your credit card limit will be, or how much you can apply for when taking out a personal loan. Your credit score is the most important number that financial institutions consider. In addition, you could qualify for a lower interest rate (or be stuck with a higher one) depending on your credit score. This could save (or cost) you hundreds of dollars in interest fees and charges.

3. Rushing Into a Buy

Consumers tend to spend more money when they need something in a hurry. Needing to buy something at the last minute isn't always avoidable, but strive to take your time, really evaluate whether or not you have to purchase this item right now, and wait for at least 24 hours to ensure you can find the best deal possible. Also abide by this 24-hour rule before buying something — if you forget about it the next day, it wasn't really worth buying in the first place.

4. Not Asking the Right Questions

As consumers, we often forget how a simple question can save us a good chunk of change. Much like price matching, simply negotiating for a better price will usually pay off. Sometimes stores will still take expired coupons, a cash payment for less instead of a card, or the manager may alert you to a holiday promotion coming up. Just ask.

5. Missing Out on Cash Back

Between cash back credit cards and cash back websites, there's no lack of opportunity for you to maximize your buying power by earning cash back on all your purchases. These simply allow you to get money back for doing the shopping you were already planning on doing. It's one extra step (going to the cash back site to go to the shopping site, or using the right credit card to make the purchase), but considering the savings, it's always worth it. The Chase Freedom card gives you 5% cash back at popular stores that rotate each quarter, and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card gives you unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases.

This article first appeared at Wise Bread.

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