Do your parents love getting a good bargain on something they needed to buy? A bargain can be defined as a purchase made at a price advantageous to the buyer. This usually means a low price, of course. In essence, a bargain is a “good deal."

Does a bargain mean you bought something on sale? Are all sales bargains? The answer to both questions is “not necessarily." Something doesn't have to be on sale to be a bargain. And, as you'll learn, not all sale items are bargains.

The companies that manufacture products and the retail stores that sell them want to make money. People that need or want these products want to spend as little money as possible. With these competing interests, it's easy to see why getting a good bargain isn't always easy.

If your parents take care of most of the shopping in your family, you may have never given much thought to how to be a savvy — that's a fancy word for “smart" — shopper. Learning how to manage your money wisely, though, is an important lesson for all kids to learn.

Once you start to work to earn money, you'll realize that work is exactly what it sounds like…hard work! You'll want to keep as much of your money as you can, while also satisfying all your needs and as many of your wants as possible. The best way to do that is to learn how to be a smart shopper.

Here are a few simple ways you can be a savvy shopper. Use these ideas to help your parents whenever you go shopping with them:

  • Price: If you want to save money, then an item's price should obviously be a big factor. If there are no other factors to consider or if all other factors are equal, then going with the cheapest item usually makes sense. While price is usually an important factor, there are often other things to consider.
  • Quantity: How much of a product do you need? Smaller quantities are usually cheaper, but our “Try it out!" explains how you can save money by buying larger quantities, since manufacturers often offer better deals on larger quantities (buying “in bulk"). Just realistically evaluate how much of a product you need. If you waste or don't use part of your purchases, you won't end up saving any money by buying larger quantities.
  • Quality: In addition to quantity, you should always consider quality. To the extent that quality is a matter of opinion, it might help to think of quality in terms of preference instead. For example, generic products are often just as good as brand-name products, and they're usually much cheaper. However, if you've had a bad experience with a product or really prefer the taste of a particular food product, then it's probably best to go with what you prefer, even if it's a bit more expensive.
  • Discounts: When shopping for an item, keep an eye out for discounts, such as coupons, in-store specials, sales and rebates. Don't assume that sale items are good bargains, though. Do your research and make sure that items “on sale" can't be purchased cheaper at other stores or online.

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