Skip to content

7 "Money-Saving" Shopping Hacks That Can Cost You Big

These tips and tricks could have you spending more than you would have otherwise.

In today's economy, every penny counts—so it's no surprise that we'll try anything to save money when shopping. But not all the tips and tricks out there are worth it. In fact, some of the most popular cost-cutting measures being promoted to consumers may end up making you spend more money than you would have otherwise. Talking to different experts, we gathered insight on all the fake frugal techniques you should skip if you want to spend less. Read on to discover seven "money-saving" shopping hacks that could cost you big.

RELATED: These Are the Products You "Need to Stop Buying" at Dollar Tree, Shopper Says.

Shopping in incognito mode

FreshSplash / iStock

It's widely believed that online shoppers get targeted by their algorithms and shown higher prices on certain products than others. Experts say this is an urban myth, but it's worse than that: Dan Dillon, founder and chairman of the e-commerce platform CleanItSupply, tells Best Life that this belief can negatively impact consumers who think they'll get better deals by switching their browser to private or incognito mode.

"This can work against you as some sites offer exclusive discounts to returning customers—an element lost in incognito mode," he cautions.

Using credit cards to earn rewards

paying with credit card
Taras Grebinets / Shutterstock

Building up points while you shop can seem like a no-brainer way to benefit from your spending. But Michael Ashley, finance expert and founder of, warns that using credit cards for small purchases to earn rewards is one of the easiest overspending traps consumers fall for.

"People tend to underestimate the amount they spend when using plastic instead of cash, leading to higher credit card balances and potentially accruing interest," he explains.

Not only that, but Allen warns that the "lure of rewards" can also lead to impulse buying.

"This ends up canceling out any benefits from the rewards program," he points out. "Despite this, credit card companies promote this practice to increase card usage and potentially charge interest on balances."

RELATED: Never Use Your Credit Card for These 6 Purchases, According to Financial Experts.

Trying to DIY or upcycle everything

Female craftsmen use tape measure to assemble wooden pieces. Professional carpenter at work measuring wooden planks.

While it's often assumed that DIY-ing or upcycling is a cost-saving measure, David Kemmerer, finance expert and CEO of CoinLedger, says this life hack can easily end up costing you more money than just buying the product you wanted in the first place.

"I know lots of crafters who have spent tons of money on supplies and items to upcycle, only to never get around to them, or [they] end up spending lots of money on restoration only to have the item not work how they wanted it, or not to sell as intended," Kemmerer explains.

Blindly buying discounted or clearance items

clearance sign at clothing store
christinarosepix / Shutterstock

The clearance section at any store is sure to attract shoppers looking to save money. But shoppers sometimes throw away money by blindly buying discounted products because they're not paying attention to the quality, according to Ashley.

"Items marked down due to defects or nearing expiration may require repairs or replacements sooner, negating any initial savings," he warns. "Retailers promote clearance sales to clear out excess inventory and attract shoppers with the promise of steep discount."

RELATED: 8 Best Money-Saving Secrets of HomeGoods.

Always shopping for the lowest price

woman looking at prices while shopping

Similarly, Ashley says shoppers looking to spend less often assume that buying the lowest-priced product is the most cost-effective choice. But while it might seem so at first glance, this can end up costing you big in the long-run.

"These low-cost items often have a shorter lifespan and need frequent replacement," he shares. "Still most retailers promote these cheaper alternatives to appeal to budget-conscious shoppers, despite the potential long-term financial consequences compared to investing in higher-quality items upfront."

Buying everything in bulk

Various type of food for sale in Costco Wholesale . Members-only warehouse selling a huge variety of items including bulk groceries, electronics & more.

Stores like Costco and Sam's Club can really make a difference for shoppers, because they offer a multitude of products in bulk for an lower individual cost overall. But if you don't have a reason to buy things in bulk, Abid Salahi, personal finance expert and co-founder of the financial literacy organization Finlywealth, says you shouldn't.

"Bulk purchases can be economical—but only if you have a realistic plan to consume or use the items before they expire or become obsolete," he advises. "Otherwise, you may be wasting money on excess inventory that may go to waste."

Ignoring the true cost of "free" shipping

Man receiving a package at home and getting a notification on his cell phone

A lot of shoppers will fixate on free shipping offers without realizing they "often have hidden costs that consumers overlook," according to Ashley.

"Retailers may inflate product prices or require a minimum purchase amount to qualify for free shipping, leading shoppers to spend more than they initially intended," he notes.

And if you want to get your items sooner, you may still end up having to pay additional fees for expedited shipping, which can further add to how much you're spending.

"Despite these hidden costs, retailers promote free shipping as a way to attract customers and encourage larger purchases," Ashley says.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
Filed Under