Jeanette Pavini, savings expert at Coupons.com, is a two-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist and consumer reporter for CBS in San Francisco who is drawing on that experience to help people save money by implementing practical changes in spending.
“I’m fascinated by consumer behavior,” she said. “People can be obsessive about buying things, and they can also obsess about saving money.”
At Coupons.com, Pavini has developed “simple tactics” that can be used by anyone to help curb debt and save money. Pavini also told WWD that consumers often overuse credit, which is due to people not fully understanding the difference between purchases that are “wants” versus “needs.”
Pavini described fashion apparel, for example, as a “want” when compared to food and shelter, which are necessities. But that doesn’t mean people should do without “wants.” Instead, Pavini said consumers need to spend more time balancing their household budgets while shifting how they spend their money.
“It’s about cutting back on needs to get the things you want,” Pavini said adding that reducing expenditures on dining out, drinking $5 lattes and buying unnecessary personal care products while engaging in deal-seeking and couponing on purchases leads to saving money for the things consumers want.
“Brown bagging, for example, is one way to save a lot of money,” she said. Pavini said spending $12 a day to buy lunch as well as $5 or $8 for buying snacks and drinks can total $20 or more a day. That adds up to $100 a week, or $5,200 a year. “And that’s a lot of money.”
This compares to taking lunch from home, which can cost about $20 to $30 a week, or about $1,500 a year. Pavini recommends setting goals for specific “wants” and saving for it while not using credit cards to make that purchase.
Pavini noted that Millennials, in particular, are in a good position to be more thoughtful about purchases. “They are more aware about spending, so they tend to be more frugal. And they are more adept with technology and using cost-saving apps. Saving money is a part of the norm for them.”
A recent Coupons.com/Bovitz Millennial Report, which had a survey sample of more than 1,300 consumers who had “at least some financial responsibility for themselves or their household,” found that Millennials invest time researching their purchases.
The survey showed that 68 percent of Millennials “conduct research prior to making grocery purchases” while 64 percent did research before buying apparel. Within the beauty and personal care segment, 70 percent conducted prior research.
Price is also key, according to the survey, which found that more than “two-thirds check their budgets before making a purchase” while 80 percent said “they’re constantly looking for the best prices.”
And when it comes to household spending plans, which is one of Pavini’s top suggestions to save and manage money, 69 percent of Millennials maintain a budget. And almost 50 percent of those said they were “checking their budgets multiple times a week.”
In regard to where consumers expect to find savings and deals, Pavini said “everywhere.” She also noted that even higher-income households are active deal seekers. Indeed, the top coupon codes on Coupons.com include deals from Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Tory Burch.