Many moons ago, shopping around for the best deals was a laborious task. As a little girl, I used to accompany my grandpa on his bargain excursions. Mind you, this was about 30 years ago when online shopping didn’t exist. Comparison shopping meant a small pad of paper, pencil, a full tank of gas and a lot of determination. My grandpa had this nailed down to a science. I remember when he bought the Intellivision. Only a few stores had this game console for sale. He visited each store, took the small pad of paper out of his shirt pocket, wrote down the price and proceeded to the next store. This is what he did for big ticket items. When all was said and done, he went to the store offering the best price and made his purchase.
I have followed in his footsteps. Thanks to modern technology, I no longer spend hours going from store to store. In fact, most of my shopping is done online. Over the years I’ve honed up on my bargain shopping skills. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that saving time and money isn’t as tedious as you think. A few pointers to get you started…
1. Any bargain shopper will tell you to buy off season. Shopping for a winter coat is probably the last thing on your mind to shop for now. However, spring is the best time to buy winter apparel and footwear. In the past couple of months, I’ve seen kids winter coats marked down to $3 and women’s slashed to only $6. Retailers want to get rid of these items to make room for the upcoming season. Start browsing the clearance pages at Cabela’s or Kohls around March and you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you need to restock your summer wardrobe, wait until the fall where you can grab these items for up to 75% off or more. The same goes for other seasonal items as well including patio furniture, grills, and most lawn and garden merchandise. Home Depot is famous for this. I bought a patio set a few years ago in September and saved over $500.
2. Save with coupons! There have been countless times where I have gone into a store to shop a sale and ended up going home to purchase the items online. I have my mother in the habit of doing this as well. Why? Two words…online coupons. Hundreds of retailers offer online only coupons. If I can order the same item online and save an extra 20% than I’m a happy girl. That adds up over time especially with big ticket items.
3. Us savvy bargain shoppers have a game that we like to play and it’s called waiting. This has also paid off. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for anything. Last November I was told that I could pick out my dream camera for Christmas. I was bursting at the seams. I did my research and found the one I wanted. It was priced at a little over $400. I knew that if I waited after the holidays to purchase, the price would go down. Sure enough, the end of January it was marked down to $269 and it came with a free camera case and SD card. Waiting an extra month saved me about $150 plus the cost of the case and card.
4. If you’ve got 5 stores that are your absolute favorite and you shop there often, get to know them. Pay attention to when they have their annual sales, when the clearance racks start filling up, etc. Sign up for their email newsletters. It’ll be a few extra emails in your inbox, but it’s well worth it. You’ll be informed of each sale before it happens and what items to shop for. If you’re an online shopper, you’ll enjoy the frequent coupons offered in these emails. These emails will be your greatest resource.
5. Connect with other savvy shoppers who share your passion for saving money. I’ve been a bargain shopper for 30 years now and I’m still learning. I am connected with hundreds of other like minded individuals. I am continously in awe with their creative methods of saving money and I’ve incorporated some of their techniques with mine.
6. One of the best things I’ve done over the years is convert to online shopping. I certainly don’t miss the long lines, traffic, and having to battle the outdoor elements. Stores don’t extend one day only sales when old man winter decides to blast us. With online shopping I can compare prices, do my research and find the best price with only a few clicks. I save gas money and a considerable amount of time…which is something I don’t have a lot of with my busy schedule. Plus, as mentioned earlier, I can use my online coupons for extra savings. I’ll also admit that being able to shop in the comfort of my home has it’s perks. Putting my feet up, making a fresh cup of coffee and shopping while still in my pajamas is a luxury.