Shopping on a budget is not difficult with a little bit of knowledge on the consumer side. Incorporating any of the following methods is a great way to save money on essentials like clothing, food, and appliances. Some people might say shopping at consignment shops or thrift stores is inherently cheap, but in reality, the payoff can be huge, and it adds up fast. Many thrift shops offer the same barely used brand names for fractions of the original price, and no one knows the difference when the purchaser puts in on. But there are certain tricks to know to come out of each budget shopping situation on top.
Sales & Coupons
Sales are one of the best ways to save money because consumers just have to look out for them once they are in the store. Many major grocers offer sales on new products or on specific brands they want people to pick up and try. However, it is necessary to come in with a little bit of background knowledge, as many companies know individuals can’t resist a sale and will advertise one without marking down their products, so it is important to double-check regular prices for similar products.
Coupons are a little trickier than sales because they usually require a physical copy. The easiest way to find coupons is first to go on the internet. Search for a retailer followed by the search term “printable coupons.” If that doesn’t work, there are many other ways to come across coupons. Many stores offer printouts with free coupons at the front of their store and just require a simple clip and scan at the register. Also, loyal customers can sign up for free store cards for stores they frequent and receive many notifications for sales & coupons either in the mail or right on their card.
There are many different thrift stores out there, and a lot of them offer really well-priced merchandise because they get it all from donations. When shopping for clothing, be sure to check the three 'S's: seams, stains, and sweat. These are common pain points for customers shopping for used clothing. Seams can be ripped, creating unsightly holes, stains can be present, and sweat can cause the dreaded underarm yellowing. Luckily a quick look over can prevent a customer from walking away with a damaged purchase.
At a thrift shop, it is completely okay to open the box and make sure the contents are all there. Another great option to consider is negotiating with the shop owner for a discount when buying multiple items, as some shops will offer a percentage off.
Consignment shops are the cousins of the thrift store. Things here get a little pricier, but they also are typically a little better quality. Since the owner of the item got some money back for the item, the consignment shop owner is probably less likely to mark down their merchandise or offer sales on the spot. They have to get the money they gave the original owner back. That being said, the rules are pretty much the same as a thrift store. Nothing costing money should be damaged, so it is critical to check for unwanted scuffs and stains.
When buying electronic devices, ask first to plug them in to make sure they work and for clothing, simply try it on. Most stores will offer a changing area for people who want to make sure the outfit works together before they buy it and fits well. Keep in mind the overall cost should be fifty percent or less of what the product would cost new. This means a brand-new jacket of any expensive brand could still run up a large sum, but should be significantly less than the in-store price of the same jacket.
Markets can offer a different feel than shops, and here, bargaining with the owner, within reason, is generally acceptable. For clothing, offer them seventy percent of the asking price first and see what they come back with. If they do not go any lower, assume this means they are not interested in bargaining. If they reduce the price a little, try to make them go a little lower, as if a sales associate is interested in bargaining they typically have their lowest price in mind.
In general for food markets, the asking price is acceptable. Local farms try to give fair prices, and the produce is generally of better quality than when it's from a grocery store. When buying a lot of produce, it is okay to ask for a few dollars off the final price, and the typical response will get an immediate yes or no answer, which you can then use to determine whether or not you want to buy. Whether bargain shopping or going by the marked price, it is crucial to always be respectful of the shop owners within the market. They are not a giant retailer and therefore can’t always offer an extraordinary discount.
Various online retailers have made names for themselves in the discount category, but in general, the first thing to do is look to the clearance or sale section of any website, as many will offer great deals. Additionally, when shopping on the web, pay special attention to the shipping and try to find deals.
Shipping is the biggest money suck of online shopping. For example, a shirt that costs ten dollars might actually cost sixteen with ground shipping. A good way to avoid this issue is to buy all from one retailer, as they usually waive the shipping price once the price is over a certain amount. It is also an option to fall back to couponing skills and find one for free shipping. When searching for bargains on common items, compare the same product on multiple websites before deciding which one to buy.