The following is a guest post by Lisa at Thriftability, a personal finance blog dedicated to frugal lifestyles, eco-friendly ways to save money, and becoming financially independent.
Shop Along With Me: The Thrifty Shopper
If you love to shop, and you love saving money, then you and I have a lot in common! Being a thrifty shopper has more to do with being aware of when certain items go on sale, where to find the best clearance goods, and knowing what’s really a deal – or not. Read on to discover the tactics I use in order to make my money last longer and find terrific bargains on just about everything.
End Caps and Clearance Sections
No matter what I’m shopping for, immediately upon entering a retail store I head for the clearance racks and shop the perimeter of the store on the clearance end caps. I do this prior to looking at any full-price item, because (as any dedicated shopper knows) there are sometimes too many shiny things that will catch my eye, driving me off course! Aside from the shiny things that might divert my attention elsewhere, I like to keep in mind that I may find a suitable item in the clearance area which will be doable in replacing the items I originally came looking for. If I’m in full-on-power-shopper-mode, I make the round of each clearance section in the store first and foremost before tackling my original list. Is this a frugal plan of attack? It can be, if I keep in mind A.) My budget B.) The needs of my family (clothing sizes, what items they’ve outgrown) and C.) Avoid impulse buying. However, I have saved money over and over again by stocking up on personal care items, socks, underwear, seasonal clothing by using this method – so this is just what works for me.
‘Tis the Season
We’re all aware that post-Christmas clearance sales have some of the best discounts one could possibly hope for. In my book, and of season sales beat day-after-Christmas sales hands down. I like to save my money (including any gift cards I received over the holidays) to shop for myself right around the second week of February. This is when stores generally start inventory – and they’re more than willing to reduce prices (Up to 90%!) rather than count every item in the store during inventory. This is how I got my favorite Columbia winter jacket for just $42 – marked down from $165… shopping after any regularly scheduled holiday sale is anther great way to find good deals. For example, linens and towels usually go on sale around President’s Day. Shopping 1 ½-2 weeks after the holiday can mean deep discounts on items for the home. The two-week-period following Independence Day is great for stocking up on paper goods, and picnic items – as well as summer clothing as fall items are moved into place.
Close Outs and More
Walk down any aisle of your favorite discount store… look for the clearance tags posted to shelves directly under a clearance item, or price sticker on the item itself. These clearance items haven’t been moved to those back end caps or clearance aisles we discussed previously, most likely because there’s no room, or because an item has been discontinued for new labeling, etc. I’ve found great deals on items like TreSemme hair gel at Walmart, regular price $3.99, for just .75 cents, by cruising down the aisles. During the time I worked in retail, I was able to develop some friendly relationships with a few of the regular shoppers, who would ask me each week when specific items might be going on sale. It’s probably not ethical to give away this information (employee policy generally frowns upon it) but I understand economic restraints and I’m all for helping one another out. So taking the time to become friendly with the store clerks – and asking when sales might be happening – isn’t a bad idea at all!
Help A Sister Out!
Times have been tough – and looking out for one another during tight economic times is part of the fabric that holds Americans together. Keep your family, friends – and their families – in mind when you’re out shopping. All it takes is a quick text or call to say “Target has boys soccer cleats on clearance for $5.98 – want me to pick up a pair for Johnny?” Gratitude can go a long way when it comes back around and you are in need of a specific item. Here’s another way to help each other out… if you usually purchase certain items online by heading straight to the retailer’s web site, re-route your online shopping path and help out your favorite bloggers. Many of the websites you enjoy reading are supported by money earned as an affiliate for online stores. When I know that buying online is going to be my direct plan of attack to acquire something I really need, I first take a look at the main pages of some of the web sites or blogs I read every day. Clicking through that Target ad, or flashy Amazon link can help your favorite blogger keep the lights on – so supporting them in their venture is always much appreciated!
Overall, good deals and fantastic clearance prices are available year-round as long as you’re willing to devote the time and energy necessary to finding those deals. Keep birthdays and special events in mind while clearance shopping too – repurposing items for gift giving is an excellent way to save money!
What are your best tips for bargain hunting or clearance shopping? Share them with us here!