By popular demand and the request of a dear friend, I offer you a quick and easy post on:
For me, most of my money "saving" tips revolve around coupons and promotional sales . . . and a healthy love-relationship with retail stores. I'm going to be blunt and say that if you do not enjoy browsing retail stores, you probably aren't going to find my savvy shopping tips fun, practical, or effective. However, if you do love shopping, hang on tight!
You're in for a wild ride.
1. My first tip is to COMPARISON SHOP. Now, make note that I am not talking about driving to three different grocery stores to buy items to stock your pantry. Remember: we're talking about shopping retail (I don't cook much, so I have very few grocery shopping tips). What I do mean by COMPARISON SHOP is that WalMart is not always the cheapest place to buy your clothes, household items, etc. Call me snobby, but I really like brand names, and they don't have to be any more expensive than store brands. If you get out and about enough, you'll notice that sometimes specialty stores offer extraordinary sales and will honor coupons simultaneously (more later on that later).
*Take this real example from me. A few weeks ago, I was shopping for Jackson a few new clothing items. Most children's sweaters at WalMart and similar stores are about $10-12. Cheap, sure. However, not nearly as cheap as Gymboree! What, you are asking? I say, shop the clearance racks! I purchased Jackson a sweater at Gymboree for $3.84. How? The originally $24.95 sweater was on clearance for $11.99 with an additional 60% off (they actually do this quite often). That brought the price down to $4.80. However, I brought along an Additional 20% off coupon making the adorable outerwear only $3.84. Much cheaper. Much cuter. Much better quality than WalMart.
Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I purchased anything that wasn't on sale . . . and usually, on clearance! Oh yeah . . . and I have a lot of clothes!
2. Tip number two is HIT THE OUTLETS. This suggestion is even easier than tip #1. Outlet malls often run additional sales as well . . . you just have to actually enter the store to find out about them.
*Another virtually sickening example from last week. Justin and I went to the Hagerstown Outlets. There is a Coach Factory Outlet at this particular outlet mall. I went into the store just to browse a moment while Justin sat in the "man seat." When I walked in, the sales clerk handed me a coupon for an Additional 30% off any purchase. So, I headed to the clearance rack. There, I found a Coach Poppy bag that was originally $159.00. It was on clearance for $147.99 (not much off). However, the clearance rack was TAKE AN ADDITIONAL 50% off . . . now that purse is $73.99. But wait! I also have that 30% off coupon. Grand Total: $51.79 for a Coach purse! Not too shabby considering almost any purse costs that much now days.
3. My third shopping tip is DON'T BE AFRAID OF A LITTLE "Extreme Couponing." I owe my sister-in-law a little credit for this awesome avenue. Last time Marney was visiting, she suggested I watch several videos on "Extreme Couponing" because I LOVE to bargain shop (obviously). I thought the concept was interesting, but it involved rounding up multiple circular ads, driving to multiple stores for the same items, and buying things you sometimes don't need but "might use later." What I loved about "Extreme Couponing," however, was that I could adapt it to suit my needs. Basically, I only collect coupons when they are for items I actually buy at stores I frequently shop at--WalMart, Target, CVS, etc. I never hunt down a specific coupon or monitor the internet for running sales. What I do instead is time my purchases with coupons wisely when I see them. Again, I never go searching.
*Tonight's example (follow closely...lots of saving is involved). I was in Target tonight when I noticed that the HUGE Huggies diapers packs were on special. These packs are usually $29.99/each. However, tonight if you purchased two packs, you received a $10.00 Target giftcard. So, I dug into my wallet for coupons. This is what I found-- $3.00 off a 100+ diaper box, another $3.00 off a 100+ diaper box (remember, I'm buying two), $2.00 off any two Huggies diapers packs, and $1.00 off instant savings (found on one of the boxes I was purchasing). That's $9.00 off in coupons, plus a $10.00 giftcard. Total Savings: $19.00. That translates to a free mega box of Huggies diapers once these run out! Sweet!
4. Last but not least, is THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. I know I've spoken a lot about specialty stores like Gymboree and Coach, but that doesn't mean that I don't frequently shop at thrift stores as well. I mean Blue Ridge Hospice, The Salvation Army, and Goodwill, baby! There is very little that makes me happier than finding special deals at thrift stores! And this is coming from a girl who used to hide in her mother's floorboard in the Goodwill parking lot when she was in Middle School.
*My final example occured back in February and is uber simple. I was hosting my friend Serena's baby shower (she's the one who asked me to write this post). I needed a punch bowl for the pink punch I was making. However, the thought of wasting $6.99 for a plastic punch bowl and another $2.99 for a plastic ladle made me cringe. Not only would they both be cheap looking and ugly, but they would really only be "good" for one use. So, I hit the thrift stores. The Salvation Army runs sales every day on different items(yes, I know this). So, I patronized on a 30% off Bric-A-Brac day. I found a dazzling crystal punch bowl, ladle, and 12 crystal glasses for $3.00. And . . . with 30% off . . . that's only $2.10. I saved $8.00 and my punch bowl was a big (and beautiful) hit at the party!
Case in point, take my tips or leave them. But . . . ask yourself this question . . . who else could walk away with a Gymboree sweater, a Coach purse, 208 Huggies diapers, a crystal punch bowl, ladel, and 12 crystal glasses for $98.73?
Happy Savvy Shopping!