- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
Bargain Hunting in this economy
Saving money while you shop
These days our money needs to go a long ways, whether it is for basic living expenses, or for entertainment and other luxuries.
I alway try to look for a deal, and these are some of the ways I do.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and if there is something you do that I have missed, please comment so we can all save.
Thanks for looking at my hub.
Dollar or Discount Stores
It seems like dollar stores and other various discount stores are becoming a common retailer in most areas. Can these discount stores really offer you a bargain or do they just sell poor quality items? In my opinion, there are plenty of gear bargains to be found in dollar stores and discount stores if you look for the right items.
I give lots of cards to people, but they can cost $3 each at most retailers. I can find some great cards at discount stores for about $.50 each. They are still funny or pretty or sentimental in nature and I never feel like I had to settle for less than what I wanted to say.
Disposable items for a party are a great deal at discount stores. The cost of napkins, paper plates, cups, silverware, invitations, and tablecloths can really add up fast. Wrapping paper and gift bags are another area of party items that can be found for a good price at discount stores.
I wouldn’t recommend going into discount stores and buying gifts for your family members or friends, but there are some good items in there. I personally enjoy buying picture frames from discount stores because they look just as nice. However, I would feel bad giving picture frames from these stores as gifts. For example I bought a very nice set of three frames from a discount store recently. They look like glass and make a beautiful display on my dresser. Yet when you pick them up you can quickly tell they are made from lightweight plastic.
Most discount stores have plenty of toys for children, but remember that children are very hard on toys. They will be very disappointed when the head pops off the doll or the tires fall of the car. I wouldn’t recommend buying such toys from a discount store as the quality just isn’t there.
Yet there are plenty of fun children’s toys you can get from a discount store including cards, marbles, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and coloring books. These all make great items for stocking stuffers or even for traveling to make the trip go by faster. I like to bring bubbles for when we stop at a rest area as an incentive to get them to treat each other with respect while we are on the road. Simple, but it works well every time!
There are also plenty of items at discount stores that you can use to decorate your home. I refuse to pay $35 for a shower curtain! It just isn’t going to happen. I always get them at the dollar store for just a couple of dollars. They last a very long time and they were well. I have not problem at all when the time comes to replace it. I have also found neat soap dishes and wall hangings for my bathroom at discount stores.
Office supplies are something most of us use on a regular basis. You can get them for a very good price at discount stores. Notebooks, paper, pens, glue, rulers, scissors, calculators, and envelopes can all be found for a really good price. I have never had any problems with the quality of such items. They are very comparable to those I buy at other retail stores for much more money.
I think when it comes to finding bargains at discount stores there are some to be found. It is important that you don’t have too high of expectations when it comes to the quality of the items. Yet in most of the cases relating the different items I have described above, the quality doesn’t have to be exceptional. They will work to serve the purpose without costing you a fortune. This makes party planning much more fun when you know you have the budget to cover it all. If you don’t shop at discount stores you are really missing out on some great bargains!
Bargains from Amazon
Don’t Pass up the Value of using Coupons
Most retailers understand the amount of competition they have out there, especially in larger towns. To help encourage customers to remain loyal to them they accept coupons for various products. One of the best uses of coupons is for purchasing grocery items you already use. Look for stores that offer you double or triple the face value of the coupon. Some stores only offer double and triple coupon values on specific days of the week so make sure you take advantage of them if at all possible. You will be amazed at how quickly this type of coupon system can help you slash your grocery bill.
It is very important that you make sure the store isn’t inflating the prices on their items though because if they do you won’t save much with the coupons. Don’t be tempted to use a bunch of coupons in items you don’t normally use though or your grocery bill may end up increasing!
You can get coupons from magazines and newspaper ads. Pay close attention the to the expiration dates on them as well. If you have access to the internet go to the sites for the products you use. Many of them offer coupons that they will mail to you or that you can print at home. If these sites offer an opt in list for you to get promotions and coupons by e-mail then take advantage of it.
Some retail stores that welcome coupons offer a counter where you can take your unwanted coupons for other people to use. At the same time you are welcome to pick up various coupons others have left to make your own purchases. There are great coupon organizers that you can use like a mini filing system. You can categorize the coupons by the listed areas as well as create some of your own categories. This will reduce the amount of time you spent going through them while you are shopping.
Many retailers are more than willing to honor the coupons for a competitor so that you will purchase the item from them instead of the other store. The best way to approach this issue is to take the coupon into the store with you. Ask to speak to a manager and explain that you really want to make the purchase from them but that the other store offers a much better price. In most cases they will at least match the price of the competition. Other retailers will even beat the price to encourage you to remain a loyal customer of theirs.
Any time you plan to visit a museum, amusement park, or other activity check to see if there are coupons offered anywhere. Many times you will find buy 1 get 1 free coupons for such outings and that can be a great savings for your trip. You can usually find this out by looking online or calling the chamber of commerce in the area of the event. Online auctions like Yahoo! Auctions and eBay offer you plenty of opportunities to take advantage of discount coupons that others are selling as well.
Restaurants often offer discount coupons to get people to come in and eat. You do need to pay close attention to the details of the coupon though. Many of them will have specific days of the week they can be used. Some of them also have a set time frame where they can’t be used after 4 pm or something similar.
If you take the time to seek out coupons for items you will already spend money on then you can get the rewards of spending less while still getting all the things your family needs. You may think it is silly using a $.75 cent coupon here or a $2.00 coupon there but it will really start to add up over time. When you consider the amount of money you spent on groceries, eating out, and entertainment for a whole year those coupons really start to sound good!
Bargains are waiting to be found at Flea Markets
I love to spend hours looking at flea markets for different items. Different vendors set up their products in a central location so that consumers can spend their time walking around and see the new and used items available for sale. You never know what you will come across at a flea market. There are plenty of new and used items as well as home made crafts and clothing to choose from.
To help make your day at the flea market the best it can be plan for the day. Most flea markets are outdoors so you may want some sunscreen and a hat. Others are inside so make sure you find out ahead of time. You don’t want to spend the day carrying around the items you purchased so make sure you take along a bag or a cart. There are some very inexpensive carts that fold up and fit into the trunk of your car.
Make sure you wear good walking shoes too so you won’t have to end your daily early due to tired feet. A good tip to help if you do get tired walking is to walk to the very end of the vendors and work your way forward. This way you will have the heaviest load from items you have purchased when you are nearest your vehicle. Keep in mind that most people start at the entrance of the flea market so if you start at the back you will be able to see many items before too many other people do.
Most flea markets are offered on the weekends but some of them do take place on weekdays as well. The number of other people looking around is generally lower during the week but then so is the number of vendors. It is really a toss up about when is the best time of day to make a deal at a flea market. It is perfectly acceptable to try to get the price lowered down from what the vendor is asking for it.
By going to a flea market first thing in the morning you are likely to be able to take advantage of the selection before everyone else has. This is the best solution if there are particular items you are interested in finding. Yet many people claim they have a harder time getting the seller to negotiate the prices when they purchase early in the morning.
By the end of the day though most vendors are very willing to lower the prices on the items they have remaining. They definitely don’t want to have to pack up any more stuff at the end of the day than they absolutely have to. If you have a particular item in mind and you can wait until the end of the day you will get a better price. You also run the risk of someone else snatching it up though if it is a one of a kind item.
There are different ways to negotiate the price of any given item. You can ask the vendor what the lowest price is that they will take for a given it. You can also offer to pay a certain price and see if they will take you up on the offer. If you want to offer $10 then have that money in your hand for them to see. Seeing the money will often entice them to take the money.
I have found it is always worth my time to look around though because I may find the vendor in the next aisle has the same item for $10 less. If I am going to go back to check on an item with a particular vendor I write down their location because by the end of the day it can be difficult to remember who is located where.
Buying in Bulk at Discount Clubs
Do you Really Save Money if you Purchase Items in Bulk?
With the continued cost of various items in our society the concept of buying in bulk is getting to be more common that ever. Yet many people question if they are really saving money or not. The answer to this question that yes you will save money when you purchase the right items in bulk. For example you really don’t need to purchase a case of 200 light bulbs as that will last you for many, many years. On the other hand if you have a fairy large family or lots of guests on a regular basis you might consider buying toilet paper and paper towels in bulk.
Any item that you will use up in a short period of time is a good candidate for being purchased in bulk. There are many membership warehouses that offer bulk items that focus on families and small businesses. Dry ingredients for your home including sugar and flour are good options. Avoid buying bulk items that will result in eating the same thing day after day though as no one wants to have to do this. For example, don’t buy snacks and potato chips in bulk because everyone in your family will quickly tire of the taste.
If you find that such items like that are a good deal but more than you reasonably need, consider buying bulk items with another family. This way you can share the items and the expense. It is good idea to take the other party shopping with you so that everyone gets a fair say in what items will be purchased. You may need to be willing to try new brands of items to make this work. If the other party already uses that brand ask them to give you a sample. If you want them to consider your brand then offer them a sample of it to try as well.
Meat is probably the best item you can buy in bulk to save money. This will likely involve investing in a freezer that can be kept in your garage or basement to store the meat in. You can purchase a whole beef, ½ a beef, or even a quarter of beef. Bulk meats of bacon and pork from pigs are also a good option. Once again you may want to consider sharing the products and the cost with a friend or relative.
Canned goods last a very long time so you can purchase them in bulk and not have to worry about them spoiling. Some good choices are soups, canned vegetables, and various sauces that you will use for cooking. Babies are quite expensive as anyone with them can attest to. Buying diapers, baby food, and baby formula in bulk are all good ways to save money on those necessities. And finally, let’s not forget about the expense relating to feeding our pets. If you use dry cat or dog food then buying it in bulk may be a good option for you.
Most people don’t change the type of laundry detergent or cleaning supplies they use very often. You can purchase these items in bulk and save plenty of money. Most of the time they will come in larger bottles that you can pour into smaller spray bottles. Make sure you have a cool dry place to store the remaining cleaning supplies that are out of the reach of children.
To ensure you are really getting a good deal on bulk items, take the time to read the information relating to the cost of the item per unit. This way you can compare that price with the overall cost. In most cases you will be able to find some really good deals that save you money. On the other hand don’t be so quick to pick up that big package of what ever you are looking at without finding out how much each item is really costing you. Manufacturers have gotten very good at selling items on concept and package designs rather than pricing.
Find Great Items at a Low Price by Going to Yard and Garage Sales
The saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is one that we all find to be very true at one time or another. Many people clear out their unwanted items and then have a yard or garage sale. This is a great place to find items you want and need at bargain prices.
If you don’t like the price on any given item at these sales you can ask them to lower it. Negotiating the selling price is a common practice for yard and garage sales. Should the seller not be willing to lower the price you can always ask them to take down your phone number and call you if the item doesn’t sale for the price they want. You will find most people are willing to lower the price rather than risk the item having to be carried back inside or stored if it doesn’t sale at the end of the day.
When it comes to yard and garage sales, you will find you have the best luck if you start out early in the morning. Take the time to read through the ads in your local newspaper. It can be fun to map our a route of yard and garage sales you want to hit with a friend or even as a way to spend some time by yourself. This strategy will prevent you from constantly back tracking.
The items you will find at a yard or garage sale will vary but some common items include clothing, furniture, baby items, kitchen item, art, tools, toys, bikes, and even vehicles. If you are looking for something in particular then search out ads that have those specific items.
Since babies outgrow clothes and items like car seats and basinets quickly they are often in excellent shape. Career clothes are very expensive and you can find a wonderful selection of quality work clothes for both men and women at yard and garage sales. I have come across ladies business suites that still had the tags on them! The down side to purchasing clothing at yard and garage sales is that you can’t try them on first to make sure they fit. However, I figure if I am picking up a $60 skirt and blazer set for $2.50 I will take my chances!
If you are looking for furniture then target the ads that describe and estate sale or a moving sale. In most cases they will be trying to sell all they can to prevent having to pack it up and move it with them or pay to place it into storage. You can generally even get them to assist you with loading the items you purchase or delivering them if you can negotiate the right deal. In most cases if you pay for an item the seller will be happy to allow you to come back later to pick it up if you need to.
Clothing, household items, jewelry, and baby items are often expensive you pay retail price for them. You can get a great bargain if you get up early and go to yard and garage sales. Make sure you head out early and you have single bills and plenty of change. Then go have sun seeking the items you are after. If you are like me, there will be plenty that catches your eye that you decide you want just because you can’t pass up the great price for it.
Today, I picked up a window air conditioner at a garage sale. The lady said that it worked, but that maybe it needed freon. It was really dirty. She asked $5.00 for it. I took it home, hosed it off and cleaned the filter. It works perfect. I saw the same airconditioner used at a local used appliance store for $50 bucks so I am cool and happy.
Find Great Bargains at Pawn Shops
At one time or another most of us have experienced wanting to purchase something but it just wasn’t in our budget to do so. In most cases these items weren’t necessities but luxuries we definitely would have loved to own. One place to find great bargains on the items you want without spending a fortune is your local pawn shops.
A pawn shop is a place where individuals can take their items and exchange them for cash. They have a set period of time that the items will be kept. They have to repay the amount they got for the items along with a percentage that varies by state and local regulations.
If an individual takes their items to a pawn shop and doesn’t return to pick them up by that deadline, then the owner of the pawnshop has the legal right to sell the items to the public. Since the items in any given pawnshop will vary at any given time, you will want to frequent them often.
Some of the more common items found in any pawn shop include guns, televisions, VCR’s, DVD players, video game consoles and games, furniture, cameras, tools, stereos, jewelry, and music. If you are looking for a specific item you can let the owner of the pawn shop know. Most of them are kind enough to give you a call should that particular item fall into their hands for resale.
The majority of items found in a pawn shop are in very good condition. Most of the individuals who take their items into a pawn shop are desperate for money so they trade in items they generally would have been using for the cash they need. While many people do return to pick up their items, there is a high percent that just don’t have the money to do so. Others have no intention from the moment they step into the pawn shop to return to pick up the items they brought in.
Pawn shop owners have a legal obligation to get information from individuals who bring items in. This is to verify who they are and to track them down should the items they brought in be stolen goods. For the most part you won’t have any trouble with the items you purchase from a pawn shop. Many of them also ask for the name and contact information of anyone who buys items just in case any issues do arise.
Should you be interested in purchasing a firearm from a pawn shop you need to be prepared to complete the same paperwork and process as you would to purchase a new gun. Most states have a mandatory waiting period for purchasing guns, and any pawn shop that sells them has to follow the same rules.
Regardless of what you are looking for, don’t forget to take a look at what is for sale at your local pawn shops. You will be amazed at the bargains you find there. Most of them have a very good selection of items that changes frequently. You will also save plenty of money buying these items over the retail cost of them. You do need to carefully inspect all items though because many pawn shops offer no warranty, and often those that do have very short warranty period.
Ebay and Craigslist
Often, when I need an item, the first place I will look is on ebay or Craigslist.
Some thing are very good values. I needed a new cellphone recently after a unplanned fall in the water. I pulled up craigslist and did a search for the phone I wanted. I found a seller who had one who was looking for $50 bucks for the item. A quick check with my cell phone company told me that a similar phone with them was $249. I would say the phone from Craigslist was a deal.
I also like to use Ebay to buy cell phone accessories. The same phone case at the mall for 25 bucks is usually on Ebay for $3.00 to $4.00.
You can buy almost anything on Ebay, but when buying make sure to do your research. Know exactly what it is that you are bidding on, and how much the shipping is. On many smaller items you can find them with free shipping.