Frugal Shopping Tips
Big Ticket Items
The larger the dollar amount of your purchase, the
more anxious stores and sales people are to make a deal with you. Always look
around, compare prices, and leave your name and phone number when asked. Don't
be in a rush, and you usually can save money.
Check the Middle of the Aisle
A lot of people walk
into the store, and don't have the time, or want to walk down every aisle.
Hence, they tend to buy items at the end or beginning of the row. Merchants will
often place higher priced items near the end of the row. Be sure and check the
middle of the row in each section for items with larger discounts.
Every store has a clearance section
that contains everything from dented to discontinued merchandise. These areas
are often hard to find. Often they are in the back corners of the store, behind
other merchandise. Be sure and find out where these areas are located in the
store where you shop. Remember that Christmas rolls around every year- and you
always need items for gifts. Also,
If you want to reign in your
spending, the easiest way to do it is to think of items you want to buy in terms
of time. Time is money...and money is time! Look at the price of the item. Then
calculate how many hours of work it would take for you to buy it. Let's say you
(or your spouse) have a job that pays $15 an hour. You are considering buying a
picture for your home that costs $90. Is that picture worth working 6 hours to
buy it? and that is not even calculating the net amount of money you receive.
This little touch of reality is a really good way to avoid frivolous buying.
Here's a "frugal index" for you.
How many disposable products do you use? The more you use, the less frugal you
are. Try and use the real thing when it comes to paper plates, razor blades,
Make it a point to visit heavily discounted
merchandise stores, such as The Dollar Store or Big Lots. on a regular basis.
The good ones have merchandise that is constantly changing, depending on the
deals they get. If you see an item you use with regularity, stock up - because
you may never see it there again.
Be sure and check out Ebay when you want to make
a purchase- even when it is a small thing like embroidery floss. You can usually
get more for your money on Ebay. After Christmas if a good time to find a lot of
items people received as gifts and don't want. I've found prices on items higher
during present buying time, but lower after Christmas. Just be sure and check
the feedback of the seller and follow all the safety rules of shopping on Ebay.
Some people hit garage sales at the earliest time
possible for the biggest selection of items. However, you will probably make the
best deals at the end of the day. When a garage sale is almost over, many people
are willing to almost give items away rather than not sell them. You may not
have as much selection, but if there is anything you want, it will probably be
If you go to a lot of weddings, think about coming up with one great present,
that you can purchase several of when they go on sale. Every time my husband
uses his cordless screw driver, a present from one of his sons, he says
"This is the greatest present I ever got."
"Lost Leader" Sales
Be sure and take advantage of
items heavily discounted at supermarkets and other stores- often called
"loss-leader items". They are heavily advertised, chosen to help you get into
the store, and they often runs out of them. Most stores do, however, have a rain
check policy. Most people don't want to bother, but take them time to fill out
the form so you can buy the item at the reduced price when the store has the
item in stock again. Some people even wait until the end of the sale and the
items are gone so that they can pick them up later.
One of the biggest ways to save money
on shopping day is to plan your week around the items listed for sale in your
store's circular, and the leftovers that you have in your refrigerator.
Try and buy only groceries at the supermarket.
Schedule a monthly or quarterly trip to a store like Walmart or Costco to pick
up household supplies. They are easily stored, and will be less expensive.
Everyone should keep a price book of the
items that they buy on a regular basis. By keeping a price book, you are able to
verify if an item is really on sale. Buy a small spiral notebook and keep it in
your purse. It is also a good idea to write down other information you often
wish you had with you when shopping- like the sizes of clothes and shoes of
family members, table sizes, replacement filter numbers, etc. Be prepared to
Here is a way to safely remove
stubborn price stickers from newly purchased items. Use a blow dryer. The heat
from the blow dryer should melt the glue. If that doesn't work, try putting some
baby oil on the sticker. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then see if it will rub
Be sure and keep the receipts, and I mean
ALL receipts, of everything that you buy, for at least 3 months. The strangest
items can give you problems, and you can't take them back without a receipt. It
doesn't take much any more time to put your receipts in shoe box than in the
trash. If you don't need them, you can just throw them away later. Should you
need them, they are there, and you have saved money. Also, many stores have a
policy that if an item goes on sale that you have purchased in the last 30 days,
they will refund the price difference.
Replacing Broken Merchandise
Be sure and save the
instruction sheets with phone numbers for the things you buy at hardware stores.
If something breaks, (with us it was a ceiling fixture that fell down) call the
manufacturer. They will often replace it for free. The hardware store will
charge you money.
Do your research before you buy a big ticket item. Go to
the library, and research brands in Consumer magazines. Select the item you want
with the features, price point, and reliability that you also want. Then go home
and call several stores that carry the model you want, and do a price
comparison. Some stores will match any competitor's price, even from a store
like Costco. In that case, buy your item from the store with the best service
Make good use of Scotchguard to protect your fabrics.
Buy a can, read the label, and see all the items you can protect with this
spray. Many items you buy are already protected with this product. Less
expensive items, like inexpensive sneakers, have not had it applied. Take the
time to spray them, and they will last longer. If you apply it to items that
will be washed, such as canvas shoes or pillow covers, remember that you must
spray them again after they are washed.
Senior Citizen Discounts
If you are over 55, always
ask at checkout counters if they offer a senior citizen discount. These
discounts are often available, even if limited to one day of the week. It is
embarrassing for tellers to ask if you are over 55, and most don't even bother.
Do not be afraid to buy items online. You can find
many items discounted on line, from pet products, to computers, books, and
music. There are some things I buy online that I wouldn't dream of buying from a
retail store. Two examples are books and music. I buy all my books at Amazon,
and I buy them used or from a discount dealer. My kids often ask for books for
Christmas or their birthdays, and they don't care if they are new or used. When
I want some music, I download it from Walmart. Do your homework on this one and
Store Discount Cards
Always sign up for store discount cards, not to
be confused with credit cards. You will be able to take advantage of store
specials. I carry most of the cards in my wallet, but a lot of stores will
just plug in your phone # and your card will come up.
You will find the best bargains in
thrift stores during the week. Weekend crowds snap them up. Most stores have
regularly scheduled deliveries. Find out when they are and when the new
merchandise is put out. Plan your shopping trips so that you hit these stores at
If available, be sure and join a discount
warehouse like Costco. When we first moved to Seattle, we were told we didn't
belong to any organizations that would allow us to join. However, all we had to
do was buy one share of stock, and we were llowed to join. Be sure and hold the
stock certificate yourself. If a brokerage holds it for you, they will charge
you a yearly fee- which will probably be more than the cost of the one share of
One thing to keep in mind shopping at Costco- they often have sales that are not
advertised. If you are making a big purchase, be sure and stop at the desk to
see what is on sale.
Before heading off to the mall or a major
retail store, check the websites of the stores where you plan to shop. See what
is on sale, and look to see if they have any advertised specials or coupons you
Extend the life of your address book by
writing the names in your address book in ink, but the addresses and phone
numbers in pencil. Most of the names will stay the same. Only the phone numbers
and addresses will change.
You can get a little bit more product out of your hair
spray and other aerosol cans by turning them upside down when they are nearly
When you buy a major appliance- that you know is going to
take a lot of energy to run, always check out the label as far as energy
consumption. MOST Energy Star Appliances will save you money, but sometimes the
difference is insignificant compared to the price. When it is practical, buy the
appliance with the Energy Star sticker.
Spend a few dollars and buy a battery
tester. There is always (or should be) life left in the batteries you take out
of your smoke alarm. They can be used elsewhere. The same may hold true for
other items. When the batteries no longer work in one item, test them to see if
they still have life, and if so, see if they will work in another item. Whenever
possible, think about using rechargeable batteries.
All thrift stores have a book section. and most
people sell books at garage sales. There are so many uses for books, in addition
to reading them. Look for books with nice pictures or lettering that you can use
with craft projects, such as decoupage. You can copy designs for your own
personal crafts, or just get inspired to make your own designs. Pictures of all
types can be framed for art in your home. Colorful pictures are also great to
wrap small presents.
So many people buy bottled water because they think
the water from their tap is not good drinking water. If you are going to go to
the expense of buying bottled water, at least be sure of what you are doing. In
our area it costs $15 to test your water for iron (usually caused by the
breakdown of galvanized pipes). Every item that you check for is an additional
expense, but it will be cost effective if you eliminate the need to drink
bottled water. You can find environmental agencies in every city that will run
these tests for you. Don't go to the expense of bottled water, when all you may
need is a filter for your tap to make the water taste batter.
If you can find the room, try and save the
good, boxes that are sent to you in the mail. It is hard to find boxes around
town now, as most stores have machines that crush them. Boxes are very expensive
at the UPS store. If you are moving and need lots of boxes, be sure and check
Craig's list in your area. Lots of people who have just moved are looking to
give away all their boxes, for free, if you will just pick them all up. You can
also check with local moving companies. They may have some used boxes they will
let you have for a minimal charge.
If you like beautiful china, think about buying it used. Find
a pattern that you absolutely love, and then go online and register with
"Replacement Patterns". They have discounted pieces of all the china ever made.
My china is very old, but they send me regular emails telling me what pieces are
available in my pattern. It does cost more to buy these special pieces, but this
may be something that is worth the cost.
Never buy new exercise equipment. You don't have
to look very far to find people selling equipment they don't use. I've even seen
a lot of it given away free on Craig's list. Exercise equipment takes up a lot
of room, and when it is not used, it is quickly disposed of.
Here is a tip to save a little money on buying
fabric. Look for a bolt that only has a small amount of fabric left on it. Even
if you want the whole amount on the bolt, ask for less. If there is less than a
yard left on the bolt after the amount you want, they may ask you if you want
the rest of it as a remnant, at half price.
When you go garage sale shopping, look closely at items that
look new and are in their original packaging. If you think they may make a
good gift for someone, pick them up.
Home Office Supplies
Buy all of your home office supplies during the
back to school sales. Paper, pencils, pens, markers, erasers, and many other
items you use at home for your office and computer needs will be on sale.
Don't pass up nice items like pretty chenille
bedspreads or large linen tablecloths because of a few spots or holes. If
they are priced well, you can up the bedspreads to make pillows and bed skirts.
Tablecloths can be cut down into dish cloths, placemats, or table runners.
When you subscribe to a magazine, never sign up for
automatic renewals. If you hold off renewing your subscription, they may send
you an offer to subscribe again at a lower rate. Also, you may find a less
expensive Introductory offer to the same magazine from another source. Even if
it is from the magazine, you can call them, and they will probably do a price
match for you.
In my opinion, one of the best buys at thrift stores are
pictures. I don't buy them for the pictures. I buy them for the frame, the
mat, or the glass. Wooden frames can be refinished, glass and mats in
standard sizes can be mixed and matched.
When you can find spray bottles on sale, buy them. You
will find a lot of uses for them that will save money. Most people use them to
make their own cleaning solutions. They are also good to put anything into that
you can spray instead of pouring from a bottle, like vegetable oil. You will
always use less product this way. You can dilute almost all of the water based
products you buy in the store, such as soaps and shampoo, and they will still be
Tools make great presents for men- as most men
seem to love their tools. Whether you are buying them as a present, or for
yourself, try and buy them in sets. They are always cheaper in the long run when
you spend the extra money to get a set with all the sizes; as opposed to buying
It saves money in the long run to buy the most
expensive towels you can afford. They will last longer. Also, do not buy very
light or very dark colors. The light colors will show stains, and the dark
colors don't take bleach well. Sometimes, even without adding bleach, on
inexpensive towels the color will come off of dark towels, leaving them with
unsightly bare spots.
Goodwill, and other thrift stores, are great places to pick up
toys. If a toy is till working by the time it hits the thrift stores, it is
probably a well-made toy that will last. We have several toys we picked up, that
have batteries and make sound, at least 6 years ago. Those toys are still
working, and the batteries are haven't even been changed.
Think about pick up some netting or tulle when it goes on sale
at your local craft or fabric store. It is one of those things that after you
have it, you will wonder how you did without it
- It can be used as wrapping paper in a pinch, and looks great as the filler in
- It is also a great craft item with many things such as hair decorations or
- It can be used to tie up party favors or potpourri, or added to floral
- It is used to embellish clothing and in quilting.
- It can also serve as a strainer in certain situations.
Have you noticed that bottled water now comes
in miniature bottles? Think about buying one of them for your purse. You won't
be tempted to buy a drink when you get thirsty.
Maintenance and Repairs
Your refrigerator is a high priced item in your home. Be
sure and read your owner's manual and give it the maintenance it needs. If you
have a hard time pulling it out it get behind it, think about getting some pads
to place underneath the legs so that it will easily roll out. Most refrigerators
need the coils cleaned - which are often in the back. You should be able to
vacuum them with one of the attachments of your vacuum cleaner. Remember also
that your refrigerator needs to breathe, so don't store things on top of it.
Keep the dust off the coils, and the top clear- and it will run much more
efficiently, saving you money.
Whenever an electrical motor stops working, whether
it's the vacuum or the garage door opener, always check to see if there is a
reset button. Many a repairman has been called to fix something that only needs
resetting. It is both embarrassing and expensive.
Be sure and use a surge protector
for ALL of your electronics. Your electronics are not only at risk for power
surges, but they can be "fried during electrical storms by lightening. Remember,
there is a difference between a power strip, which lets you plug in several
plugs in one outlet, and a surge protector. Spend the extra few dollars and buy
the surge protector to protect your high sensitive electronics, such as your
televisions and computers.