In a tough economy where costs are up and income is down, one way to continue living within our means is by changing the way we shop. While most of us understand that clipping coupons and shopping the sales is one way to save money, changing our shopping habits will save even more.
Need some ideas of how you can change your shopping habits without affecting your lifestyle? Here’s 15 changes our family made in how we do our shopping:
1. Always pick up the sales circular as you walk through the door. Did you know that all major stores have ads that they keep in a kiosk out in front? These ads not only have coupons for discounted items, but frequently have “percentage off” coupons for your entire purchase.
2. Buy your books and household goods at thrift stores Buying used is OK, and for basic kitchen items, dinnerware and so on, the thrifts are definitely the way to go. Thrifts are also the home of the 25 cent paperback for those of us who are avid readers.
3. Shop remaindered stores. Need towels, blankets, home decor, bathroom accessories and other home items? Instead of hitting the department stores at the mall, shop at places like Ross, Kohl’s, and Tuesday Mornings instead for savings of 50% and more.
4. Never shop on an empty stomach. While this bit of advice usually applies to grocery shopping, it also applies to any kind of shopping. A full stomach means passing by the candy bars, soft drinks, and other enticing items found at the register.
5. Don’t spend more than 50% off the listed retail price for clothes. When it comes to buying clothes, our family hits the clearance rack first for the bargains. If we can’t find what we need, it’s off to the outlet mall or places like Ross for discounted clothes.
6. Always scan the clearance tables and racks. It’s here where you’ll find deals on things you know you’ll need in the future. Things I’m always watching for are towels, bedding, laundry needs, bath rugs, sweatshirts & tee shirts, and other items that wear out on a regular basis.
7. Use your charge card for additional discounts & immediately pay it off in the store. Big name department stores sometimes offer 15% discounts when you “charge it.”. To enjoy the discount without running up the charge card, we pay off the balance five minutes after the charge was made.
8. Shop at grocery outlets. Grocery outlets are remaindered stores for food, and often carry off brands and foods that are approaching their due date. Instead of shopping at the grocer down the street, I’m now in the habit of shopping the grocery outlets for the deals before doing my “regular” grocery shopping.
9. Buy floor samples or last year’s models. New is wonderful but last years models can be about 20-35% less. Whether it’s a car, computer or major appliance, we’ve discovered that last year’s models are always much cheaper than the brand new.
10. Hit the dollar stores. Shopping dollar stores was a huge change for me, since I had never even set foot in one until about 2 years ago. While dollar stores do carry a lot of cheap junk and Made in China food, there’s also a bundle of treasures that turn up at these places as well.
11. Sign up for preferred membership cards. Many stores have preferred programs that offer rebates and discounts to regular customers. I used to think this was a waste of time until receiving my first rebate check. This is one program definitely worth joining.
12. Visit fruit stands. Corner fruit & vegetable stands usually price their produce between 10-20% less than the grocery store. Getting in the habit of swinging by fruit stands is an easy way to save money on produce.
13. Always check receipts before leaving the store. It’s been my experience that at least 33% of my transactions have an error in the store’s favor. Checking the receipt before leaving the store only takes a few minutes and will save you money as well.
14 Sign up for mailing lists. Craft stores and small local shops like to mail advertising circulars to their preferred customers. The big bonus here is that the circulars often contain coupons between 25-40% off a future purchase.
15. Be willing to experiment with different brands. Many of us our brand loyal and use the same things that our parents used. However, when times are tough, it’s worth trying the cheaper “house brand” of an item at least once. You might be surprised at how good these house brands can be.