I was raised by a single mother. Obviously, she had to be on a tight budget to make ends meet. My mom, she LOVES to shop. I, being her only daughter, grew up to be her best shopping partner. Without even knowing it was happening, she passed on her frugal ways to me. Someone once joked that I won’t buy anything over $5 and that’s not far from the truth! I often have others ask me how I score such sweet deals. This answer seems so simple but also goes against what other money saving gurus might say. I don’t use many coupons because I am not that organized and don’t have that much time.
I have noticed that people tend to shop when they absolutely need something. I know what you’re thinking: it has been suggested to only buy things you absolutely “need”. In my experience, that leads to spending more in the long run. If you can get a good deal on something from a sale, coupon, or clearance that you know you will eventually need, why not get it? You might not need it in that moment, but you can save big by buying it when you can get the best deal possible. I don’t only mean things like toothpaste. If you find a $50 pair of sneakers marked down to $8 and you know you will need new sneakers in the next 6 months. Why wait and hope to find a good deal? You will likely end up spending much more in 6 months when you need them.
This brings me to how frequently you should shop. The answer is, every chance you get! The more you shop the more likely you are to snag that deal. Literally, before I had kids, shopping was my hobby. One trait I inherited is the ability to window shop. You must have self-control and go shopping knowing it might not end in a purchase. I happen to find wandering around a store to be therapeutic.
Clearance is your best friend. No ,clearance is your ONLY friend! When I go to a department store, nothing else in the store exist to me besides clearance items. I walk straight to the clearance and start shopping. When I go to a grocery store or like a Walgreens to get a prescription, I always check the clearance. There is a Walgreens 0.2 miles from my house. I go there often for prescriptions or if we need diapers or something. There have been times I go on back-to-back days and even though I checked clearance yesterday, I make a stop the next day again. You never know what they might put out! A couple weeks before Valentine’s day I was picking up a prescription and I found an action figure for $1.99, it was originally $19.99. I also got $0.75 bath bombs and $0.10 mini scrunchies. For a few bucks, I unexpectedly put together a Valentine’s day basket for my 3 year old.
Shop off-season for more than just your clothes. Shopping off-season isn’t a new concept, but it doesn’t have to apply to clothes only. For example, school supplies at the beginning of school season all get marked down for quick sale. Stock up for next school season or maybe grab birthday/Christmas gifts. If you have a lot of kids in your family that you shop for, you can buy clearance crayons and markers and pair with a coloring book for gifts later. My mom usually has a box or two of clearance or sale items that she bought just because the deal was that good. Come Christmas, she is usually half done by going through the box and pairing items with kids. If we get invited to a baby shower or birthday party, we search the box. In there might be an outfit she found for $1, toys for $3. Now you aren’t going out and spending a lot on a gift but you’re still giving some cool things! Not to brag but it seems like our gifts get good responses. Using this method doesn’t mean you buy any old crappy thing and give it as a gift. You buy things you genuinely think are good gifts – you just found it at the right price.
Buy second hand or don’t be shy to ask for hand me downs. Thrift stores, pop up consignment events (my favorite), yard sales, clothing exchange. All great places to get just what you need. My oldest child in 3.5, a lot of her gifts from me so far have been second hand. 90% of my kids clothing is second hand. They don’t know the difference and I like recycling. I have been VERY blessed with hand me downs or catching people giving away hand me down clothes, toys, other baby items. I’m also not afraid to put it out there. I have made Facebook posts saying “Hey, these are my kids’ sizes, let me know if you have hand me downs I can take off your hands.” Many times, family and friends don’t want to donate to a thrift store that resells their items but would rather give it to someone they know that can use it. You don’t know if you don’t ask! Thrifts stores can be very hit and miss and takes some digging. I really prefer a pop up consignment, they only take stuff in decent shape. My favorite is http://www.kidscloset.biz/ and I go on Saturday which is the last day and many items are half off. Unless I can’t live without something I try not spending over $1 an item.
Whoa, that ended up being much longer than I expected. I hope you made it this far and feel like you might be a better shopper because of it! I once had someone tell me “You get what you pay for.” However, buying “cheap” doesn’t necessarily mean buying poor quality. I also feel like unless you have a disposable income you are only buying a small amount of your “better quality” clothes. So, you buy a basic shirt at Nordstrom’s for $65 and I get a similar one on clearance at target for $8. I can buy many more shirts with that $65, like an entire wardrobe. Not only do I get more variety but now I am not wearing and washing my clothes as often as you which makes them last longer. Because I buy them at various times not all my clothes are getting old at the same time so I don’t end up needing an entire wardrobe all at once. I got a pair of sandals and wore them to a friend’s house. She had an identical pair, I mean the only way we could tell a difference is the size – hers were around $60 at Nordstrom’s and mine were $5. You CAN have nice things and not break the bank. HAPPY SHOPPING!