Finding ways to save money is not only the domain of the frugal and the penny pinchers of plenty. It’s a way of life for the impoverished. Despite how much money the dollar stores across America seem to save consumers, they can prove devastating to the commerce community at large.
So, how can you save money while avoiding or giving as little as possible to these dollar stores? Becoming a bargain shopper might help you. Here are some tips that will help you maximize your savings while minimizing harm.
Shop for Used Items Over New
One of the best methods for cutting costs is to open your mind to the idea of buying used items over brand-new ones. Yes, we know, when you’re used to buying everything fresh out of the box, the thought of buying used can seem like anathema. However, there’s a wide variety of products that you can find gently used that will work just as well, if not better, than brand new ones.
Game consoles and other pieces of technology get returned to stores all the time because the person who bought them wanted something else. There’s nothing wrong with these items: They’ve just been opened before.
Appliances also make great used and refurbished buys, as financing a brand new one can prove more expensive over time than buying something used. Whether you use local thrift shops or buy directly from other people through apps like OfferUp, you’ll save money in the long run.
Coupons Are Your Friends
As every bargain shopper will attest, coupons, whether digital or physical, are your friends when you’re trying to save money. When you decide to coupon, keep in mind that there are two separate types that get used.
Store or site coupons are coupons created for use with a specific vendor. For example, if you have a Wal-Mart coupon, you won’t get that price honored at, say, a Dollar General or a Target unless they have a policy that specifies otherwise. Manufacturer coupons come from the manufacturer, making them valid at any location where that item is sold.
However, you may still need to research a store’s specific coupon policy before you start cutting them willy-nilly. After all, if you discover that the answer to “does family dollar take coupons” is a resounding “no”, you’ll have wasted valuable time.
Search the Sale and Clearance Racks
If you want to shop smarter, make sure you search the sale and clearance racks. This goes double for items like clothing. While granted, you won’t have your pick of sizes and styles, you may be surprised at what you can find.
As soon as a season reaches its end and stores start preparing for the next one, they need to get all of that old inventory out of their doors as quickly as possible. So, if you want a swimsuit, get one as the summer season closes.
Need new long-sleeved shirts or sweaters? Search the clearance racks when the spring fashion season begins. Can’t get enough of those spring colors? Browse the leftovers when summer’s heat rolls in.
You may also find bed sheets, grooming products, and a host of other knick-knacks taking up space in a store’s inventory by browsing the clearance aisle. While the packaging may not be much to look at, the products within should still be in good working order. Just make sure that you check the expiration dates on any food or grooming products.
Don’t Hesitate to Enroll in Rewards Programs
Rewards programs are excellent cost-cutters. And no, we don’t just mean the rewards your credit card can give you. (Although those, in themselves, can provide great value.)
We mean those rewards programs that every grocery store, retailer, and restaurant offers to you at checkout. The vast majority of these programs are free and can offer you some serious savings if you visit that location often. As a bonus, when the month of your birthday rolls around, every single one of these locations will offer you some sort of freebie, discount, or another gift for your loyalty.
Who couldn’t use a free burger or ice cream during the month of their birth?
Generics and Store Brands Are Great Cost Cutters
If you’re serious about cutting costs like a real bargain shopper, you need to release your attachment to name-brand goods. Yes, we know, the name is part of the appeal, especially in fashion. However, if you open your mind and your eyes, you’ll find that the generic versions and store brands of the products you know and love offer the same features at a much lower cost.
In fact, when it comes to prescriptions and groceries, the generics and the store brands use the exact same formulation as the name-brand items. In many cases, they even come from the same facility. What you’re paying for is the name and the marketing of the more famous brand, not the quality.
Combine the savings you get from buying store brands with in-store coupons, and your savings can compound in a hurry.
A True Bargain Shopper Looks at Value, Not Price
This applies mostly to groceries, but it’s worth stating for all bargain hunters. A true bargain shopper looks for the best value, rather than the best price.
Here’s the thing: an item might be, per dollar and cents, cheaper than its counterpart. However, if the container right next to it offers thirty percent more for only a dime or so above the first item’s cost, you’re not getting a better value.
If you had the choice between a Faded Glory T-shirt that was eight dollars brand new and an Izod shirt on clearance for ten dollars, which would you say is the better value? If you said the Izod, then you’re thinking like a real bargain hunter.
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Looking for More Tips for the Budding Bargain Hunter?
The above tips can serve as guidelines for any beginning bargain shopper. However, if you need more help to shop smarter this year, check out our blog for more helpful articles like this one!