A day in the life of frugal (part 3): shopping

AJ & KJ: A day in the life of frugal is a four part series. If you missed our other posts in our series “A day in the life of frugal” check out: Part One: Food, Part Two: Home Goods & Tasks, and Part Four: Travel. This week’s installment focuses on shopping.

Shopping as a competitive sport
AJ: Shopping has always been a passion of mine. I love the entire process of trying to find the perfect thing I’m looking for at exactly the price I’m willing to pay for it. Other people like competitive sports, I like bargain shopping.

KJ: As with any sport, it takes time and practice to get really good. The more we fine tune our practices, the better we get at saving on purchases and buying what we want while still having money left over. Shopping is really about buying what you need first, then what you want if there’s anything left over. Do we need those extra clothes, shoes, tvs, you name it? Find that right balance so you don’t find yourself on A&E hoarders…

someecards.com - It's not hoarding if you can hide it!

Never pay full price
KJ: Avoid regular priced items. We almost always have a coupon or some discount available when shopping in store or online. Next time you shop online, do a Google search for coupons for the website, and you might be amazed at what you can find by taking a few extra minutes and clicks to get that same product discounted!

AJ: I started eyeing a pair of boots I really liked in early December at one of my favorite stores. They were $399 and regardless of how much foot comfort I require, I knew they weren’t worth $399, so I walked away. At Christmas I received a gift card to the same store and have held on to it tightly, knowing those boots were bound to go on sale. On Monday of last week those boots dropped $200. $200!? Are you kidding me!? That tells you how high the margin is. I digress. I Googled looking for an extra discount for sale merchandise and didn’t find one, but I knew they would probably offer a deeper discount soon, so I held off. Six hours later a 40% off coupon appeared in my inbox and I literally paid $75 for that $399 pair of boots including tax and shipping. Anticipate when you will need to replace more expensive wardrobe and home items and plan to replace them at the end of a prior season. Stretch what you already have one more season and put the savings away for a rainy day.

Bargain shopping boots

KJ: I hate this, but some people are really good at haggling anything. There’s a whole A&E show about people who haggle on items and continuously upgrade what they are looking for. If you’re good at it, more power to you, but I can’t do it!

AJ: My grandfather was the king of haggling. Many beautiful pieces of jewelry were purchased for a fraction of the price being asked and my mother and I have loved the benefits of his haggling. I agree with Kirby that this is sometimes uncomfortable and less and less socially acceptable but be mindful of industries where it is still acceptable and benefit from it! We drove a hard bargain with two car dealerships over both of our cars both on the trade-in side for our existing cars and on the purchase price of the new cars we bought. In both instances we ultimately got to the number we felt was right for us and felt great about the costly purchase.

Be prepared to walk away
AJ: I promised myself when I was in high school that upon my first major career promotion I would buy myself a huge Louis Vuitton bag. I had my heart set on one specific style and just knew that owning that bag would remind me of my accomplishments. For the record, Kirby was not on board with this at any point, which ultimately led me to realize that I could do without that bag. I still think about it every time I see a woman carrying it but knew that realistically I would prefer a week on a beach with my husband over something so impractical. Even if the bag had been $50 you still have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Even if what you want is more practical than my Louis Vuitton bag, really sit on the thought of how you might use it and how much longer you could make do without it before making the plunge into what could be a life-long relationship with a teal sofa you overpaid for during your “brights” phase.

Sleep on it
AJ: Most stores have a 24 hour hold policy. If you’re on the fence about something or promised yourself you weren’t going to buy anything, put it on hold and think it over until the next day. Putting something on hold is no more a commitment than window shopping and unlike haggling is completely socially acceptable. If a week later you decide you really do want and can afford whatever it is, go back and get it. If it’s gone, find it somewhere else. Nothing is really one of a kind anymore and someone is bound to have an acceptable version that’s similar enough to whatever it is you love.

KJ: Hasty, rash decisions are the epitome of bad shopping. By taking the time to step away from the purchase decision, you will more often than not realize that you didn’t really need it. Save that impulse buy cash for something you really care about.

Go shopping in your own house
AJ: If you find yourself feeling uninspired by what you already own and continually feel like you need more stuff, invite a friend over to help you do more with what you already have. Ask for help better organizing your pantry before spending money on costly solutions. Pull together multiple outfits with pieces you already own and photograph them so you don’t forget what you have. Regularly merchandise all of your belongings and toss what’s broken, donate what you don’t need, and really take stock of what you already have. If you’re like me your problem isn’t lack of space, it’s sheer excess which you can control by cutting back!

Again, if you missed our other posts in our series “a day in the life of frugal” then check out parts one, two, and four at: Part One: Food, Part Two: Home Goods & Tasks, and Part Four: Travel

    What methods do you use to pinch pennies when you shop?
    Do any of these seem absurd to you?
    Do you have anything unique of your own to add?

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3 thoughts on “A day in the life of frugal (part 3): shopping

  1. God stuff. I on the other hand do not buy expensive items such as AJ does but do believe price at any level of shopping is my main goal but never overlook quality, especialy in items you use frequently. A good pair of hiking shoes I wear almost daily cost me $130 five years ago are just starting to show signs of wear. Now I but the same brand only watch for sales and pay 30% less. Now these shoes will become yard shoes and fit better than the $49(on sale) pair I currently use that are only two years old. To me it’s not what you save but how much use you get for a buck.

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