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Smart Shopping Ideas

By: Steve Johnson

6/30/2008 - 15 Comments

Here are a few smart shopping ideas to consider when you need to find a way to save some money.

Stylish Jeans

When I was a child, in the 80’s, my father’s wages were frozen for 8 years.  During that time, my parents didn’t have money for stylish jeans.  I remember my mother sewing patches on our jeans over and over.  When the coming recession gets into full swing, families are no longer going to have money for the latest clothing fads.  Families will cut back wherever they can.  Retail stores and shopping malls are going to see a drastic slowdown. Today the style is to look old are raggedy – which easy to duplicate without spending a lot of money.  One idea is to buy new looking jeans, which are cheaper because they are not in style, and wash them with a little bleach and a few small rocks. The results produce stylish jeans.

Good Deals

Today’s busy parents do not have extra time to look for good deals and end up paying full price for most house hold items. Why ask the sale clerk, ‘when are the sales’, if you don’t have the time to come back during the sale anyway.  Our busy buying culture has created a bubble retail market by allowing retailers to produce high profits as people pay whatever price they put on the label.

Retailers have realized that everyone still wants a good deal, but no one has time to find them.  So major department stores have found a way to give everyone the emotional feeling of finding a ‘good deal’ – by placing permanent ‘30% off’ signs on the doors.  But, these are not actually good deals. A good deal is getting good value for a product.

This is all going to change, as the entire retail industry begins to realize that their customers are broke and their credit cards are maxed.  People will become much more sensitive to getting good value for the products they purchase.

For example, the national retailer Kohl’s gives an additional 10-30% off all store items 4-6 times per year. If you keep a list of what your family needs and wait for these large scale sales events, you can save a lot of money on everything from socks to bed sheets. Planning around these large scale sales events is a great way to save money.  Here is what you can do. Call your favorate stores and ask them when their large scale sales events are, then write these days on your calendar and keep a list of items that you need until the sales events. You will be supprised at how much you can save.   

Let Others Shop for You

Many people today have become addicted to shopping and buy much more clothes than their children can use.  You can save a lot of time and money by buying the extra clothes that addicted shoppers no longer need or sometimes didn’t ever have time to wear.

Here’s what to do.  Find an over-consuming parent that has children 1-2 years older than yours and has yearly garage sales. Ask them to call you the day before they open their garage sale every year so that you can come in and buy their best clothes in one stop before the garage sale even opens.  They will usually gladly call you knowing you will buy a lot of items and you will benefit from their investment in time and money buying clothes all year. This idea can save your family a lot of money and your children will be happy with the high quality of clothing you purchase for them.

Gift Planning

Every family has to buy gifts throughout the year for graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. – so why not plan ahead and buy in bulk. Shopping for gifts can cost a family as much as $2000 / year.  Busy parents pay full price while shopping at the last minute for gifts and cards. 

An easy way to save money on gift shopping is to get a gift box that you can fill with gifts and cards, so when you need a gift you just look in the box rather than making another trip to the store paying more money than you need to. When you find something on sale that would make a nice gift – you buy 3 of them and put it in your gift box.  You can do the same thing with cards. We buy gift cards in bulk, 20 at a time from for $0.40 vs. $4.00 that you would pay in a store.

Gift planning can also save you a lot of time.  Busy parents that shop for gifts at the last minute take 10-20 more shopping trips per year than parents that manage a gift box.  Another idea is to put gifts that you (or your children) receive but don’t want - in your gift box (re-gifting). Just remember not to give the gift to the person who gave you the gift.  Most of the time, it seems to work out giving re-gifted items to someone on the other side (husband or wife) of your family that you received the gift from.

I hope these ideas give you some new ways to save your family some money.

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