Frugal Shopping

I love saving money when shopping – who doesn’t? Living on a limited budget has been the greatest teacher on how to deal with money, when to save, and whats worth the extra bit of cash in the long run. I find great deals all the time, and have been asked by a lot of people – how do you do it? I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks here.

Examples of some items I have purchased at discounted rates:

  • Dyson Vacuum - $50
  • LG flat screen 19″ computer monitor – $10
  • Toshiba Satellite Laptop – $50
  • iPad – $300
  • Mini fridge – $50
  • Microwave – $10
  • Birdtalk Magazine Subscription – $8

Frugal shopping is a mixture of patience, constant looking, and good luck. I’m a huge fan of Craigslist, and that is where I get a lot of my items. Personally, I don’t care of something has been gently used, as long as it is in good condition. I never purchase (with the exception of some computers) anything that has to be repaired, or has a history of not working correctly.

For example – I was able to purchase my dyson vacuum for $50 off of a women that was moving out of the country and was selling anything she couldn’t take with her. The vacuum has been used, but is in great condition. It isn’t the newest model – but it works just fine! When shopping, always compare and contrast the differences between the newer and older models of whatever item you are seeking. Generally newer models of certain items don’t really include that many upgrades that will affect the overall performance or use of the machine, so if you are OK with not having the latest and greatest, you can get the item for cheap!

Take for example the iPad. I purchased mine from a gentleman who was looking to sell his to upgrade to the iPad 2. He had bought the iPad in December, used it for a couple of months, and then sold it as the newer model came out. Prior to looking into buying one, I went into my local Best Buy and played with the floor models they had available. The only difference between the original iPad and the new iPad was that the newer one had camera capabilities, a slightly slimmer design, and a barely upgraded processor. I wasn’t pleased with the quality of the camera (plus I already have a decent digital camera, I honestly can not see where an iPad camera would come in use), and didn’t notice a huge difference between processor speed for basic use, I purchased the original iPad from gentleman. It still has a one year warranty on it, and runs like new. I’m extremely happy with it, and get lots of business and personal use out of it.

Take advantage of online sales. Magazines.com was having a sale on their already discounted magazine subscriptions, and when using a $5 off coupon per subscription, I got 2 magazines for a grand total of $15 per year – free shipping. My BirdTalk magazine came to a grand total of $8 for the entire year! When shopping online, also consider going through sources like Ebates.com. When you have an account on Ebates and purchase a product through a vendor on their site- such as Starbucks.com, you will get a percentage of your total purchase price back. When you pair that with a coupon code, you can get great savings! Lately, my preferred method of purchasing is through Mypoints.com – a site much like Ebates, except you get points per purchase. As your points add up, you can cash them in for gift cards. Just from making general purchases online (or reading emails they send), I’ve already gotten a couple of $25 gas cards in the mail. Honestly, I’ve gotten more from Mypoints then I ever have from Ebates (and I bought an ipod from Apple through Ebates), which is why it is my preferred site.

When shopping, know the new price of the item you are wanting to purchase. If you find a great deal online, but are charged shipping, make sure it is worth your effort to buy online instead of driving to your local store and buying it. Sometimes, shipping charges can make the item more expensive then if you were to purchase it locally. Additionally, some websites may advertise the item being ‘on sale’, when in reality they have jacked up the price already, so their sale price is really the same price as retail.

As I mentioned before, I find a lot of my items on Craigslist.com. My microwave, and mini fridge also came from Craigslist. I have a smartphone, and use an app called CraigsNotification, where I set up notifications to appear on my phone for particular items I am searching for. I set up a notification for mini fridge, and thats how I found the fridge. You also have the option to filter the search results by minimum price and set a maximum price. I always go and check out the item in person before committing to buy it. As a safety precaution, I always recommend meeting in a public location, or bringing a friend along with you when meeting someone from any sort of classifieds site – better safe then sorry :)

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Emily May 20, 2011 Blog, Frugal shopping, Non-bird