Shopping. Who doesn’t love shopping? If you’re anything like me, shopping might just be your love language. However, just because it makes my heart skip a beat every time I get something new and shiny for my home and family, it doesn’t mean it’s something that my budget can afford any time my heart desires.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few “tricks of the trade” for getting things you want, for much less. If saving money was a career, I’d be CEO. So, I wanted to write this post to share everything I’ve learned and how you can get more for you and your family for less.
In addition to my money-saving tips, I will also share a few other shopping related tips that will help you get what you want.
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Hack #1: Buy off season
– Let me explain. The best time to buy something is on sale, and off season is usually when you can find the biggest discounts. So, as a best practice, I buy fall/winter items in the spring/summer and spring/summer items in the fall/winter. While this does mean that you might have a bit less to choose from and you might miss out on that one perfect item, for the most part, if you shop right before the new season is getting ready to start, you can luck out with a lot of options, for a lot less.
This can apply to all kinds of seasonal shopping (i.e holiday decor, clothing, home decor, etc.) For example, there was a Christmas tree that we had our eyes on for a while, and it was always a bit more than what we wanted to spend on a Christmas tree, so we held off. The following Summer, the tree was discounted at over 50% off so we jumped on it. Did we need a Christmas tree in the middle of summer? No. But, shopping out of season allowed us to get something we always wanted, for a significantly lower price, which makes enjoying this Christmas tree each year that much sweeter.
You can check out our Christmas tree here
Hack #2: Sign up for promotional emails or texts
I know right…another marketing email. It’s not my favorite thing either, however, the can prove beneficial if you change your perspective a little bit. Do I like receiving 5 emails a day from Bed bath and beyond? No, but I do like the various 20% off emails they send in the instance I need to purchase something from there. Companies want to be able to share their marketing campaigns with customers, so will usually provide an immediate incentive for signing up with them. Additionally, a lot of companies will send you bonus coupons for your birthday. So, before you click the ‘buy now’ button, be sure to check the website to see if there are any such incentives.
If bogging down your email account is something you’re not interested in doing, create a separate “shopping” email account. You will use this account to sign up for these emails and to make your online purchases. This helps organize your emails for online shopping into one place. This also then clears your other email account for more important, or personal use only.
#ProTip, (if you can) Do not delete these marketing emails. Any time I am ready to make an online purchase, I always search my “shopping” email account for the company I am shopping to see if they have recently send an email that includes any promotions or coupons that I can use with my purchase.
Hack #3: Call your local store
Now, this isn’t something that works for every company, but I have had more success than not with this trick…
If there is something online that you want to purchase, but don’t want to pay the shipping fee, first, follow Tip #2 and check for promo emails. If there aren’t any current promotions to help with free shipping, call your local store or possibly any physical store location and ask if they can order the item for you to have it sent to your home. A lot of times, stores can order merchandise and have it shipped directly to you at no additional cost. If they do not offer a ship to home option by ordering it through the store, then you might be able to have it shipped to your local store for pickup, also saving you on shipping costs. Also, while you‘re on the phone, it never hurts to ask if there are any available discounts, coupons, or promos that might apply to your purchase.
This also helps with finding items that might be out of stock online, but might be available in-store. For example, there was a pullover from Tommy Bahama that I desperately wanted to get my husband for Christmas. However, when I went to purchase the item online, his size was out of stock. I also did not have a local store in my area. I called Tommy Bahama customer service who was able to check in-store inventory and found one in Atlanta. I called the Atlanta store directly, and they shipped it right to my door…for FREE! As an added bonus, they also accepted my in-store only coupon!
Hack #4: Search the web for other retailers
This tip will save you money, but will require a little leg work to get the job done. Let me tell you what I mean.
Any time I am looking at making a purchase (this goes for online or in-store), especially a larger purchase, before buying, I will do a quick google search of the item. Google has a great feature that shows the prices of the item from various retailers so that you can make sure you’re getting the best deal..
For example, let’s say I want to purchase a new pair of Nike tennis shoes I found at Dicks Sporting Goods. I will copy and paste the style name of the shoes into a google search and let google do some of the work for me. Google will then show me what the shoe costs at other retailers.
Always check other retailers as they may be having promotional sales that others aren’t. So even if two retailers carry the same shoe for the same price, one may have a promotional sale, with 20% off, making it a better deal. As you can see below, Nike.com actually ended up having the shoes I wanted for a lower price than Dicks Sporting Goods.
#ProTip: Combine the tips from Step #2 to get an even bigger savings
Hack #5: Be open to other styles or variations
Finding that perfect item can sometimes be tough, especially when what you’re after has a big price tag. What if I told you, you could still get exactly (for the most part) what you want, for wayyyy less? Here’s the trick. Being open to alternative styles and/or colors can be very beneficial when it comes to getting what you want for less. This is a big tip to apply when shopping for home decor and furniture. Let me show you what I mean.
This beautiful Pottery Barn Coffee Table is $899, however, after shopping around, I was able to find a very similar table from Wayfair for only $275. Now, I’m not knocking Pottery Barn. In fact, my home is filled with treasures from there. But I think we can all agree, that it takes a fat wallet to keep up with their pricing. This is just one example of how you can save a TON of money if you’re willing to go with alternative brands/styles/variations. I know I’d rather save $625 on the coffee table and put that money back in my pocket or invest it elsewhere in my home.
Another area where this tip can save you some serious cheese is in home renovation. For example, these two engineered hardwood floors are the exact same product, but one is 2.99/sqft while the other is $3.39/sqft. The only difference is the color. Being open to an alternative color, can save you money!
Still not convinced? I’ll share one more example. After refinishing the cabinets in my kitchen, I wanted new cabinet pulls. I was looking at these from Home Depot at $3.99ea. I needed 25, which would mean my total for just the pulls would be $100! That was a little more than I wanted to spend. After a bit of searching, I found these on Amazon for $34.47 for 25 of them!! I was able to save $65 and there is NO difference in the look or quality. Can you tell the difference?
Hack #6: Use local buying and selling sites
I am a huge fan of buying “gently used” on a number of different types of items. Doing this saves me a ton of money by allowing me to get things I may not be able to if I had to pay retail for them. One of my favorite ways to do this is by using local buying and selling sites. One I use most often is Facebook Marketplace. I can’t count on my hands how many times I’ve found amazing pieces for my home for over half off of what retail would cost. This has become the first place I look when I need furniture for an area of my home. More times than not, you can luck out with low cost items that need little to no work, but if you’re willing to refinish items, you can save even bigger!
What’s the saying? “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri?“ Can you name that movie? Let me know in the comments.
Other great apps are Nextdoor.com, LetGo.com, and of course Craigslist (though I rarely use this one because of the heavy amount of fraud and criminal activity associated with Craigslist).
***With all local buying and selling, it’s very important to use caution and be smart about meeting. Choose somewhere public, a busy time of the day, and if you can, bring a friend or family member with you. Shop safe, shop smart!
Below I’ve shared a couple of FaceBook Marketplace finds:
Hack #7: Buy off brand
Everyone wants that designer life, but not everyone has that designer budget. While I firmly believe there is a quality difference between some off-brand and designer items, there are a lot of areas in which dupes or alternative off-brand options are just as swanky for less.
I’ve linked some of my favorite off-brand items that rival the designer version impressively.
– My favorite Lululemon dupes for a fraction of the price can be found on Amazon here. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are the most buttery, soft leggings I’ve ever had. They also hold up well during workouts! The best part…they are only $24!
– My favorite Mac lip liner in Dervish (a whopping $18) has an impressive dupe by NYX in the color Peakaboo Neutral you can find here for only $3.99
– Apple Watch Sports Band from Apple are $49! Amazon has some amazing options that look and feel similarly seen here for only $7.99 in most colors.
– One of my favorite blushes by Nars -Orgasm ($30) has a dupe by e.l.f in Twinkle Pink found here for $9.71 and you literally can’t tell a difference!
The biggest take away here is to start with a bit of research. If you are after a product that is a littler out of your price range, google dupes or alternatives. You’ll be surprised just how much you can save!
Hack #8: Loyalty Programs
Loyalty. A very valuable quality for many of us. Businesses think so too. This is why several have loyalty programs that you can join, almost always, for free!
Usually these loyalty programs work by point accumulation each time you make a purchase. Those points then add up to coupons or other beneficial rewards to use on future purchases.
Some of my favorite loyalty programs are…
– DSW VIP Club. Earning points is simple and you are also given rewards for your birthday and as bonuses throughout the year. I rarely ever don’t have some sort of reward available when I’m ready to make a purchase. Pro tip: you can add additional profiles to yours to include your spouse or children and collect rewards for their birthdays. You also get a bonus 20 points for the first profile you create! Check out more on this here
– Kohl’s YES2YOU rewards. This is another point accumulation program but while you’re earning rewards toward a future purchase, you also receive coupons regularly for use on your purchases. Plus, a bonus gift on your birthday! This is another program that allows me to use a coupon or reward on almost every purchase. Kohl’s also has a lot of great sales outside of the loyalty program, too. Check it out here
– Target Circle. Ok, let’s face it. We all spend several hours a week at a target for reasons only the Target Gods can explain, so you might as well earn some rewards while you’re at it. Target Circle gives you 1% cash back on all of your purchases, in-store and online. This cash back can then be applied towards future purchases. Now, unless you’re spending some serious cash, the rewards won’t add up to be a substantial amount, but in time can allow you to treat yourself to something a little extra. Additionally, you get access to Target Circle coupons regularly! Interested? Learn more here
There are other places you can look for loyalty type perks. For example, a lot of restaurant groups will have some sort of loyalty program that will provide you with exclusive coupons or discounts on dining. My favorite restaurant loyalty program is Chick-fil-A One. You can earn points quickly and redeem them for free menu items. And once you accumulate enough points to reach Red status, you win a pair of tickets to the College Football Hall of Fame, and a tour of Chick-fil-A headquarters!
Another unique one you might consider are loyalty debit cards. For example, I have a Disney Chase Visa debit card. It’s a free checking account *with requirements* through Chase Bank but offers us 15% off almost everything at Disney and Disney Stores, in addition to several other benefits. If there are brands you tend to shop regularly, it never hurts to do a little digging to see if there are options like this out there for you.
Hack #9: Discounted gift cards from big box stores
This tip has saved us money time and time again and is one I definitely felt worth sharing because it might be one that gets easily forgotten. Big box stores like Sam’s, Costco, and BJ’s usually sell gift cards to a multitude of retailers, restaurants, and local attractions that can help save you a lot.
For example, often times you can get $125 worth of Apple iTunes gift cards for $100 at Sam’s. Thats 25% off!! Movie theatre (once quarantine is over) tickets are also great to purchase this way! You can usually save anywhere from 40-50% per ticket. This option makes taking a family of 4 to the movies a bit more attainable on a budget.
Hack #10: Be patient
Sometimes, all it takes to save a little money is good, old-fashioned patience. Are you feeling zen yet?
I know, it’s really hard. Like the Ariana Grande song says, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” However, unless you’re rolling in a mound of dough like Miss Grande is, then you might just have to wait until the right time to make that purchase.
All retailers (for the most part), will always have sales. You’ll find more times that not, that with a little patience, the item your heart has been desiring all this time will eventually be marked down or become part of a promotion making it a much smarter purchase.
While this method is not recommended for this “hot off the shelf” ”instant sell-out” type of items, for the most part, you’ll always find what you’re looking for even if you hold out for a better deal.
Phew! I know that was a lot, and if you’re still reading, THANK YOU 🙂 I can promise that if you take these tips and tricks, you will definitely save money and time!
Let me know in the comments what you think. Do you have any other shopping hacks you want to share?
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