Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Never Pay Full Price and Making your own deals

Part of making money is saving money, right?  Everyone knows that a penny saved is a penny earned, and I don't know anyone who blatantly wants to overpay for things.  However, looking for good deals can be confusing.  How do you know you are getting a good deal?  How do you know when is a good time to buy? Where do you go to find amazing deals?  Well, lets try to demystify some of this...

I am a firm believer in the principle of "never pay full price" (aka NPFP).  I think it comes from my crafty side.  If you are crafty, you probably know that you never go to Joann's or Michael's without a 40% off coupon AT LEAST.  30% off is maybe acceptable if you have to have it right away, but if you can wait, there will be a 50% off coupon or sale coming up at some point.  So hold out and look for the deals.  Why do I know this?  Well, I shop there frequently, and I am familiar with how their ads work and I know the inventory they sell intimately.  I also know there are other shops around and if I can't get it one place I can get it another.  I also know when an unbelievable deal comes around, and I buy what I need then.  I shop a lot, so I know what a good or a great deal looks like.

If you aren't shopping craft stores, these principles still hold true.  If you buy groceries a lot, you may notice that milk coupons come out about every two weeks, and when one store has one, usually they all do.  If you are like my family, you can't go 2 weeks without buying milk, so I hit up more than one store to use my milk coupons or I go to somewhere like Walmart that takes competitors coupons, and I stock up ahead of time.  Milk expires, but not THAT fast, and I know we will use it.  I also know that once in a while my local store has amazing deals on canned goods.  I buy as many as they will let me (or usually a case if they have no limit) because I know I will go through them, and they have a long shelf life.  If you wont drink that much milk or use that many canned tomatoes before they go bad, don't fall into the trap of buying up on it only to throw it out.  Know your household needs, and buy the things that work best for you.

So how do you find out what a good or a GREAT deal looks like?  The answer - do your research. For things like groceries, you need to do it a lot.  For larger items, you need to do some shopping around. Get yourself comfortable with pricing and asking questions.   Ask sales people if there are any promotions coming up, and also ask about ones that just ended that they can still sneak you in on (sometimes it is easier to get them to cut you a deal if they know they will get a sale on the spot). Talk to others about it and see what they are seeing and spending. Look online for sales.  Even if they are not in your area, you may be able to get an idea for what a good sale price looks like and then wait until one comes up by you.

Next, how do you know when to buy?  Well, first of all, don't be in a hurry.  If you wait to purchase something until you need it right away, you don't have time to wait for the good deals.  Plan large purchases as much in advance as you can.  For many those large items you only buy once in a great while, like appliances, cars, or electronics, there are certain times of the year that are better than others for buying. Most consumables and durable goods have a cycle, meaning they come out with a new model around the same time.  There are tons of guides out there from consumer organizations and budget or shopping bloggers that can help you figure out when items are going to be clearanced out to make way for incoming stock or to clear space as the seasons change.  As long as you don't mind having last year's model of washer and dryer or waiting until summer is over to get that larger grill you have had your eye on, this is a great way to save.  Save even more by buying floor models.  A few dings and dents can save you a bundle!  This also applies for smaller things like clothes and food, but you may be less likely to wait when the payoff isn't as big, and I don't blame you! Decide what your needs are and wait only when it makes sense to you.

Over time, I found myself wishing I had a coupon for 40% off for everything.  I went to the grocery store, and I wished I could pay less for the meat or flour I was buying.  I went to get a new computer after mine died, and I swear I felt physical pain paying sticker for it.  Buying Christmas presents, I wished everything went on sale as much as I wanted, and even if it was on sale, I wanted a better deal.  Our last question was, where do you find amazing deals?  You can go to flea markets, garage sales, outlet stores, and more, but this is kind of a trick question.  The answer is, don't find them, make them.  When you go to the store to buy a new fridge, knowing that you are buying at the time when the new models are coming out and you have your eye on the floor model, let the sales person know that you saw a similar fridge at a competitor's store for less and ask if they will match the price, or ask if you can get a % off discount because there is a large scratch on the door, or ask if they can apply the promotion they are using to clearance their stock on the floor models, too... Don't be afraid to ask for a good deal.  There are about a million ways to talk a price down, and generally, you will be successful.  Be creative, and most importantly, don't be shy.  Bartering is a skill that many cultures nurture from birth, but us Americans seem to have missed the boat.  Haggling over price makes us so uncomfortable, we would rather pay way more than necessary to avoid doing it.  Its a bummer that it makes us so uncomfortable, but that has some bonuses, too.  People you are buying from are also so unused to people asking for a deal, they rarely say no.  Use the social awkwardness to your advantage and make yourself a GREAT deal!  You should still attempt to find those great shops that always have a good deal or hit up craigslist and local garage sales for things, but never miss the opportunity to haggle, even in a retail store.

Do your research, shop around, look for the right time, ask for a deal, and buy up when you find a GREAT deal.  You could be pleasantly surprised, and your wallet might be, too!

A note on haggling:  This can be a slippery moral slope.  Many people view haggling as dishonest or rude because you are "cheating" someone. That is simply not true.  Garage sales and craft fairs are a few examples of when people expect to haggle, but even your local chain store has a large markup they can come down on.  I take the opinion that it is the seller's responsibility to stay firm on a price.  The seller always retains the right to decline a sale.  That said, I may argue my case, but I will never manipulate someone into doing something they clearly are not comfortable with.  Bottom line: if it feels slimy and wrong, don't do it.

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