Tis the Season to Be Thrifty
The shopping season is soon approaching. The money you've saved up is now going to be used on other people. But maybe there's some ways you can shop thrifty so you don't have to kiss all that cash goodbye.
It everyone's favorite time of the year! Stampedes of people trampling over one another when the mall opens. Lines so long they wrap around the store...twice! Getting into your first fist fight over the last copy of the latest video game. What a great time.
On top of all that fun, Thanksgiving is late this year. There's only 2 days left of November after Thanksgiving and then only 3 1/2 weeks of December until you'll your shopping list needs to be complete. Of course you can always shop prior to Thanksgiving, but tradition for stores is for the best deals to be held right after turkey day.
There's always shopping online but let's be honest, after you pay for shipping and handling it comes out to about the same as the store price (given you get to wear your PJs as you pay where as store employees might judge you a little if you came up to them like that). Plus there's some things you have to check out in person or deals that are in-store only. So here I have 5 ways to be thrifty and find your own deals this season!
1. Dumpster Diving
While it sounds like a joke (which in part may be so) and gross, you actually can find some great stuff in the dumpster! But not just any dumpster, mind you, the mall's dumpster. After working in retail for 7 years, I learned the secrets of what happens to damaged items...THEY GO IN THE TRASH! You log the item, put it in a bag with other damaged goods, wait for the district manager to come and check that everything in there is logged, and then they throw it into the dumpsters in the alleyway of the mall. Jewelry where only one earring was missing out of 20 pack - trash. A wig that was having a terrible hair day - trash. A shirt that had a minor hole in it but could be patched up easily - trash. Make-up packages opened up but never used - trash. A headband missing 1 rhinestone out of 50 - trash. There was one time we had to damage out a 42 inch stuffed animal simply because it had a hole in it's neck (but don't worry, my co-worker ended up digging it out once it was tossed and stitching it up and giving it her niece).
You see where I'm going though. Slightly damaged store items are tossed in the garbage even if they are still usable or fixable, but the companies know customers aren't going to spend money on something broken, slightly ripped, or etc. In total seriousness here, the week after Thanksgiving, during the evening, go to the mall, do some shopping, and check the dumpsters in the back. You might be surprised at what you could find. (Word of caution: stay away from the food court dumpsters. Anything new found in there is probably not going to worth salvaging).
2. Thrift Store
Nothing like one person's trash being your cheaply priced treasure. While Goodwill and other nation-wide thrift companies are all well and good, get cheaper by going to local charity-supported shops (except on Goodwill's half-price on everything Saturdays, but beware of the huge crowd you'll encounter that day). Most local-run thrift stores will have strange hours or odd locations so do a quick online search for stores in your area and check their websites or Facebook page if they have one (sometimes they'll post pictures of their newest, coolest donations and you might get first dibs on it). There's one in my town that serves as a food pantry when the shop is closed and the items there are priced cheaper than Goodwill! I bought my pull-out couch and a matching recliner for a total of $75. And because it is run by a church organization and is raising it's money for a good cause, they receive nicer, well-kept things than say Goodwill. Even stores will donate items that didn't sell so sometimes you find brand new, unopened stuff! Along with getting great prices and pretty cool stuff, you also get the added bonus of knowing you are helping and supporting your community.
C'mon now, we all do it at some point. For this reason I especially like to make December my 'spring' cleaning month in order to go through all my stuff to see what I don't want or need anymore. I also tend to save gifts I had no use for (like lotions. Cannot tell you how many unopened lotion bottles I have just waiting to be regifted). I do understand the criticism: People who regift are cheap! But you can't say you didn't expect regifting to be on a thrifty gift shopping tip list. Plus, while it may seem 'cheap' or 'scumbaggery', I can honestly tell you I only end up buying a couple gifts a year because of my stockpile of gifts ready to use. So much money saved! However there is a word of caution with this category: make sure you are not regifting the item to the same person who gave it to you in the first place. Talk about awkward! I will sometimes make notes with items I know I won't ever use and will end up regifting so then I'll know name of the person who I received it from. I also mix it up so gifts given by friends will be regifted to family and vice versa or a gift I received from my dad's side I'll regift to someone on my mom's side. Then no one will ever know! Except maybe my mom.
4. Shop In Between Seasons
This one can sometimes be tough, especially if people you shop for constantly change their minds and their likes, or end up buying it for themselves before the holidays come up. However, it can also save you money and prevent you from having to go out as much during the crazy busy shopping in December. As the name of this tip suggests, you'll have to shop just about all year round. Best times to do your shopping for the greatest of deals is during or right before the transitioning of seasons where old things are marked down and the number of clearance items double. If you know someone who mentioned something about needing a new coat for next year, get a head start and buy it when spring hits and most coats go on sale. Or maybe you have a make-up guru friend so sign up to receive notice of big sales at the beauty store and stock up. Before you know it you have gifts for nearly everyone you know by the time Thanksgiving is even here. (Though it's too late this year as it's already December, it's a good one to think about after the season passes and all the stores have their gigantic end of year sales).
5. Trade In for Credit or Cash
While you're doing spring cleaning, create yourself a pile of clothes and etc. Whatever you don't use to regift you can resell! Consignment shops will buy your clothes (if the clothes are recent and in style). Sites out there will buy your old electronics such as DeCluttr. Everything else you can take and post pictures to Facebook marketplace, Ebay, Amazon, apps (suggest you google and do a little research behind each app to see what may work best for you), etc. You may also take things in for credit. I know electronic stores such as Best Buy will give store credit or even purchase gaming systems, TVs, etc. Go to their website for specifics. Toy and game stores such as Game Xchange will do the same for games or DVDs. And bam! You turn some item you haven't touched in years into a brand new toy for your niece.
And those are the 5 unusual ways to be thrifty this season! On top of these tips, there are also the typical tips such as:
- Knowing when stores have their biggest deals (as some stores may change daily or even hourly)
- Downloading coupon apps and using them on top of store discounts (this usually is best done in-store as websites can be programmed not to use certain coupons with certain deals whereas in-store are usually better at accepting them, or even providing a different one that does work with the deal)
- Having a shopping list before you go which helps prevent over-shopping (stats say 52% of shoppers purchase something on sale on Black Friday that they later regret)
- Try to go shopping during the least busiest of hours (if you google certain stores they will provide which hours are their busiest, though that can differ with it being the shopping season now). If you go when it's not as crowded you don't feel as rushed to grab every deal you can find. You will have time to stop and think about it rather than be pressured to fight some stranger over a towel you don't need just because it's 75% off.
- Bring cash in with you instead of a card. It will force you to keep in budget so you don't overspend.
Hope some of these will help save you a couple bucks this season. If not then perhaps it at least gave you some thoughts on how to save on your own. Now go out there and be thrifty!