Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Smart Tips to Shop Frugally

Guest post by Jack Reed

The need for being innovative and coming up with new ideas to save your hard earned cash has hit an all time high today. With a large number of Americans resorting to debt settlement to settle their debt woes, many are realizing the importance of frugal living and taking advantage of the money-saving opportunities in life. Spending less than you earn helps you to meet all your financial goals and what’s more, it keeps you away from debts!

Perhaps the greatest urge to spend money develops when one goes for shopping. With credit cards in wide use today, the impulse to splurge money while shopping is on the rise. Therefore, keeping some smart tips in mind while you go out to shop can help you save your hard earned dollars. Keep the following points in mind the next time you step out to shop:

1)Plan: This is very important. Decide what you really need to buy. Often, you go to a departmental store and end up purchasing things that you do not really require. Say you just go for an outing to a mall with your friends where a $200 jean strikes your fancy and you end up buying it. Thus chalking out a plan of what you really need to buy can save you a lot of money.

2)Control impulse purchases: Since impulse purchases can cause you to spend much, give time to yourself. You might come across an item which you ‘think’ you need. The best way then is to give time to yourself. Often after a day or two, you give up the idea of buying that item. It means you never really required it, thus this can be a good way to control your unnecessary expenses.

3)Make use of coupons: Coupon inserts can be found in most Sunday newspapers. Start collecting coupons; it really begins to pay off after a month or so. At the end of one month, a couponer should be able to take advantage of several excellent deals at multiple stores every week.

4)Use secondhand items: Look out for thrift stores and consignment shops. You can save hundreds of dollars over the years by purchasing used items such as different kinds of furniture, books etc. from such stores.

5)Buying online: You can google and find out where in the local market you can find the products you are looking for. Local markets and online auction sites are a good source where you can get things at a cheaper rate. The internet is also an easy way to learn and compare prices before you decide to spend your money.

6)Avoid brands: You do not want to pay for the brand but for the item that you require. Why pay a high price for something when you can get the same thing at a much cheaper rate by going generic? Don’t be brand conscious. This can really help you get steep discounts in your purchases.

7)Stop keeping up with the Joneses: Many people try to purchase brands even if they cannot afford it. This provides them an ego boost. If your neighbor is well off financially, you might go buy something expensive to escape feeling inferior! You should get rid of this mindset right away. Finding ways to cut your expenses is a sign of financial wisdom and paves your path for a better tomorrow.

8)Do not carry credit cards: This is a complete no-no! Carrying credit cards while shopping can tempt you for impulse buys. Often, the feel of a credit card is as if it is not real money. That feeling makes it easy to spend too much, as the credit card company pays for your purchases.

It is unwise to consider frugal living as a financial handcuff. Frugal shopping is not about making sacrifices or feeling deprived. On the contrary, it is smart shopping! When you plan to weed out unnecessary expenditure, you develop a sense of financial discipline. So get geared up and start to paint a better financial picture of yourself!

Jack Reed is a financial writer with Oak View Law Group. He offers advice to people on various debt related issues. He can be contacted at jackrd3[@]gmail(dot)com


  1. And when your done shopping you can use your plastic bags to make tote bags! They are heavy duty enough to hold several heavy items like wet bathing suites and towels, books for school, and even groceries!

    I saw one today from a woman I work with and I was soooo excited that I came home and collected ALL my plastic bags that I had stuck under my kitchen sink in order to make several!!!!

    the tote bags when completed are VERY IMPRESSIVE! Why buy reusable bags when you can make your own by recycling your plastic bags?

  2. And I also wanted to add that while you are out shopping DON'T FORGET that you can buy seasonal fruit inexpensive and start making your own jellies and jams, chutney and even fruited homemade liquors! Get your Christmas List ready and start making your homemade products while the fruits are in season and inexpensive! Why rush at the Christmas Season when you can do it now while the lazy hazy days of summer are upon us?

  3. And just one more bit of advice!
    Watch your flowers bloom but pick them before they die off and dry them. You can make your own potpourri this way! Put them in a pretty basket and you will have your blooms almost forever! This can also be a great gift for someone on your list!

  4. One more comment...did you buy seeds this year for your garden? If so you can recycle the top half of the seed packets into gift tags! Just cut them in the shape you want or you can leave them square and write on the blank back of them! Really start saving now for the season up ahead! Frugal living is really all about planning ahead!!! This way you won't spend money on items you really don't need to spend money on!!

  5. Good thoughts on frugality!

    Buy in bulk when items you know you will use is on sale. I love to have a supply of things in my pantry from which to shop and a small stash of gift items on hand for those I will be giving to in the future.

    As far as credit cards, now that I've mastered them, instead of being their servant, I am actually making money from them.

    My husband and I use Discover cards on which we charge our gas, groceries, home improvement and travel expenses, things we would be buying whether we had a credit card or not. We pay off the balance each month and have not paid a dime in interest or fees in years. We have however, received rewards money back from the company, sometimes up to 5% of our purchases. Every time our rewards balance gets up to $50, we can transfer it to our checking account. THEY ARE PAYING US!!We've actually made several hundred dollars over the past few years. Once instead of cash, I got a gift certificate to a restaurant that was worth $5 more than the rewards (cash in $45 in rewards for a $50 gift certificate), so we had a nice family outing totally free, paid for by Discover.


  6. I have a friend who pays with credit cards and pays them off every month. She pays her daycare and all her monthly expenses on it BUT she pays the credit card amount off every month! She earns cash back and points towards retail shops. At Christmas she uses the points and cash to buy her Christmas presents. She hasn't spent money on Christmas presents in years but has great Christmases every year!