Shopping on a Serious Budget

Shopping is not always one of my favorite things to do. I understand why so many men sit to the side while their wives, or significant others, go and do most of the shopping. I like to get my stuff and get out quickly. I don’t want to linger in stores. There’s a place near where I live, a non-profit that sells markdown items with the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project. It’s one of my favorite stores because I can get various items there for significantly less than I can anywhere else. I hadn’t been in several weeks. Something told me I needed to go on Saturday, so I went. I was so excited about what I found that I have to share it.


My job does not have a lot of lovely items in the store. Just about everything in the store is second-hand items. A vast majority comes from Wal-Mart and other stores where the merchandise was slightly damaged, like the outer boxes. One of the items in my office includes the chairs that I sit on and my assistant uses. There are three chairs in the office. Every single one of them is broken. I started looking online for a decent chair. Everybody wanted $100 bucks or more. When I went to REA, I found my chair for $50. It usually retails for $300. They only had two of them, and I knew that I’d better get it while I could. It’s in my office now, and I am incredibly excited. At least I won’t sink to the floor every time my butt hits the chair.


I like quality products. The price tag that goes along with most products is often high, but I am willing to pay more if it means that the product is of good quality. I also search online and everywhere else around me for the best deals possible. For instance, stores like Sprouts, a grocery store, often have a sampling program for a loyalty reward. I signed up through them for that particular service. I can now try a variety of reasonably expensive products before I ever buy them. They had an acai powder that goes into the water that you drink as one of the samples. After I tried it, I knew that I was not too fond of the product. That was one item that I knew I would not continue to buy; however, there are many other products that I was able to sample that I would buy. Sales, coupons, and loyalty rewards are your best friend. Word-of-mouth by other friends is also extremely helpful when trying to save money and shop.


I found out from an excellent friend of mine about the store where I got my chair through word-of-mouth. Had Debbie never introduced me to REA, I would not have known they existed. I have obtained canned goods items of everyday use and other products like windshield wipers, car seat covers, Oil of Olay products, and many other products significantly lower than regular stores. Salvage and Thrift Stores offer better deals than many other stores, and you never know what you will find there. You might want to shop around before you ever step foot in a store.


Know what your budget is. Money is always tight for me, but I have to stick to my budget or risk financial struggles. We use some items on an everyday basis that it doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or not. But then again, there are also items that we occasionally use that we want to make sure last a long time. I don’t need a box of Kleenex to last a year. But I like to have some on hand if they are needed. The dollar store brand works just as well as the expensive ones. They might not be as soft, but they work.


One of the sites I’ve found said that people should shop for non-perishable items online. I agree with this, and I’m afraid I have to disagree with it all simultaneously. Window shopping online is wise. It gives you a chance to see items on sale in print to know what the best deal is going to be. The danger is that sometimes Internet sales are not always the best deals. If you want top-quality, you have to be willing to look around. The pandemic did not take away all the salvage and thrift stores. There are still quite a few in business, and they save people a lot of money. Some of those salvage and thrift stores work with non-profits, so what you’re buying helps those non-profits help other people in need.
Another tip I found was to buy perishable foods and quantities you’ll use. If you are the type of person to buy in bulk from places like Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, etc., you may not need all the perishable items that come with your purchase. You want to make sure that you’re buying what you’ll use. If you buy something to throw it out, it’s not saving you money.


I also heard of buying meat and cereals in bulk. That’s a smart option if you have the means to store them correctly. But if you only have a limited amount of freezer space, then the meat you buy in bulk may not be the best option. If you don’t have a good set of Tupperware type of containers that can hold your cereal, your cereal will become stale, so you want to make sure you have a way to protect your purchases.


The key is just to be informed. Listen, if you’re the type of person with all kinds of shopping needs, you know you have to look around for the best prices. If you have an ample family, chances are you penny-pinch on everything. I clip coupons all the time, but I have to be wary because those coupons have minimal expiration dates. I try to coordinate those coupons along with sales, but I’m not always successful.


And one of my favorite ways to penny-pinch and save is to do fun things with the leftovers. You can always create dishes with leftover chicken or steak or anything along those lines to do something different. The key is to use your imagination.


I hope this Monday allows you to do some research for yourself and do a little shopping. No one says you have to buy but educating yourself on things you may want or need is always a great way to start the day. Have a great Monday, everyone.

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