Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saving Money Series: All of the Other Shopping

Alright, let's be real.  Not all of your shopping is done in the grocery store out of your grocery budget.  In fact, although grocery couponing and the thrill of it has made my grocery shopping much more enjoyable, these aren't my favorite deals to get.  No, the deals I really enjoy are those I get in other kinds of stores or online.  Some of my favorites:  Old Navy, Kohls, Macy's (occasionally), Target, Amazon, The Children's Place (especially recently), and deal site deals.  This list is by no means all inclusive.  I've found you can't be store loyal (or picky) to get good deals on all of the other 'life essentials', and sometimes it means checking out stores you didn't even know about or stores you didn't think you'd like.

So what are the tips here?  Well, if you're looking to buy in the store:

  • Watch clearances and sales like a hawk.  I follow a whole list of blogs (listed to the left), that often clue me in on when chain stores are getting ready to clearance their items.  The more you follow, the more you know ahead of time when you should wait and when you should buy.  For example, this time of year, winter clothes are on major clearance as stores are clearing out their winter attire to make room for spring! (Make sure you also check for the 'extra' clearance sales too!  Old Navy often has 50% off already reduced clearance prices.  My last Old Navy trip ran during one of these sales and I literally spent around $17 for 11 kid items!  One of which was a winter coat for Ansley for next year!  I don't know that you could do that well at a yard sale!) (EDIT:  I actually went back yesterday, and with their current 30% off sale, I got Ansley's Christmas pajamas - a family tradition - and two long sleeved shirts for Bryton next year for $6.)
  • That brings me to my next point.  Plan ahead!  I start buying for next year's Christmas in January.  I do try to buy things people want and things I think they would enjoy.  This year I even made myself a spreadsheet of all of the birthdays, special events, holidays, etc in each month, and left spots so I could record each purchase I make and how much I spent.  This allows me to know ahead of time what I have so I don't forget about things and over-shop.  This mindset also works with clothing.  I buy most of our kids' clothing in the off season, leaving me very little I have to buy when the time actually comes around.  
  • Collect paper coupons out of magazines, newspaper inserts, and print them online.  Take these coupons with you when you shop to maximize your savings!  Think more bang for your buck!
  • Think coupons for restaurants!  Seriously! We love eating at Steak n Shake on weekends when kids eat free and we can both use coupons for our meal.  It's nothing for us all 3 to eat and leave paying around $10 for a sit down eating experience.  It makes our misc. envelope last much longer!  

  • Think coupon codes!  If you order from places once, chances are you'll be getting those coupon codes in your email soon.  Another place to find them?  You can google search to see if any codes are available at the time, or you can visit sites such as Retail Me Not where you can search by store for active coupon codes.   Many stores allow you to use more than one coupon code during check out, especially if one is for a percentage off and one is for free shipping!  It doesn't hurt to try! 
  • Shop through places like Ebates (get $5 cash just for signing up!) or Shop at Home and earn percentages back on your purchases all over the web! You can stack this with coupon codes so it makes your purchases that much cheaper!  
  • Daily Deal sites are your friend!  I'm a firm believer in sites such as Groupon because you can score such great deals (and not only from your selected city!).  I've purchased 5 groupons recently, one for a Build a Bear purchase (that was ultimately free because I had a $10 credit, and got us 2 free bears after the cost of the groupon!), a movie ticket purchase (that required some customer service support from groupon because the company who sponsored the groupon went under... and groupon's customer service is outstanding), I bought two different groupons ($20 total), which basically got us all our halloween costumes for free (after the cost of the groupon), and I recently bought, from another deal site, a $20 amazon gift card for $10!  It seems like there are always national photo deals to be had as well!  Very much worth looking into! (Plus there are a ton of other daily deal sites you may hear me mention on this very blog!  Eversave is mentioned at the bottom of this blog!)
  • Swagbucks.  If I've said it once I've said it 1000 times.  You get free money with swagbucks through gift cards.  It takes seconds of your day.  You won't get rich, but it'll cover the cost of those splurge items, or for us, Christmas gifts and diapers :)  Click on the link on the left to go sign up.  Just use swagbucks as your search engine and start earning bucks.  450 swagbucks earns you one $5 Amazon gift card (which stores in your amazon account.)
  • Pair coupon codes with special sales.  For example, I recently purchased from The Children's Place online because they had a 60% off Monster sale going on, free shipping, and I had coupon codes.  When I stacked those I got amazing deals.  In fact, I got B a sweater, a sweatshirt, and a flannel shirt for the fall for $14 shipped to my door.  You can't beat that.  
So don't just coupon in your grocery store.  Make sure you spread your savings around all the other places you shop as well!  

ADDED:  If you have never joined Eversave, today is the day.  Find the link on my facebook page to go straight to today's save (and sign up if you need to), as Parenting Magazine is for sale at $5 for a two year subscription.  These can be bought as gifts (think cheap baby shower gift!) or can be bought for yourself!  The greatest part, if you are a new eversave user you can receive $2 in credit making the cost only $3 for a two year subscription!  AND - these magazines have been responsible for several of the amazon coupon codes for diapers that are stackable with the subscribe and save offers!  You can't beat that!  These are exactly the deals I'm talking about! 


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