S H O P P I N G 101

Another trick I’ve used to save money is to be a smart shopper.  This applies to all areas of shopping.  Including, grocery, clothing, house, and pet….just to name a few.  For today let’s just start with Grocery shopping.

GROCERY

 

USE COUPONS

The simple most useful tip is to USE YOUR COUPONS!  You get them for free in the mail anyway.  Take a few minutes to look through them and see if they apply to your next grocery trip.  Though one thing you do need to be aware of is NOT to buy something just because you have a coupon.  People make this mistake all the time by thinking this way.  Think simple. If you don’t need..don’t buy it.  Who cares if you have a coupon for it.

Secondly always sign up for a free membership card with your local grocer.  You can save hundreds of dollars by signing up.  Remember you can still use corporate coupons and apply them to the savings the store may already have going on, saving you much more!  Many stores also have double coupon day.  Research in your area to see if it may apply.

TRY ETHNIC GROCERS

Another tip is to shop at alternative grocers first.  Such as local Ethnic Grocer (i.e. Asian, Indian, Hispanic)  These types of stores have a large variety of foods along with traditional items at a much lower cost that regular grocery stores.  I recommend getting all your spices at these stores.  You will get up to 10 times the amount of spice for the same price!  One example I encountered last week was at the Asian store.  I needed some Cayenne Pepper and found a 16 oz bag for only $3.75!  That is quite a deal.  Though you may note that not all spices stay fresh for long periods of time so it is wise to share the bulk with your friends and neighbors.

There are a variety of items which may be on your normal grocery list too..such as dried beans, rice and vegetables.  All these are normally available at a cheaper price.

BUY GENERIC

There is an array of choices when going to the grocery store…and name brand isn’t always the best choice.  Coming from a Marketing Background, I understand the motives and methods to this madness.  Companies have been developing Branding Strategies for years to stake their place in the food market.  For the most part you can find generic products of the same value for much less.  Though, I must add that not ALL generics are better…for ex: I haven’t found a generic Oreo competitor or Girl Scout Cookie generic.   Keep in mind for the most part it is cheaper to just buy generics when buying the basics.

BUY IN BULK!

This is another way to cut costs dramatically.  Especially if you have a family or frequently buy the same items.  Most grocers have a bulk section and it is smart to check those out first before buying anything packaged.  Items include: dried fruit, beans, grains, snacks.  Not only are these cheaper but they are usually a healthy alternative to packaged goods. 

SHOP THE CO-OP

 Another tip is to check out local Co-ops for great deals on bulk food items.  They tend to have a larger variety of goods.  http://www.organicconsumers.org/purelink.html.  People get the wrong idea by thinking Co-ops are more expensive and that is not always the case.  They have mark-downs quite often which compete if not beat the price of the large Corporate competitors.  These stores also help stimulate the local economy and generally have higher quality goods.

These are just a few tips I have as far as grocery shopping goes.  I have plenty more to share and they will be posted shortly. 

CLOTHING

BUY SECOND HAND

This may sound like a simple yet obvious tip, yet so many people don’t take it to heart.  I’ve had numerous compliments on my wardrobe style…and the majority was purchased at second-hand stores.  Most people complain about thrift stores being a bit dingy and dirty.  Yet one must realize you have to look for the gold.  It takes a certain amount of patience to scour through the racks of clothing.  In all honesty it really doesn’t take that long to look through it all.  Most stores have some sort of organization system which makes it easier to search.  The method I use when shopping is to shop at the Non-Profit Business first.  You are not only most likely to find cheaper items. you are supporting the greater good.  Some examples of shops include: Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Value Village etc.  I tend to shop at Goodwill since there are more locations.  It is also important to note that if you donate at Goodwill you receive a tax write-off along with a coupon 🙂

If I can’t find what I am looking for at Goodwill I usually hit up a local consignment shop or boutique.  These stores tend to have nicer items considering many are consignment and are reviewed by the shop owners before hung on the racks.  I usually find the majority of items I’m looking for here since they tend to cater to my style.

DON’T PAY FULL PRICE

Stores always have sales, and you are more than likely to find the item you are looking for on sale.  There is absolutely no reason to pay full price when there are websites like overstock.com and eBay.  Do your research and look for the same items at different stores and compare prices.  Other good places to shop are Retail Stores that buy overstock directly.  These include; Ross, TJ Maxx, Homegoods etc.  These are great alternatives to your typical Dept store.  Though from first hand experience I’ve bought many clothes are very discounted prices just by scanning over the sale racks at large Dept Stores.

Also pay attention to the time of year and the clothes you buy.  Winter clothes are always cheaper to buy in the Spring and summer and vice versa.  You can find amazing deals on brand new items by shopping for them in off seasons.

Last but not least a great way to clean out the closet and fill it up at the same time is to have a clothing swap.  You can even do it on a small-scale with just your friends, co-workers, and roommates.  If you feel ambitious you can organize a neighborhood or school swap. 

INVEST IN A SEWING MACHINE

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a great pair of jeans that were just too long!  This is why I learned to hem my own pants.  It is super easy and fast.  You shouldn’t have to spend 25 bucks to get a pair of jeans hemmed.  Also, you never know who it’s going to turn out.  Altering your own clothes allows you to be in control and fix it to your liking.  Simply go online and google a video on how to do it, and you will be amazed how easy it is.  It’s great to be able to wear that favorite blouse again…now that you got it to fit. 🙂

Also I’ve used my machine to fix tears, make simple Halloween costumes, hem curtains, and alter my boyfriends shirts.  Many people simple throw out a perfectly good shirt because it doesn’t fit.  So get a sewing machine. It will quickly pay itself off once you learn out to use it.

This is pretty much process I go through when buying new clothes.  I’ve saved so much money yet I’ve been able to complete my wardrobe to my liking…without putting a hole in my wallet.  An added benefit to thrift store shopping is the unlikely hood of someone else sporting the same shirt as you.  The problem with large Dept. Stores is the lack of variety and mass production.  If you are looking to find your own sense of style…shop thrifty 🙂

HOUSE

Now that I live in a single family home with my boyfriend I’ve come to enjoy the duties of decorating and furnishing a home.  This is one of my favorite areas to shop for since I find such great deals at next to nothing!  This may be a repeat of what I mentioned earlier but I first look into Goodwill stores and second hand shops.  These stores work great for finding kitchen supies such as pyrex, silverware, glassware, pots and pans.  I find almost everything I need at thrift stores for a great prices.  This allows me to create a distinct look and decor to my house without looking like everyone elses or buying items everyone gets at typical Dept. Stores.  Along side with shopping at second hand stores I look on craigslist or “freecycle” http://www.freecycle.org/.  I tend to look for bigger items such as furniture or gardening tools on these cites.  Craigslist can be a bit sketchy at times but you can also find great deals.  As for freecycle it’s pretty amazing.  The groups are divided by geographic location and each memeber must be approved by a moderator.  Postings are also filtered and moderated which creates a more realiable user friendly site.

If I can’t find what I need with these methods I shop at Homegoods, Ross or TJ MAXX.  I like Homegoods and Ross the most since their items tend to be much cheaper than TJ MAXX.  Honestly there are some things you just don’t wanna buy used or you just can’t find at thrift stores.

When buying used furniture it’s important to think about things as projects.  You can find a solid piece of quality furniture that may only need a little sanding and some paint to finish off.  Or think about things you already have lying around your house.  There are so many things that can be repurposed for other uses.  Here is a good site for DIY http://www.designspongeonline.com/category/diy-projects ( This is where I found how to make my kitty scratcher 🙂  I’ve found that re-purposing items is a great way to recycle without spending money and contributing to an eco-friendly lifestyle.  Such items include old jars with lids.  I almost buy necessary items based on the jars they come in!  I use these jars to store bulk spices, beans, homemade granola, cereal, and misc bulk items.  I also use old plastic containers as Tupperware.  There is absolutely no reason to buy Tupperware these days.   Plus, it’s great to store food you make for friends and family.   You will never be wondering where your “Tupperware” went since you’re more than likely have too many extras to know what to do with.  You can also use them as potters for plants by poking holes in the bottom.

A great way to organize and store items is to use boxes or baskets you already have around the house.  These can be spiced up with a little paper mache, wallpaper, paper, gift wrap or paint.  Why go out and spend 10 bucks on a “pretty” cardboard box when you can “pretty it up” yourself.  Boxes are also a great way to hide clutter and keep things organized as well.

COMPOST

Composting is great for the environment, garden, and your garbage.  If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables you may notice that most of what’s in your garbage can be composted or recycled.  At our house we compost and recycle more than we throw away.  This should be the case if every household.  Here is a site with a more detailed description on how to compost. http://www.dnr.wi.gov/org/aw/wm/recycle/homecompost.htm.  I just made my bin out of some old scrap wood we had from demolishing our basement.  It doesn’t have to be anything special.  Just something to keep everything contained.  From there just compost away!  You may even save on garbage cost by only having it collected once a month.

MAKE-UP

This area is a bit tricky but there are certain ways to shop for make-up to get the most bang for your buck.  It seems these days that there are just too many different types of make-up to pick through.  For me, “designer” is NOT always better.  There are certain things I personally like to pay more for such as foundation.  Other than that I find that Drug Stores or Retailers like Target have everything I need.  I am also VERY picky when it comes to choosing mascara and have become very brand loyal.  

So a tip I have for buying make-up is to either buy when it’s on sale.  There are so many deals where you can get two for one or at least a 20% off coupon.  Buy in bulk if you love a particular brand considering you KNOW you are going to use it at some point.  Tip number 2 is to buy during bonus sales.  If you are the type that loves designer make-up then this is the best way to go.  You get so many free goodies that it makes the purchase somewhat worth it.  This goes to say you should NEVER have to buy another make-up bag since they give so many away during those sales.  Always remember…don’t buy more than you need just to get the free stuff.  You may be better off just buying the goodies separately for less if that is the only reason you are shopping in the first place.   If you don’t have time to shop…online tends to have greats deals on items if you know what you are looking for.

The last tip I must communicate to you is to READ HOW MUCH MAKE-UP YOU ARE ACTUALLY PAYING FOR.  So many people just assume since the packaging is bigger than you get more product..WRONG!  Always look at the finer details when buying anything…this includes groceries.  When I am debating between two items I like this is usually the deal breaker.  Buy the one that cost less per ounce.  Most retailers have this posted on their price makers.  Don’t fall victim to Marketing Ploy ever again!

Since we are on this topic anyhow here are a list of my cost friendly favs:

Maybelline “unstoppable” eyeliner

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Revlon Colorstay eyeliner

Maybelline “Volum” Express Turbo Boost Mascara (waterproof)

Sephora “Matifying Compact Foundation”

                               or

Korres “Matifying or Compact” Powder

These are a few of the basics I rotate through depending on availability and price.  It is also important to note that I usually go for non-irratating products since I have sensitive skin.  I also try to go eco-friendly when buying make-up but have found it difficult to find the quality I want.  So if you readers have any suggestions feel free to write anytime!

I am also working on finding good recipes for natural beauty remedies you can make at home.  I try to stick to natural products when I can.

Here are some natural products I’ve found to work well:

Earth Science natural Deodorant: I’ve tried many different deodorants that don’t contain aluminum and this one seems to work best for order control

Avalon Organics (Vitamin C): This is a great clarifying toner that won’t break the bank and it lasts a long time

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