How to Buy Stuff Cheap 101Jul 15, 2010 Write an essay on this topic.
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I own rental property in a town that is about 50 miles away from my home. I asked my handyman to do some repairs during the summer, while the tenants were away. Nothing major - mostly updating stuff like the bathroom floors, painting, new hardware and some electrical work. Being that the property is so far away, I authorized the handyman (a buddy of mine) to buy whatever he needs to get the job done and give me the receipts afterwards.
Fortunately for me, this guy is one of those guys who likes to get paid each week and he also gave me receipts for reimbursement. His labor rate is very reasonable for me to pay. However, his shopping skills stink! He bought all supplies at retail marked up prices and worse yet, at local hardware stores where the prices are a lot higher. I put a quick curb on the alacarte spending, took a day off from work, and shopped for the bulk of the supplies needed myself and dropped them off at the rental property. I save a small fortune!
It makes me wonder about people, sometimes, how they can complain about not having money all the time and not learn the basics of how to save money. I figured I would put together an Epinions essay with tips on how to save some money when buying stuff. These tips should work on just about any purchase for any product that can be bought in a store or online!
First of all, if you know you are going to need to buy something in the future, plan ahead! For instance, I knew I was eventually going to have to redo the bathroom floors in the rental property I was fixing up. I began looking around in the various stores nearby me - and even while visiting stores in other towns. I compared products and prices. The existing flooring was a cheap laminate flooring that had to go. I wanted something durable and waterproof. I decided on ceramic tile. The prices in the stores I shopped out had ceramic tile for sale in the price range of $1 to well over $10 per square foot! I needed over 120 square feet of tile (for both bathrooms). I kept in mind that the lowest price I found for quality tile is $1 square foot, so I used that to compare. With good luck, one day I was in Lowes and they were clearing out 1' X 1' ceramic floor tile for only $0.27 each!!!! Wow! I was able to save a mighty bundle! (And, even more, as I will explain shortly...). Do you want to get a new refrigerator? New carpeting? New windows or doors? How about a new suit or dress for a special event scheduled a few months out? Just plan ahead!
While on vacation several years ago with my wife and another couple, we decided we'd go out for some ice cream. While driving, I was flipping through a local vacation guide and happened to find a coupon for buy one get one free for the ice cream store we were heading to. I mentioned it to my wife, and my wife's friend's husband who we were vacationing with overheard. "I'm not using any coupons! That's being cheap! I'm on vacation!" Later, my wife's friend got divorced from this guy due to financial hardships....
Always use coupons! Why pay more for something if you don't have to? Rest assured the store that is advertising is not going to loose much money if you use the coupon. Always remember this old cliche: "A fool and his money are easily parted". Search for coupons! They are available all over the place: Online coupon websites, newspapers, brochures. If you can't find any, call or visit the store and ask them if they have any coupon offers available and where you can obtain them!
There are a ton of coupon online websites out there! Just use a search engine and search for: (The Store Name) and coupon. You will get dozens of web sites!
It is a "dog eat dog" world in the retail business these days! Many stores are bidding to stay in business and will do seemingly anything to bring customers to their store. Most of the major retails offer price matching - find the same item for a lower price and the store will either match, or better yet, beat the price by 10% of the difference! This can be a golden ticket! Search online for the item from the store that makes this type of offer. Use one of those online shopping price guides to find the lowest prices. Also, there are web sites that provide Sunday newspaper advertisements online - browse through them. Any stores add can be used in one of these stores that match prices.
I needed to get some 15 Amp GFI outlets for the bathrooms I was having refurbished. The stores I typically shop in sold these devices for well over $8. I found an online advertisement for only $6.96. Lowes gave me 10% off that price price! Wow!
By dumb luck, I was having a conversation with a friend I bumped into while at Lowes. We were standing at the Commercial Sales desk and I told him I was shopping for veneer stone for a project I was working on, but the prices were far to expensive at Lowes at the present time. A sales associate overheard my comments and he told me that if I wanted a better price, the Commercial Sales team could do some research during the week and find me a better price - even if they don't carry the product!!!!
Also, don't always assume the big box stores have the best prices! This is hardly ever true! I shop in the smaller hardware stores all the time and snap up their special sales all the time! Also, lumber mills typically sell better lumber at lower prices than the box stores! You can use online search engines to locate dealers, specialty stores, and other vendors for the items you wish to buy. This is especially true for consumable products and products, such as plants, that are seasonal.
Sometimes those "come-ons" advertised at the big box stores can actually be a good deal! I paid a carpenter buddy to put in replacement windows that I bought at the Home Depot at my rental property. When all was finished, it ended up costing me about $200 for each window, plus the cost of the window for four windows. Had I taken advantage of the Home Depot installation offer, it would have cost me far less!
Do you need a new patio furniture set? How about pool supplies? Summer clothes? Plants? The best time to buy such things to get the best prices is at the end of the season. Last year, I was able to get my new patio furniture cushions for 75% off of the original price! I gave the manager of a local plant nursery my name and phone number to call me at the end of October so that I could buy up trees at 90% off the original price. I take a few days off to plant trees in my yard - at the best time to plant them (in my opinion).
Get to stores early on Saturday morning or better yet, later Friday evening, just before the stores close. The stores like to put out deep discounted stuff they are clearing out. I was able to get some big name major appliance for 50% off (display models and such). Ask the sales manager at the store to get information about how they clear out their merchandise.
Odds and Ends
I hardly ever pay retail prices for anything! I shop around and compare prices. I also do not buy junk! Remember: Cheaply made stuff sold at low prices is not a bargain! Never! Earlier in the summer, I bought my daughter a pair of swimming goggles at the dollar store for $1. These were child goggles that looked to be well made. However, after only one use, the elastic string broke. I went back and bought another pair, and the same thing happened. Yet, I have a pair of Speedo goggles that I bought back in the 1980's for about $10 that have lasted for hundreds of swims in the pool and even the ocean!
This leads me to my final bit of advice: If you do get stuck buying junk, don't settle for it! Take it back to the store and get your money back! I keep all of my receipts and packaging for items I buy. If the item does not work well for me, back to the store it goes! I hardly ever have any problems getting my money back.
I hope this helps you save some money! By the way, those $0.27 ceramic tiles I purchased at Lowes actually cost me less than that! I had a 10% off coupon I picked up! So the tile for two bathrooms altogether cost me only $29.20 (+tax)!!! Beat that! (Best wishes!)
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