I’m not ashamed to say I enter a store determined on whether I can spot a red light. You know the ones that sit high up above all the items and lets you know that there is a possibility of finding a dress for next summer or a box full of pretty plates with just one missing. And more likely than not, I will be paying nowhere near the full price for these items.
When I enter a store, I’m just the same. I identify those signs high up that spell “Clearance” and that’s where my legs take me. 30% off full priced items? I think not. 50% off the already reduced price is more my thing.
I should tell you. It’s genetic.
My mum is the ultimate bargain hunter. When my family moved from Egypt, (prior to having me) it wasn’t with much. My Dad worked long and hard. He caught a train at 4:30am and usually never arrived home until 6pm. He worked some weekends too.
My mum was the shopper of the house. She made it work. She hardly ever bought things at full price. And now, as I raise my own family, I follow in her footsteps. With a mortgage to pay, a child underfoot and one wage, it’s not easy. But we make it work.
I now find myself doing all the things my mother taught me. She never specifically taught me how to do it, but I learnt through observation and now, when we shop together, there’s a little competitive edge to see who can nab the best bargains. And even when we’re not together, sometimes I purposely take things I’ve bought to show her and then the game starts…”So how much do you think I paid for this?”
Even though it’s definitely in the blood, if you think you need to save then here are my top tips, some passed down to me, to retrain your eye to shop bargain and bargain only.
Don’t meal plan.
I know, I know. Everywhere you look there’s pretty meal planners for mums that hang on walls and sit in diaries. But what happens when you go to the supermarket and what you need to buy isn’t in season or on sale? I like to head to our local supermarket on its ‘market day’ and shop then. I look at what meat is on sale, use that as my base and plan meals around that. I might buy a couple of items that aren’t on sale but I tend to only buy things like meat, cheese and fruits that are on sale at the time. And if I don’t NEED cheese, I buy it anyway. The other block is going to run out eventually right!?
Buy for the season after.
See these clothes? I bought them at $3 each. True story. Over Christmas while holidaying. Obviously that was the middle of summer so I haven’t worn them but they’re going to come in handy when the Autumn weather (finally) kicks in!
There is nothing more expensive then getting to the beginning of winter and realising you need a new coat or a pair of leather boots. Your chances of finding them on sale are slim to none.
Online is your friend.
Obviously this isn’t one of my mum’s tips because it wasn’t around for her. But online is your friend if you are careful. Don’t pay serious amounts of shipping. Or better yet, don’t pay shipping at all! Research your options and always compare to buying in-store. Ebay, Gumtree and your local Buy, Swap, Sell pages on Facebook are the bee’s knees. See these lights for our new home? $100 for 3 sets, still in the box. Another true story.
Check where your money is
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Revisiting things like health insurance, phone plans and other sneaky little things that whittle your fortnightly payments away is something I do regularly. This is good to do when you get one of those letters where you only read the part saying they are raising your fees to x amount, and ignore all the bits where they are trying to justify it.
That’s when it’s time to say, “do we really need this? Is there a cheaper alternative if we do?”
Be a debt hater
My mum HATES debt. If she ever had to use a credit card it was for emergencies only and she always paid it before it got out of hand or accumulated ridiculous amounts of interest. She got on top of it super fast and paid it off. I am a debt hater too now. I try to get rid of it before I’m carrying a mountain of debt.
My friends tease me for being such a bargain hunter. My husband shakes his head in amazement. And my mum, she beams with pride. It’s all about stretching those dollars. That’s what matters.
What do you do to stretch those dollars?