Part 5: Save on the Fun Things
Finally, a topic that we actually WANT to think about. Or maybe that’s just me. Saving on the all the things we MUST spend money on–important as it may be–is, well, somewhat tedious, to say the least.
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(NOTE: Before we go any further, if you are new to my blog or missed out on the last four weeks, you might want to start at Week 1: Stop Spending before starting this week’s assignment!)
If we’re being perfectly honest, which of these two scenarios would make you do the happy dance:
a.) You were able to negotiate a .3 percentage point drop in your mortgage rate
b.) You found the cutest pair of designer shoes that ever existed on clearance for 90% off AND you had an additional 10% off coupon AND the only pair left was in your size. It was like the heavens opened up and the shoe gods named you the Chosen One.
(Hint: If you picked (a), this might be the wrong guide to savings for you.)
But there is a very important distinction between (a) and (b). The first scenario is an actual savings–additional money in your pocket that would otherwise be gone. The second scenario, while a “good deal,” is NOT really saving you any money. Those perfect shoes will still cost you something, even if it is far less than the original price. You are spending, not saving.
Last week we methodically tackled saving on all those pesky things we have to spend money on each month–food, utilities, & gas–whether we want to or not. Hopefully once you started looking, you found that there were plenty of tweaks you could make to squeeze the most out of your budget.
This week we are going to focus on saving money on the things we want to buy, but don’t necessarily need to buy. (Remember the exercise from Week One?) Because let’s face it, although the most obvious answer to saving money in this category is simply to stop spending money on things we don’t need, it’s probably not a very realistic option for most people, including me. I like pretty things far too much.
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? As hard as it may be (especially for those of us who want instant gratification) there is a very simple way to save on everything you buy:
Wait for the best price.
Everything goes on sale eventually, it is just a matter of being patient.
It is such a simple concept and yet so hard to follow sometimes, even for me. In fact, I had a glaring reminder of this rule just this morning, when I discovered that the EXACT pair of Lelli Kelly shoes I bought for my daughter Maggie just 2 months ago are now available at at a discount shoe site for less than half of what I paid. So why didn’t I wait? Her shoe situation was certainly not a dire need. I was just impatient. Let’s hope I can learn from my mistake!
This week’s assignment:
1. Stop shopping mindlessly.
If this one doesn’t apply to you, feel free to skip to #2, but for some of us (and we know who we are) shopping is more than just a means to an end, it is how we fill our time. But no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we’re “just looking,” or “window shopping,” eventually the temptation becomes too great and we buy things we not only don’t need, we end up with things we don’t even really want. And no matter how good the sale, if we buy something we don’t need OR want, it isn’t a good deal and we are NOT saving money! Save your pennies for the things you want, and find another way to fill your day!
2. Figure out what you really want
Make a list of all the things you want to buy. Clothes, shoes, a flat screen TV, shoes, a KitchenAid blender, shoes, professional family portraits, shoes, a new couch, etc. Oh, and did I mention shoes? Next to each item, indicate how soon you want/need it, (i.e. “sometime in the next 5 years,” “for my cousin’s wedding next week,” “this October.”), as well as how much you want to spend. The goal is to aim low, not high, giving yourself a goal to shoot for and a reason NOT to spend more than you have to. Try to limit your list to no more than 15 items at a time. If something doesn’t make your top 15, then you probably don’t want it that badly! Save your money for the things you truly want.
3. Be on the lookout for good deals!
This is more of an ongoing assignment. Wish list in hand, you are now free to search for bargains. But BE CAREFUL. There are always going to be more bargains available than you can afford to spend. Stick to the list and to the things you really want. Diligence truly does pay off, and if you continue looking, you will almost always find what you want at a price you like. The internet is almost an endless source of bargains, but here are some of my favorite places to look for deals:
Amazon.com Gold Box–I have found some of my best deals this way, including the super-awesome Epson MovieMate DVD projector we waited months for! Their Deals of the Day and Lightning Deals often feature products for 75% or more off the regular retail price. Even better, you can sign up for Amazon Mom (for free!) and get free 2 day shipping on almost everything.
Amazon.com is also one of my favorite places to find great deals on shoes and clothing. The choices can seem overwhelming at first, but you can narrow your search by size, color, and discount % to find only the very best deals in your perfect size!
Ebates–If you do any online shopping at all, using Ebates to get cash back on all your purchases is simply a no-brainer. However, Ebates also frequently features “Daily Double” specials that can mean huge discounts on a wide variety of items. When you sign up you will automatically receive their daily email, which is a great way to keep track of the specials!
Target .Com Daily Deals-who doesn’t love Target? Their daily deals are often nothing short of amazing AND shipping is free!
Craigslist-I have found some amazing deals on Craigslist, but usually only after a LOT of searching. I have the most success when I am looking for something specific, and then search daily until I find it. Don’t be afraid to negotiate either, even if the price is low. Unless it’s free, it can always go lower!
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See, wasn’t this week a lot more fun? (That’s because shopping under the guise of “saving money” is always more fun than cracking down!) Stay tuned for another next week’s saving challenge next Wednesday and don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing! Where are your favorite places to score a bargain on the things you want?
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