How to shop smarter

The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.
~Mad Magazine

Supposedly we all “vote with our dollars.” True to some extent, anyway. There will always be those people who believe that if you can’t get it at Wal-mart, you don’t need it. And of course, while I would love to buy the locally and humanely raised beef sold at the farmer’s market, well, it’s a wee bit out of my price range. Most things are at the moment.

So here are a few things I do to shop smarter.

  • Used.  Usedusedusedused.  I love used shit.  Craigslist, eBay, Goodwill.
  • I shop anywhere but Wal-mart.  I try to avoid Target, too, but as tight as my budget is, sometimes I can’t avoid it.  There’s really no where else to go to when your keyboard breaks at nine PM and you have all of ten bucks.
  • Specialty stores.  There are stores that sell only vacuums, and stores that sell only sporting equipment.  Most of these aren’t chains and if they are, they’re small chains.
  • Mom ‘n Pop stores.  I used to work at one.  Yes, the prices are higher, but the service more than makes up for it.  And more of the money stays in the community.
  • On that note, buy in person.  Buying online only sends money outside of your area.
  • Check for programs that promote locally made items. Go Texan. is a good example. Buy more of this type of stuff.
  • Read the ingredient labels on food.
  • If plastic bothers you, see if you can find an alternative that isn’t plastic.  Pay attention to what you buy and notice what everything is made of.  You’d be surprised how many things you pick up and don’t think about that are made of plastic.
  • Go without.  Do you really need that?  Can you borrow it from a friend?
  • Buy it handmade from Etsy or from a local artisan.  Mall jewelers are boring and scarves bought at Wal-mart even more so.
  • Naturally, make it a point to seek out quality items that are going to last a while.  Keep in mind some consumer electronics are being made to purposefully break.
  • Avoid impulse buying…of anything.  If it’s not on your shopping list the moment you walk in the door, don’t buy it.  This includes snacks and “treats.”
  • When making a large purchase, save up the money instead of buying on credit.  You’ll save money on interest, and may even find that you don’t really need the item, after all.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

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2 Responses to “How to shop smarter”

  1. Craig Says:

    I’d suggest adding the following:

    – “Learn to look around for a better deal”
    – “Try to anticipate your needs so that you can buy things when you see a good deal” (Buying seasonal items out of season for example, or knowing you will want/need something in the next 12 months, and managing to find it for 50% off 6 months ahead of time)

    You may not always be able to find the same item cheaper, but there is probably a good chance that a little searching around, either online, locally or a combination of both will be able to yield some savings when compared to the first price you encounter.

  2. Plan food purchases around what’s on sale and use coupons.

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