In my experience as a frugal person, the son of frugal people, and the friend of several frugal people, I have seen and heard many different strategies on spending and saving money. However, the end goal is always the same… to get the things you need (and sometimes the things you want) while spending what is appropriate for your budget. With that in mind, using what I have learned so far from my own experiences as well as the tales and legends of frugal persons past, I have compiled this… The Frugal Person’s Guide to the Universe (universe… universe… universe…). With this collection of frugal tips, you should be able to navigate the universe with a little more cash in your pocket.
- Try the store brand at least once. You might even like it better than the name brand.
- Stock up when your regular items are on sale.
- Sign up for the rewards card for every store you regularly visit.
- If you have the time, check online and in newspapers for coupons.
- Whenever possible, leave the kids at home
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
- Make a meal plan for the week so you know you’ll use what you buy. You can base your meals on what’s on sale that week.
- Always have a list.
- Always check the clearance racks.
- Sign up for the email lists to get coupons and deal alerts sent to you for your favorite stores.
- Don’t be afraid of consignment shops and goodwill stores. These places can be goldmines. Particularly great for children’s clothes.
- If time is not an issue, wait for those aforementioned coupons before you go looking for what you need.
- Stock up in the off-season (Look for a winter coat in Spring, shorts in the Fall, etc.).
- Build your wardrobe around basic items that can be worn in several settings.
- Before checkout, always search for a coupon code. You can usually find a code for free shipping or a percentage off your purchase.
- If appropriate, check sites like ebay, amazon, and craigslist for acceptable used items that cost less.
- Comparison shop before committing to any service to get the best price.
- Research, research, research. Before you even sit down in a car at the dealer, narrow your choices based on price, what you need, what features you want, and what brands you deem best for your budget. Shop at sites like cars.com and vehix.com.
- For many, a low monthly payment is the most important part of the sale. Just don’t forget about the total price you’ll pay.
- Negotiate the price of your new car before you even talk about your trade-in (if you have one). You can negotiate that value as well. Research your own car on edmunds.com and kbb.com.
- When it comes to repairs, get second opinions whenever possible.
- If you can, pay off the balance each month to avoid paying interest.
- If carrying a balance, try your best to pay more than the minimum due so you pay it off quicker and with less interest.
- Many credit cards offer rewards programs like airline miles, cash back, gas credits, points towards other merchandise, etc. These are great ways to make credit work for you, even better if you follow the first 2 points.
- Don’t skimp out and get cheaper versions of items when you know they won’t last. Whenever it makes sense, opt for quality over low price. You’ll usually wind up paying more for replacements and/or repairs than if you had just bought the better item in the first place. If the less expensive option will work for you, that’s great, but be aware of why it’s priced that way.
- Don’t buy more than you need. If you went into the store for one shirt, don’t fall for the “buy 2 get one half off ” deal. However, if these are shirts that you will definitely use, then by all means take the opportunity to stock up.
- Don’t buy something out of the ordinary just because it’s on sale. Make sure it’s something you were looking for anyway.
- Whenever possible, shop with like-minded people, or alone. Friends can be helpful when picking out clothes, electronics, or just about anything. However, it may not be helpful if that friend has different values and a different budget than you.
- Don’t turn shopping into a hobby or activity to kill boredom.
Now, I haven’t been to everywhere in the universe yet, so I’m sure I missed a few points. Feel free to add some tips of your own to this guide in the comments below. We love that!