Story time! My mum is the definition of frugal. My parents separated when I was 12 and for a while my mom took care of the 5 of us by herself. Single income, 4 kids isn’t easy. What’s even harder is paying a mortgage that you assumed why going to be half of what it is. I don’t give my mom enough credit. She never let on that anything was wrong. We never knew that money was an issue, but then again we 12, (and the oldest) so we didn’t know anything. Our financial situation made her very creative and frugal in her ways. She made sure that we were fed, happy, involved in extra-circulars, and never felt left out.
When I went on my “pay -off my student debt” phase, I looked to my mom for guidance. The days of her financially struggling are long gone, but some of those habits still remain. And I wanted to learn to be more like her, a frugal shopper.
A frugal shopper has skills and ways of looking at things that help him or her take advantage of the money-saving opportunities in life. There are six of these techniques below. You can learn them in a matter of a day or two, practice them for a few weeks, and then save money for the rest of your life.
1. A frugal shopper studies other people. Do you know someone who always gets the best deal on cars, boats, or whatever? Ask him how he does it! Some people will tell you that the cheapest coffee in town is $3 per cup, while others will say 50 cents. There are probably people near you living a good life on half of what you make. Learn how others do things, so you’ll know your options.
2. Frugality requires knowledge of values. It’s tough to get a great deal on a car if you don’t know what a great deal is. Start educating yourself on prices, especially before you’re ready to buy anything that costs a lot. To her, its also about spending a bit more while knowing that the product will last longer.
3. Frugal shoppers pay cash. Things are cheaper when paid for in cash instead of credit. Want that new patio set? The price divided by the number of weeks you can wait to get it equals how much you need to set aside each week. You’ll not only save on interest when you pay cash, but you’ll often get a better price. You can also barter at certain places if you have cash.
4. A good shopper looks for alternatives. Maybe you’d have just as much fun taking that discounted trip to the Bahamas as you would going to Jamaica. If you happen to enjoy pizza just as much – or more, skip the expensive restaurant and call Dominoes. This is one of the reasons, I rather go to Cuba twice than Jamaica once. The beaches are better and it feels the same when you’re down there.
5. Frugal shoppers tell people what they need. Just mention it in conversation. Do you know how many people get free or cheap things, just because they talk? My neighbor wanted to upgrade her living room set, and was thrilled that I would take her 3-month-old couch off her hands for $30. Glad I mentioned I was looking for one. I also ask for discounts at the counter when checking out. You’d be surprised at how many times retailers tack on an extra 10% discount.
6. Do the math. You didn’t really save $400 on that car if it costs you $500 more in gas each year. Also, be aware that some stores are cashing in on shopper’s assumptions that larger is cheaper. Yes, the gallon of pickles might actually cost more than four quart jars. Be ready to do the math if you want to be a frugal shopper. I love Costco, but sometimes it costs way more to shop there, and people don’t pay attention to cost per unit at all.