My aunt gave me a valuable tip long ago about shopping with kids…never buy things for them in the same trip that they ask for it (if it’s an impulse buy/request). If I decide later that I want to get it for them I do it while on my own, or on the next shopping trip I let them know that I plan to buy it for them, thus it is not an impulse purchase. For example, we like to peruse through Target to see what’s on sale or just to kill some time. And inevitably one of the kids will see something that catches their eye (usually a toy) and ask “oh look at this, so cool! Can I have it?!?” To which my aunt suggests to say “I’ll think about it, perhaps when it’s on sale,” or something to that effect. The beauty of this response is 1)it teaches that shopping trips do NOT equal “instant gratification” and not to expect purchases that were not planned for, 2)teaches them a little self-control and restraint in other areas of their life, 3)teaches ME valuable money saving tips as I exercise discretion.
Really this post is not about my kids, but more so what I have learned from taking this approach to shopping. Yes, it’s definitely a benefit that when we go shopping that I don’t have crying or whining kids, but more then anything I myself have learned to apply this concept towards all I want for the family or myself that is not a “need”. I have a small notepad in my purse and I jot things down as I am shopping, then go home and research online to see who has the best deal.
The beauty of something not being a “need” is that I don’t have to buy it or do it (like a family activity) right away, so why not first do a little digging for a good price? Obviously it takes a bit more time, but you can save lots of money if you just have a little patience plus for many things purchased online you don’t have top pay sales tax. My favorite thing to do is just to start by looking it up on google.com and click on the “shopping” link at the top of the page or to see what the search results came up with. I also hit amazon.com (to see if I can take advantage of the free shipping deal) and ebay.com (for both new and used items). Amazon is great as it lets you keep things in your cart “to purchase later”, so if I’m not sure that I want to spend my hard-earned money on it yet I can think about it for a while. Ebay is great for new items, but especially for used items. For family activities I make sure to ask while I am at the location if they have any special packages or deals etc…
In the past 2 weeks alone here is what we saved (what I can remember anyways):
- I really wanted a “Tupperware Serving Center Set”, which on the official website is $34+$7.90 for shipping. I was ok with buying used as long as it was in really good shape and found a seller on eBay willing to “take an offer” of $7 (plus $6.80) on the set they were selling. It is of the older generation, so different color then the current plus I have to use cling wrap to cover the “dip” container. I was fine with both of these aspects, so instead of paying $41.90 I got it for $16.80, saving $28.10!
- We wanted to get the game Carcassonne for the family to enjoy, which around here you can only get at the Games by James store. It was $32.25 (including tax) in the store, but we easily found it online for $25.86, which included shipping. So here, we saved $6.39.
- Lately our weekly family activity to get out of the house is bowling! It is usually just me, my husband, and our teenager. It would normally cost $8.50 per person for 2 games, including shoe rental. However, they have special rates every night Sunday-Thursday. We choose to go on Sunday as that has the rock-bottom rate of $1.50 per game PLUS free shoes rental. So instead of costing us $25.50 an outing it’s only $9, a savings of $16.50 weekly (and $33 for 2 weeks)! Honestly, if not for the special rate we wouldn’t even be doing it as we can’t afford $25.50 for just 1 hour of fun.
- We always encourage the kids to read, not only for educational benefits, but just to get them into doing something enjoyable that is not electronic based! The little ones like to read the Garfield comic strip books, which normally cost $6.95 a piece. In this arena I have to compromise a bit, as we could get it for FREE from the library, but they like reading them more then once plus they always misplace the library books! So I poked around on eBay and found a lot of 16 books which costs me $10.47 total, including shipping. These are gently used books, but so are the libraries, no big deal. Purchasing them new they are $7.47 a piece (with tax), so for less then the price of 2 new books I got 16 gently used books! Had I really gone out to get 16 books, it would have come to $119.52, so I saved $109.05!
- I love my American Eskimo dog, but she sheds like CRAZY!! I try to brush her at least 3-4 times a week and we vacuum twice a week, but still, there always seems to be fur everywhere! The last time we went to the vet he suggested the “Furminator” DeShedding treats, which slows down the hair production cycle and is safe. At the pet store a bag of these treats costs $18.26 (with tax) and would last about a month and a half . The price seemed so outrageous as I make homemade treats for a fraction of the cost, but all this fur…so I read reviews to make sure it was working for others and looked around for a better price. I found a site, homeproductsales.com, that sells them for $6.75 a bag and would ship up to 3 bags for the rate of $6.80. So I decided to try them out and purchased 2 bags (as it takes up to a month to see results), for a total of $20.30. Had I purchased them from our local pet store it would have cost me $36.53, so I saved $16.23.
Final verdict? Well, by spending an hour or two researching and waiting a week before getting the items at our doorstep we have saved at least $192.77 in the past 2 weeks on our “wants”. These are all things we could have gone without, but at the right price it makes it affordable enough to splurge on. You can still have fun in life and live beyond the bare necessities, even if your on a tight budget.