Getting A Good Deal
Most of us have a set amount of money coming in to our household. If our budget is tight we can increase our income, reduce our expenses or do some combination of the two. Or, we can use what we have and learn to spend better. That's what getting a good deal is all about!
But before we start buying new things, we should take an inventory of what we already have. What we need might already be in our home. Having a good organization system can help us keep track of our household "assets". Also, we might be able to "repurpose" items (use them in a new way) to get more mileage out of them—things like house wares, glass jars, packaging, and furniture—before discarding or replacing them.
When making a purchase initially, it's important to consider not just the cost but also the quality. A quality item purchased at a higher price is usually better than a lower=priced alternative that has to be replaced over and over again. For example, clothes purchased in a classic style will last for years and can be updated with new accessories, instead of being replaced.
Sometimes it's not worth the cost of purchasing if it will only be used once or twice. It can probably be borrowed or rented and then returned. No need to find storage in your home, garage or shed. If you will need it again, you might consider sharing the cost with a family member, friend or neighbor. Our neighbors purchased a snow blower together—half the price and the driveways are cleared quickly and easily and there is also the potential for earning some extra money clearing out the neighbor's driveways.
You can also "barter" your time, talents and skills for someone else's time, talents or skills. We've traded babysitting with friends when we wanted a weekend away. We got some time to ourselves; we knew our children were happy spending time with their friends; and, we had the freedom to come and go without having to pay a sitter. Of course, we returned the favor when they wanted some time away.
If you do decide to make a purchase after all, you can at least get a better deal. One of the biggest savings available is timing your purchase. There are better times to buy everything from appliances, electronics, and computers to cars and houses...and just about everything in between.
You might be able to find similar items at a lower price. Discount stores have become very popular. There is a wide variety of useful items to be picked up here for much less than in a department store. However, there are also a lot of items that should never be purchased from these stores for safety reasons.
Buying "previously-enjoyed" items at thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, consignment stores or flea markets, etc. can save you lots of money as well. It might not be exactly what you were looking for but it may be. It doesn't hurt to look. Again, the first concern when making any purchase has to be safety (over price).
If you decide to venture online to make purchases, you will have lots to choose from. You just need to make sure that you follow some safety rules to protect yourself before venturing online. It can be a risky business if you don't take precautions. On the other hand, f you do put safety first, it can be a very rewarding experience.
Whenever you make a purchase, remember that it's only a great deal if the price is right AND it's something you actually need and will use. When we ask "Deal or no deal?" we want you to be able to answer, "Deal!"
P.S. The fifth chapter of our personal finance book: Power Spending: Getting More For Less, is about Getting A Good Deal. There are seven sections: Fix It up, wear it out; make it do or do without, Let's make a deal, Don't "discount" dollar stores, Secondhand Rose, Home sweet home, To lease or not to lease and Online purchases. We talk about how you can use what you already have, how you can protect yourself when you shop, and when, how and where you can better deals on all your purchases.