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5 Ways to Avoid Paying Retail

Guest post from Jason of Work Save Live

As a budget coach (and someone who’s been working my way out of debt for the past six years) I’m not willing to paying more for something than I absolutely have to. While many of my family and friends believe my wife and I are “cheap”, I’ve become comfortable knowing that we’re simply “frugal” and do our best to make the most of what God has entrusted to us.

Whether your looking to save some money on a big-ticket purchase or just trying to find deals for holiday gifts, here are a few ways to avoid paying retail.

1. Ask for a deal.

Businesses want your sale and they’re typically willing to earn it. Do your research before you head to the store: browse competitor’s websites, search ads, shop around on Amazon, and come to the table prepared to negotiate.

2. Shop at the end of month, quarter, or year.

Most businesses have monthly, quarterly, and yearly sales goals — so by shopping at the end of these periods, you’re more likely to get a great deal.

If you’re dealing with a sales rep that isn’t willing to budge on the price, ask for a store manager or department manager as they’ll have more power to negotiate.

3. Be the king/queen of Black Friday.

Black Friday is quickly approaching, and as most of you frugally-minded shoppers know: it’s a great time to get a bargain!

With the power of the internet, nearly every major store’s ads are available a few weeks in advance. Search all of the ads and get a game plan ready for your attack.

Of course I should add a caveat here: don’t go overboard. There’s no reason to buy something you don’t need just because it’s a good deal!

4. Take advantage of online banking.

The banking industry has evolved with the onset of tablets, cell phones, and increased internet use.

Online banks are becoming the standard, and their high-interest CDs and Savings Accounts, low fees, and reward debit cards are giving consumers much more incentive to leave their traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

5. Buy refurbished or floor models.

You can save a bundle of money if you buy used and refurbished tech gadgets. And if you’re searching for other big-ticket items such as couches, refrigerators, TVs, or kitchen tables, buying the floor model or searching the “scratch-and-dent” section will save you at least 10-30%!

We were able to save $200 on our refrigerator even though the scratch was on the side that is now covered up by our counter!

What are your tips to avoid paying retail?

Jason is a financial advisor and Dave Ramsey-trained counselor who blogs over at Work Save Live. He aims to educate his readers on a variety of financial topics while sharing his family’s journey out of debt and a weekly delicious recipe.

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23 Comments

  • Jessica says:

    1. I just don’t do that much shopping. Other than a weekly grocery trip, I generally avoid the stores.
    2. I look secondhand before I make a purchase. During garage sale season, I visit garage sales that list items that are on my needs list. So if I need size 3t clothes for my son, I look for ads that indicate those items.
    3. I have very simple needs and am a low maintenance person! I don’t have an i-anything, designer anything. I dress for comfort, not style. I don’t really care all that much about tech stuff. I don’t buy media- use the library.

    • melissa says:

      Love your statement “I don’t have an i-anything or designer anything.” Me neither and I’m not ashamed of it as much as society wants to make us feel that way. Not that I’m against those things… I just don’t feel the need to have them in my life.

  • Ashlee Wolfe says:

    Be patient. I’ve had my eye on a vacuum for over 6 months. MSRP is $199 but Amazon has it for $145. I still didn’t want to pay that. Just last week Kohls had it on sale, plus 30% off and $20 kohls cash back. If you include the cash back it was $105. I was happy with that price.

    • Jason @ WSL says:

      Being patient is key! We always wait a few days (if not weeks) before making any serious purchases. We’ve gone without a washer for 5 months now and probably won’t buy one for another few weeks.

  • The Frugal Batavian says:

    This is what I try to do, but sometimes not successful at it.

    – Look for a Groupon/Saveology gift card I can use in the future at a store I normally shop at. I like the Gap or another store or two that I know is usually a bit cheaper.

    – Use those gift cards during either 1) holiday sales 2) Veteran’s Day or other days where I can use my Military ID or preferably both but not all stores take Military ID outside of times like Veteran’s Day

    – It’s even better if I can find a store coupon around this time as well!

    That’s how I try and shop! One of my favorite stores also offers BOGO sales a lot, as well as discount coupons so I love shopping at that store.

    • Erica says:

      Ooh that is a great and I totally forgot to mention it!

      We buy our cats very expensive, high quality cat food after one of them became very sick a few years ago. In order to keep this from killing our budget we buy discounted gift cards (usually 15% – 20% savings), stack it with an in-store sale and coupons. We notice our cat food goes on sale every 6-weeks, and PetCo sends you $5 coupons for every $100 you spend plus a 10% coupon every couple months. We can usually get 2 months worth of food for around $80-$100 this way.

      At stores like PetCo they will also sometimes mark down bags or cans 50% off if they get a tear or a little banged up. As long as they are still useable, this is a great way to feed your cats quality food for pennies on the dollar.

  • These are great tips. Like Jessica, I think I save the most money by simply deciding I don’t need something in the first place.

    Also, check local consignment stores for merchandise, especially kids’ coats and boots and sporting goods. We have a place nearby that regularly has brand new items (sometimes with store tags still attached) on sale for a tiny fraction of the original price.

    If you’re buying online, always look for a coupon code – and if you are shopping in the stores, look for a printable in-store coupon before you buy. Walmart and Target both have printable coupons on their websites. Macys and Kohls often have Savings Passes that they will send to email subscribers on Wednesdays or Thursdays.

    There are a number of mall stores that make printable coupons and savings pass coupons available, as well. (Including Aeropostale and The Childrens Place) These tend to be most plentiful from Thursday through Sunday.

  • Ashley says:

    When I’m buying a clothing item, I always look over it to see if there is some sort of damage on it that I am able to fix but may effect the value. I bought a pair of jeans that were in great condition but the hem on one leg came out part of the way. When I showed it to the cashier, she told her manager, and the manager approved a 25% of discount for the issue. It never hurts to ask!

  • Brandi says:

    I shop on the clearance racks at clothing stores (or thrift stores). If it doesn’t have a clearance rack, you will have a pretty hard time getting me in the store. Unless I am shopping for a special occasion (weddings etc~and even then I’ve scored some awesome deals, think after high school homecoming and prom for dresses), I don’t even look at the full priced racks.

  • Erica says:

    Buy used! Or even just “thrifted”. I always try to keep my eyes peeled at Thrift Stores, yard sales and craigslist before I ever head to buy new. I was able to purchase my husband a new, Samsonite carry-on from Goodwill for $8. This same model is currently being sold at Macy’s for $320!

    For things we must by new, like undergarments or mattresses, I watch sale cycles, compare prices and check out local discount stores.

    Don’t be afraid to tell your friends or family you’re looking for something either. They might spot it on clearance or know of someone selling it and you could get a major deal! Through the grapevine selling is one of my favorites!

    • Stephanie says:

      I love thrift stores! I had been looking for snowpants for my daughter since last year and last week I picked up brand new with tags Columbia bib snowpants for $7 (retail for over $60) in her size and preferred color. A few months ago I picked up her winter coat for $10 at another thrift store- it had never been worn either and was originally $80 in the mall last year.
      If we have to buy something new then I look for sales, free shipping and coupon codes online.

  • nancy says:

    Speaking of Black Friday, one year I wanted to buy a couple Radio Flyer wagons for Christmas gifts. Target had them on sale, at a great price on Black Friday. I am not willing to get up at three or four and stand in line in the cold, so I waited until about ten and took Target’s ad to Wal-Mart and price matched the Target price! No line, and no crowds at that time. It was great!

    • Jason @ WSL says:

      I despise Black Friday as well but Cyber Monday is becoming a great 2nd option for people. It’s hard to say “no” to shopping from your home! 🙂

      • Crystal says:

        Last year, the Black Friday sales online were just about as good or better than the in-store deals. And the Cyber Monday sales weren’t quite as good, though still pretty decent.

    • I love price matching at Walmart especially on Black Friday it really simplifies the process. I like to scout out my Walmart and make sure they have the exact same item advertised by another store ahead of time since the ads are always available early. Just saves some time on Black Friday.

  • Stacey says:

    My best strategy for not paying retail is just to not go shopping for much more than groceries. We really don’t need more stuff. Other than clothes for growing kids and clothes to replace what we’ve worn out, there are very few things that we really need.

    • Stephanie says:

      I love to shop. I could do it for hours. However, I’m not really a thrift store type of person and I hate spending a lot of money. See my problem? What I find works really well for my family, in regards to clothes shopping, is to buy at the end of the season. If you wait until the end of winter/beginning of spring to buy your winter coats, hats, clothes, etc. you can save a ton of money. Companies typically have these items marked anywhere from 50%-80% off. Add in a coupon and you could save even more! I do this with every season and am able to get brand new, quality clothing for 1/4 of the price!

      • michelle says:

        I would love to do this, but how do you guess sizes? It is getting easier for my oldest, she’s 5 and her growth is slowing down, but my 18 month old has already outgrown half the winter things I bought him and its only November! And I live in the south so its still 80 degrees out, he has hardly worn any. I feel like in my effort to save money by buying in the spring, we have actually spent more because now I have to buy him clothes anyway. I can sell some of his things so hopefully that will help, but now I am scared to shop out of season again.

    • kris says:

      For me, that’s the key word: need! We establish what our needs are, and they don’t go much higher than basic necessities. I try to reestablish what is absolutely necessary every passing year, and with the help of not subscribing to cable or a newspaper, or any magazines, I am not bombarded with a lot of marketing to pychologically undermine what I feel a valid need is for me.

  • Amy says:

    In regards to asking the store for a deal, separate from price matching, how far are you willing to go? If a store won’t come down on the price do you walk away? What about supporting businesses that are trying to pay their employees decently and provide benefits? My family has owned a business and it is tough, especially when everyone is trying to low ball you and you are trying to provide a fair price. What is the line between scoring a deal and taking advantage?

    • Tracy says:

      I know this is an old article, but I appreciate your post, Amy. Many small business owners are often making less money than the shoppers asking for the deal. It does put the owner in an awkward situation when they have to say no. I would say, ask if you feel it’s appropriate, but be gracious if you aren’t given the discount.

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