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How to...get what you need the cheapest way: Jodi's Blog
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How to...get what you need the cheapest way

April 23rd, 2007 at 03:44 am

So your last good pair of socks got a hole, you want that latest bestseller, or you just want to upgrade your electronics. How do you know you are getting things as cheaply as possible? Follow these few easy steps!

1. Decide if you want to own or borrow. If the item is something you just want for a short amount of time, then borrow it. Ask friends, family, neighbors if they have one. Rent it. Borrow it from the library or see if you have a chapter of "Borrow Me" near you (similar to Freecycle - I think it got off the ground last year). Then give it back - you don't need the cluuter anyway, do you?

2. If the items is something you really need and will use over an extended period of time, then you need to find a way to get it as cheaply as possible. And nothing is cheaper than free, right? Ask for it on Freecyle or Craig's List. Put out the word to acquaintances that you are looking - you never know when someone might have one or know someone who does. Check the fre section of the newspaper. If you can't find it anywhere for free, then...

3. But it used. Check out local thrift stores and garage sales. If nothing pans out, try E-bay or Craig's List. Advertise in the Wanted section of your local newspaper or Pennysaver. And, of course, if you cannot find it used, then...

4. Buy new. But first, check out prices in catalogs and online (be sure to figure in shipping costs). Do as much research as possible from your house to minimize costs of driving all over town. When you find it, consider negotiating a lower price, depending on the type of store you are at (especially if there is a noticeable defect). You can also minimize the cost of buying new by sharing the item, and cost, with someone else who also needs one (such as with tools that aren't used frequently) or by bartering if you have something worth trading.

This method won't work for all items. For example, in shopping for car seats and other safety devices, you should skip to step 4 since used car seats can have defects not visible to your eyes. This process can take a few hours, or it can take months (or longer) depending on your level of need. Here's an example from my life:

About two years ago, I decided that my boys needed stepstools for our two bathrooms. I started by posting on Freecycle, but received no responses. I kept my eyes open for one while in thrift stores and garage sales for a few weeks to no avail. Eventually I came across a good price at Wal-Mart and bought one for the downstairs bathroom. About a month later, I found a used one at a garage sale for $.50. By not running out to purchase two new stools as soon as I identified the need, I was able to save significantly off the price of a second stool. Also, because it was not an immediate need, I had the luxury of time.

I use similar approaches when my kids outgrow their pajamas. First I check Freecyle and my stockpile (hand-me-downs from a friend who now gives me everything her son outgrows), then garage sales (I rarely find any at thrift stores). Since these are items I need regularly, I also put them on gift lists for my boys, since I am regularly asked what they need. As a result, I have only bought one new pair of pjs for either boy in nearly 4 years.
Next time you need something, ask if you need it NOW or can you wait for a good deal to come along? For most things, a little bit of waiting, and researching, can be quite profitable Smile

2 Responses to “How to...get what you need the cheapest way”

  1. homebody Says:

    Nice job!

  2. Anne Says:

    I would add one thing: Check rebate opportunities. While this doesn't work so well for larger goods, I have not bought toothpaste in over a year, between rebates on new brands and free samples.

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