Finance

6 Tips That Will Keep Bargain Shopping From Leaving You Broke

Everybody loves a bargain, but it’s no bargain when shopping for them leaves you broke.

Zions Bank Aug 3, 2017

Article originally published on August 3, 2017 and refreshed on April 28, 2021.

Do these statements sound familiar?

  • Grab it now! Tomorrow it will be gone forever.
  • Nothing haunts us like the things we didn’t buy. Don’t be haunted.
  • There is one left. It’s on sale. It’s in your size.
  • A good friend goes bargain shopping with you. A true friend helps you hide it when you get home.
  • I could give up bargain shopping – but I’m not a quitter.

As smart consumers, many of us love to shop for bargains. Here are six helpful, bargain shopping tips for finding bona-fide bargains.

Bargain Shopping Tip 1: A deep discount may not be a bargain

If you already have 10 pair of running shoes, buying another pair at an 80 percent discount is still spending money you could use for something else. Bragging rights that you got a $250 pair of shoes for $50 may stroke your ego, but that $50 could have been used to buy a gift for a loved one.

If you were to add up all the money you spent on stuff you really don’t need, just because it was a killer price, you might be surprised. Ask, “Even though this is a great price, do I really need it?”

Bargain Shopping Tip 2: It’s not a bargain to get a good price on something you won’t use

You find a killer deal on a high-end toy like a snowmobile or waverunner. You bring it home and realize that you might only use it once or twice a year and you’re stuck storing it in your garage, taking up space. For light use it would have been a better option to rent. Ask, “Will I really use this?”

Bargain Shopping Tip 3: Put a budget on your bargains

Let’s say that over the course of a month because of your savvy bargaining you buy $3,000 worth of stuff but only spend $1,000 on your credit card. What if you don’t have $1,000 to pay off the credit card balance? Now you’ll be paying interest on your bargains. If you are paying minimum payments, it may end up costing you more in interest than the full price for your purchases.

You can avoid this problem if you put a limit on how much you will spend each month. For example, if you budget $100 for clothes you can get as many bargains as you want as long as you don’t spend more than $100. Bargain shopping without a budget is more fun, but not overspending will limit your fun to what you can afford.

Bargain Shopping Tip 4: Cheap is not a bargain

Sometimes there is a reason that something sells for a low price – its quality is poor. Something that costs twice as much but lasts five times longer is the real bargain. Ask, “Is this selling for cheap because it is a deal or because it is just cheap?”

Bargain Shopping Tip 5: Think out of season

If you are going to need something in the future, buy it out of season for the best price. Buy Christmas wrapping the week after Christmas, not the week before. Buy a lawnmower in January, not May. Buy those skis in June, not December. This is an especially good technique for shopping on Craigslist or KSL.com. Fewer buyers are looking for out-of-season items, so you should be able to get a better price.

Bargain Shopping Tip 6: Everything can be a bargain

Just because something has a price tag on it, doesn’t mean that is the price you have to pay for it. Ask the seller, “Is that the best you can do?” or make the comment, “That’s not good enough.” If the option is that you might walk away, the seller may lower the price to save the sale. If the seller lowers the price, you spend less of your money. If the seller won’t budge, it hasn’t cost you anything to have tried. If you don’t ask for a bargain, you won’t ever get one, but every time you ask, you have a chance at getting a deal.

Now go out and bargain hunt the smart way.

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