Save on Everything: How to Get the Stuff You Need for Less

By Mike Peterson
In January 23, 2013

Maybe your new year’s resolution was to shop smarter or save more money.  Maybe you’re planning a major 2013 budget overhaul.  Or maybe you’re just looking for a few ways to make your hard-earned money stretch a little further this year.  January is a great time to set saving and spending goals, and I’m sharing my favorite tips for frugal living all year long.

 

Want to save money on day-to-day expenses?  Here are a few ways to cut costs on the things you buy all the time.

 

Save on Groceries:

  • Leave the kids at home.  You’ll be less likely to end up at the checkout with a cart full of impulse buys and pricy packaged foods.
  • Shop the perimeter.  This is where you’ll find less expensive items like fresh produce and non-prepared foods.  The aisles tend to be stocked with more expensive (and less-healthy) fare like packaged foods and frozen entrees.
  • Get a card.  Most stores offer some sort of free, in-house “loyalty card” that gives you access to members-only sale prices and buy-one-get-one specials.
  • Clip coupons.  You can find coupons in the newspaper, in mailers, or online.  For bigger savings, find out when your store offers double or triple coupon days.  Just remember that coupons are only useful if you’re using them for stuff you’d buy anyway – otherwise, you’re not actually saving money.

 

 Save on Gas:

  • Fill up during the week.  Gas prices tend to be slightly higher on weekends, so you should avoid hitting the pumps on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Search for lower prices.  Websites like GasPriceWatch and GasBuddy can help you find the best prices in your neck of the woods.
  • Carpool.  If you commute to work, you might want to consider joining or starting a carpool.  Not only will you save money on gas, you can also save wear and tear on your car!  Or, consider public transportation.  Bus fare for the month might be significantly cheaper than filling your tank a couple times a week.

 

Save on Entertainment:

  • Check out the library.  Instead of buying books, get a library card and borrow them instead.  Most libraries also offer DVDs and video games, too.  Just make sure you return items on time so you don’t end up paying fines!
  • Rent, don’t buy.  Why spend money on DVDs or games when you can borrow them?  For around the price of a single DVD you can join Netflix and rent movies instead.  If video games are more your style, check out game rental service GameFly.
  • Buy used.  Why pay full price?  There are entire stores devoted to used books, movies, and video games.

 

Of course, there’s no “right” time to be frugal – but some months are simply better than others when you’re looking for particular items, like furniture, electronics, and seasonal items.  Here’s a guide to the best times of the year for item-specific purchases:

 

January:  Dry cleaning

January is a slower month for dry cleaners, so you might be more likely to score some good discounts on larger, costlier jobs (think curtains, formalwear from the previous month’s holiday parties, bedding, etc.).  Watch for coupons in your local mailers or newspapers.

 

February: Furniture

New designs typically hit the stores in March and April, which means that many furniture retailers run sales in February to make room for the new inventory.  For even more savings, consider buying floor samples or items that have small flaws such as scratches, dents, or other imperfections.

 

June and July:  Housewares

The summer months are popular for weddings, and retailers often run sales on popular wedding gifts like dishes, flatware, linens, towels, and kitchen gadgets.  If you’re in the market for a new blender or a new set of knives, you can find a good deal at the height of wedding season.

 

August:  Laptops

August is a great month to purchase laptops.  Many retailers have sales on laptops in August.  These sales are typically aimed at college students who purchase laptops as a portable and affordable alternative to desktop computers.  Student or not, you can find some great deals on laptops if you wait until August.

 

November:  A new TV

As the holiday shopping season inches closer, most stores run crazy good deals on electronics – particularly TVs and DVD players.  And the closer it gets to December, the crazier the deals are.  If you’re in the market for a new TV in 2013, wait until after Thanksgiving – that’s when the stores roll out their Black Friday specials.

 

December:  Holiday items and outerwear

Hit the stores on December 26th and you can pay next to nothing for perfectly good gift-wrapping essentials and holiday-themed cards and decorations.   December is also the time to purchase hats, gloves, scarves, and coats.  Spring fashions start appearing as early as January and February – and stores don’t want to hang onto seasonal winter wear any longer than they have to.  Look for clearance sales around the holidays.

 

Do you have any tips on saving money this year?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.