Can Thrifty be Trendy?
I find it very difficult to preach or give advice on budgeting and spending money when I am not financially savvy or “old enough to have life experience.” With that being said, I would love to share a little information that my mother shared with me because it was and STILL IS so helpful when trying to come up with a budget.
Let me begin by saying my mother raised four children on one income for most of our childhood. Her reasons for being frugal were out of necessity, but they seem applicable for anyone who is trying to save money. For my boyfriend and I, we are planning to buy a house. As the saying goes, “Live How Other People Won’t, So You Can Live Like Other People Can’t.” So, I started going shopping with my mother more often, listening to her thoughts and watching her clip coupons, find sales, etc. Anything to save a few cents. So we put it to the test.
The first time we went shopping, we bought similar products. I was in a very “treat yourself” mentality, buying my usual products out of brand loyalty and not paying any regard to how much it was. My mother was in my ear the whole time, reminding me that a very similar product was on sale for almost half the cost of what I had in my hand. I distinctly remember saying to her, “What is that few dollars going to do for me? I like these." We were talking about toilet paper! So we did our thing, and walked up to the register. My bill was 400 dollars, something I was used to. Then she did hers and it was UNDER 200 DOLLARS. I said mom, did you do some kind of vudu on your bill?? She pointed to my Charmin ultra soft toilet paper and winked. I finally started to understand what she meant.
After that day, I started making my own lists. I downloaded my grocery store’s app and started clipping their virtual coupons, along with ones that are found in the sunday paper. Now, I make sure to stick to my list, eat before I shop (NEVER SHOP HUNGRY, you’ll want EVERYTHING!), and make sure to use every applicable coupon! It seems so old school to use coupons and almost cheap. It also takes some work to look through flyers to find the sales, come up with an actual list of what is needed, and make sure you get all the coupons that coincide with what’s on the list. But it’s worth it!
Now, there are plenty more platforms to take to that’ll save you more than just on groceries:
Groupon: saves money on services, like hair and nails or even trips to the spa
GoldStar: discounted ticket site, a lot of COMPED tickets!
ThredUP: secondhand clothing, the sellers are required to post actual original photos of the clothing they are trying to sell, you can haggle over prices and get some good deals on lightly used clothing.
When I shop for clothes, I generally like to buy my basics at as low of a cost as possible. I like Kohls, but most stores have their own clearance seasons. But at Kohls, they will send out different deals, like 30% off the entire order. They also have Kohls Cash, which is a slip that gives you an additional ten dollars off every $50 you spend. To most people, office clothes are going to look the same no matter how much you spend on them. I do own some designer clothes, but my trick is to use my less expensive clothes for daily wear, and save my nicer clothes for the special occasions. That way, my expensive clothing will last longer. My last clothing haul consisted of:
I bought myself:
-over ten pairs of work pants and jeans
-a few tops
-a pair of gray suede ankle booties.
My boyfriend got:
-Over 20 work shirts
-Three pairs of khakis
-Four work pants
-Two pairs of shorts
-An ugly christmas sweater (for next year).
All for under 250! AND I received $50 in Kohls Cash that we used to buy six new pillows, and I bought another pair of shoes.
Finding bargains is tricky to explain because each person has a different budget and lifestyle. So the best thing to do is to look at a month of expenses. Look at your last shopping receipts. Then take to the internet and try to find deals on those same items, used items, or very similar ones. There is always money to be saved. It’s bad enough that we have to spend so much of what we work hard for on necessities, keeping as much in your pocket as possible is never a bad thing!
Written by Melissa.
You may recognize her work from Transitioning.