How to Buy the Things You Want and Save Money Doing It
There is an art to spending money. If you learn about it and then put its techniques to work, you'll soon find that you can buy more of the things you want to have, pay less to own them and thus be able to save money.
I call it "strategic spending".
One trick is to learn the true value of things so that you don't have to overpay to have them.
I first learned about this years ago when I began to attend auctions.
The biggest eye opener was one that was held in a huge warehouse that had high doors on both sides. Semi trucks full of products would roll through, stop and then open their doors. Men would then begin to pull a variety of products from them.
These were put up for auction and were sold to the highest bidder for pennies on the dollar!
Everything was new, and many products had brand names on their labels.
This experience made me realize that things I was paying hefty sums for in stores could be had for less if I made it a point to comparison shop.
Most of the money you pay for products is for packaging, branding, transportation and overhead. The product itself is the least costly item!
However, you can find ways of paying less for items if you buy off brand merchandise that is produced locally from a well-managed store that discounts its products.
A Good Example
Of course finding this combination isn't easy, but these places do exist. If you find one, you can have most of the items you want or need and still save a bundle.
The best example I know of is a grocery chain called Save A Lot. Although they do ship their items into the store from other places, they make up for this by selling off brands at greatly reduced prices.
When I first started buying my groceries there, they advertised that they could save shoppers 40%. I did a test and bought the same types of products from them that I was buying elsewhere, compared prices, and sure enough, I saved 40%!
They are able to sell for less because they
- have customers bring in their own grocery bags or buy theirs,
- sell basic unbranded products and
- eliminate deli and bakery sections.
Although I do give up a few conveniences by shopping there, I am able to buy everything I need while saving large amounts of money.
Some people snub their noses at stores like this, but they often are the same individuals you hear complaining about the cost of food!
If you learn to buy the product rather than the hype, you'll always be able to pay less for the things you buy.
Think Outside the Box
You also need to learn which items are worth paying more for, and which you think are worth cutting corners on so that you'll have more to spend on the things you really want to have.
For example, you may think that it's a good idea to buy a boat, but once you realize that this is a very costly item you won't use much, you may find other ways to enjoy boating that cost you little or nothing.
For example you can
- make friends with people who own boats and offer to share day use costs with them if they’ll let you join them once in awhile for some fun or
- Simply rent a boat for a few hours each month that you can use for your own enjoyment.
Doing either of these things frees you from all of the costs of buying, insuring, storing, repairing, outfitting and maintaining a boat and provides more money for other things you may want to have.
Furthermore, this choice will save you a great deal of time and effort that you might prefer to spend on other pursuits.
How to Beat Restaurant Prices
These days eating meals restaurants is costly. One reason is that you are paying for the owner's rent, maintenance, employee costs, insurance and other expenses in addition to the food you have chosen to eat.
Your meal becomes especially costly when you, order expensive meals, drinks, alcohol, dessert and side dishes. Waiters and waitresses will always encourage you to do this because the more you spend, the more they earn in tips!
You can avoid some of these costs and still enjoy nice dining experiences if you
- avoid trendy restaurants (they always overcharge for everything)
- drink only water,
- exclude dessert,
- avoid adding side dishes that don't come with the meal and
- tip based on the price of the meal excluding the added taxes.
Generally, non-alcoholic drinks add up to a third of the cost of your meal, side dishes can easily cost upwards of $5 each. Furthermore, the more you order, the higher your cost will be.
If the cost of a basic dinner for two is $25, taxes are $1.75, coffee is $2 per person and the tip is 15%, your total cost will be $35.36. If you order alcoholic drinks, side dishes and desserts, the price for your meal can easily double.
However, if you drink only water and avoid the extras, you'll only pay $30.76 which means you'll save $4.60.
If you dine out twice a month using this technique, you'll save $110.40 per year! That's a pretty nice hunk of change to save for choosing to drop the cost of drinks, isn't it?
If you eliminate the cost of a $5 side dish, you'll save an extra $5.35 or $10.70 per month. Thus, by avoiding the drinks and one side dish you can save $238.80 per year.
This is a perfect example of strategic spending. You make small sacrifices so that you can enjoy something wonderful and not go broke doing it!
Choose Alternative Housing
There are many options people have in today’s world for how they wish to live.
Most opt for houses, condos and apartments, all of which can be expensive.
However, others choose alternative and sometimes less costly living situations such as
- owning or renting recreational vehicles,
- living in mobile homes or
- following the latest trend which is to build or purchase “little houses” that they can place on land they own or rent or property that belongs to family members.
In some cases people can negotiate deals where they get their rent and utilities for free in exchange for working part or full-time in the facility where they park their RV, mobile home or little house.
There are more people doing this than you may think because it provides a good quality of life for relatively little money for people who plan and research well.
In the right circumstances they may even pay little or nothing for insurance and utilities!
Alternative living options can save people huge amounts of money while still providing an excellent quality of life.
Save on Clothes
Most of us are raised to believe that we must buy everything we wear in retail stores.
In the past, the quality of clothing was better, so this worked well. However, these days, unless you are willing to spend a great deal of money, what you see in standard stores such as Wal-Mart is inexpensive but generally poorly made.
On the other hand, if you are willing to do so, you can shop in high level thrift stores where you can find well made but previously owned clothing for pennies on the dollar.
Just two days ago I purchased five really nice blouses for less than $13.00! Some even had designer labels in them and all were in excellent condition.
The trick is to do your buying in places that are located near wealthy communities where people who donate change their wardrobes often and sometimes donate items that they've never even worn!
I learned about thrift stores years ago from a fellow teacher who wore a beautiful dress to work one day. Her husband was an attorney, so I figured her outfit had to be worth quite a bit of money.
I was shocked to learn that she bought most of her clothes in high end thrift stores and that the dress I had admired only cost her ten dollars!
Since then, I have saved thousands of dollars on beautiful clothes.
They are better than anything I can find in local stores, and a big benefit is that if I spill something on them, it’s no big deal! I can afford an occasional accident with a piece of clothing that might only have cost me a dollar or two!
I also do some online shopping for items I need that are very expensive under normal circumstances.
For example, a particular shoe I must have due to health problems retails for about $215. Online I can sometimes find a pair for $100!
Many people think that buying used vehicles saves them money, and in some cases this is true.
However, when you do this, you can never be sure about what you are getting. In the long run, you're better off to purchase a good quality, mid range vehicle that will not need many repairs and likely will come with a five year warranty.
By purchasing new, you may spend a bit more, but you know what you own, can make sure it is well maintained and generally keep it for many years.
My current car is nine years old, looks like new and runs like a charm. It cost $23,000 when new which means that so far it has only cost me $212 per month to own because it has had very few mechanical problems. The longer I own it, the less it will cost!
When I buy an expensive item like this, I pay as much for it in cash as I can and then find the lowest possible interest rate for the balance of my loan and take it for the shortest possible period of time that I can afford.
This is a big money saver, especially when interest rates are high.
Pay Less for Vacations
I grew up in a cold weather climate.
After vacationing in areas that enjoyed beautiful weather most of the year, I decided that it would be better to live there year round than to wait every year in misery to take an expensive but brie trip to such a place.
For years now, I've lived in a gorgeous area that is just ten minutes from a world famous beach. People spend fortunes to come here for brief periods of time, but I get to enjoy all of the benefits at no extra cost simply because I decided it would be best to live in a place like this.
People are spend far too much on vacations because they think they must, but I know that there are many places I travel to for relatively little money and still have a great time.
- Awhile back my husband and I flew to Las Vegas, stayed for 6 nights in an upgraded hotel room right on the strip, rented a car, spent a lot of time in the casinos and spent a total of $1100 including all meals and entertainment. Because we did well at the casinos, the trip actually only cost us $500 for everything!
- Another time we drove our RV to Biloxi, Mississippi, camped in a full hookup RV park for a month, visited with friends, dined out, went to the beach and enjoyed the casinos for a total of $1,000.
When we tell the Biloxi story, people always point out that the cost of the RV woulr ruin the savings. Our RV cost less than our car and we've had it for 5 years! Furthermore, when we are finished with it, we can sell it and get some of our money back!
If you compare the two vacations you’ll see that the Las Vegas trip, while a good deal, was not nearly as inexpensive as the Biloxi trip, mainly because we were able to vacation four times longer for about the same amount of money.
Other people can take similar vacations and easily spend two to four times more than we did, because they don’t pay attention to what they are doing.
They think that spending a lot of money equates to having fun, but this is not true.
Some of the best times we've had have cost us absolutely nothing, simply because we took advantage of deals we heard about in different venues.
For example, one night we got to see a free concert run by the famous DJ Wolfman Jack that featured four of the greatest rock and roll groups of the 50's. We found out about it by going to the Chamber of Commerce to see if there were any deals for tourists!
Learn How to Live Well for Less
The things I've mentioned in this article are just some of the ways that my husband and I have learned to spend strategically.
This works for us because we are willing to look at all of the alternatives that are available and then take advantage of those we think will give us the biggest bang for our buck.
We’re not ashamed to wear used clothing or drink water instead of coffee in a restaurant because we think it’s smart to do things like this.
Our spending strategy allows us to live well and save money doing it.
You can do the same, and if you decide to give strategic spending a try, you likely will become as happy as we are because you’ll have much less stress!
Do you think the advice in this article will help you to live a bit better?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle