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Frugal Shopping Tips for Consumers

July 27, 2010

By: Jim Oosterman
Melrose Bank

Frugal shopping tips are fun and creative ways to keep money in your pocket, while getting the bargains you need. There are many great options for bargain hunters, especially during the warm weather months when yard sales and special retail discounts are plentiful. Since being frugal is the latest trend, here are some ideas and suggestions for all you "frugalistas" and "frugalistos" out there!

Buy book/software/movies used – Buying used is a great way to treat yourself and save money. Amazon.com, eBay, and Half.com are great sites to purchase used books, software, and movies. Just make sure the url begins with https://, this means the site is secure. And always read the product description carefully when going through online transactions. Some grocery stores even have used book bins and donate the proceeds to local charities.

Consider pre-owned for major purchases – The most popular used items are cars, computers, televisions, and furniture. For example, you can get a great deal on a newer used car. Look for a 2009 model with only a few thousand miles on it, and you'll likely get a greatly reduced sticker price. There are great used car websites such as www.vehix.com, www.autotrader.com and www.cars.com. Don't forget to check your local car dealer's inventory as well. Used cars are a great investment, especially if you only drive about 10,000 miles per year.

Browse Craigslist and eBay for deals – This is a great way to find a bargain on big and small ticket items. eBay is an online auction site. A member can put an item up for auction where potential buyers can place bids. eBay sells millions of different products including décor, vehicles, collectables, appliances, furniture, computers, and other miscellaneous items. Craigslist is a little different. It is a centralized online community which features free classified advertisements broken up by categories of interest. Between these two sites, you can find almost any item you are looking for, usually at a discounted price.

Check out dollar stores and closeout retailers – Everyone loves a bargain. Dollar and closeout stores offer great products and incredible savings. At every Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General, basic items are sold for one dollar. Closeout stores such as Big Lots, Ocean State Job Lots, and The Christmas Tree Shop, will sell higher priced, brand name items for closeout prices. Here you can find furniture, home dŽcor, food, toys, and appliances. For an online alternative, visit www.overstock.com for thousands of name brand discounts.

Wait for sales – Having patience is the key to this money saving option. Everything will go on sale eventually to make room for new inventory. If you can wait it out, you will be bound to find a bargain. Wait until the end of each season to buy. After holidays is when you find the best sales.

Use retailer's websites to comparison shop – Comparison shopping is a great way to find the best retail deal, at the best price. There are websites specifically dedicated to price comparison shopping, such as www.pricegrabber.com. Shopping for a specific item on the retailer's websites will give you a good in-depth look at the products. Here you can put the features, benefits, and prices side by side to find the best deal.

Look for suitable substitutes for high-priced items – Instead of paying a large amount of money, look for an alternative with all the same bells and whistles, but for a less expensive price. Suitable substitutes will look just as good as any higher priced item, but for a fraction of the cost. Often a parent or sister company makes products which are similar, but are tailored to different markets with different price ranges.

Look for ways to trim your overhead – In households, the most important overhead is your fixed expenses, your housing. You can save by refinancing your mortgage to a lower rate. You can also take advantage of comparative shopping for services such as insurance, mobile, television, and internet providers.

Shop local – You're more likely to find better deals and customer service from local businesses. Food and produce is often fresher and, unlike online retailers, there are no additional shipping charges. Plus, it's a great way to put money back into your local economy and make sure your community thrives.

Look for discounts on entertainment – If you are looking for some family fun, the Melrose Public Library offers museum passes to many of the Boston area's most popular museums. For more information on gift certificates please visit www.melrosechamber.org. For museum passes please visit http://www.melrosepubliclibrary.org/.

James Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone 781-665-2500, online at melrosebank.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/MelroseBank.


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