Saturday, April 23, 2016

Buying Secondhand

This is part two of my series called "Savings Superstars".  To read the first installment, To Coupon or Not, click here.  Please leave a comment below and I will respond in a timely manner!

I do not like to pay full price for books.  Ever.  And yet, I am a voracious reader and love to consume new materials whenever I get my hands on them.

Hence lies the struggle: I want to read but at what price?  I'll tell you.  Usually pennies on the dollar.  Here's my secret: I score many of my books secondhand from thrift stores.  If they are paperback, they typically cost anywhere from .50 cents to $1.  If they are hardcover, maybe a little more, like $1-$2.  I can't tell you how many "like new" books I've found at the thrift store that I've been hoping to read.  Some of them are still stocked on the shelves at Barnes and Noble for full price.  I walk out of the thrift store with my finds silently laughing to myself for my good fortune.  Let someone else pay full price.  Not this gal!

I always try to keep a mental list of the books I'm on the lookout for in the back of my head.  That way when I run into it, I can just pick it up.  If I have waited for a long time and can't find a title I'm searching for, I sometimes buy it used for .01 cent on Amazon and just pay shipping.  But most of the time, the title turns up locally and I save having to pay shipping at all.

There was a time in my life (before kids) that I got to attend a lot of classy functions that required nice dresses.  I went through a phase where I actually bought a few secondhand formal dresses on eBay, and generally had good luck with them too.  But, alas, I don't get to many formal functions these days.  So, I guess I will continue allocating my secondhand dollars to my list of reads.

Do you buy secondhand?  If so, what?  Be sure to comment below and let me know!

To learn how to turn your secondhand purchases into real, cash savings, check out my book 8 (Really Creative) Ways to Save.  It includes an entire chapter on buying used items!

Happy Saving!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

To Coupon or Not

This is Part 1 of my 3 part series called "Savings Superstars".  I am excited to hear feedback from this series and get some great ideas on how you save money in your life.  Please feel free to leave a comment below and get the conversation started!  I will respond to each comment as soon as I can.

Do you coupon?  Why or why not?

In my book, 8 (Really Creative) Ways to Save, I don't talk a lot about using coupons because, well, it's a book on creative saving and coupons are sorta not creative to me.  They've been around for a while and most people who claim to be any good at saving money have already mastered the art of using coupons.

I say most because I don't consider myself to be one of them.  I do believe in using coupons, but they don't control my grocery list like those people on TLC's "Extreme Couponing" show.  Those people seem to peruse their local stores' circulars and then match store and manufacturer coupons and generate a list of items to buy or get for free.

Here's what I don't like about that system:  so many of the food products are processed foods that I wouldn't really be buying for my family anyway, much less need multiples.  We buy a lot of produce every week, as well as milk, cheese, yogurt, and nuts.  Every once in a while, I'll come across coupons for those types of items, but not every week.

Another thing we don't do is plan our weekly meals around what's on sale or what items have coupons available.  We are a family that eats the majority of our meals at home.  We may have 3 meals that are either take-out or at a restaurant.  The rest of them we plan in advance and add the ingredients to our weekly grocery list.  And we buy the items we need whether or not they're on sale.  And whether or not we have coupons for them.

So, I consider myself an occasional coupon user.  Like this week, for instance, we needed laundry detergent.  We have a favorite brand, so I went online and printed off a $2.00 coupon.  Totally worth it because the detergent is going to be over $10 anyway.  Now, I know, some of you reading this are cringing because you would argue that I should be using that coupon on a much smaller size so my savings would be greater, but I would rather just buy the larger version and not have to restock for two months.  I guess this makes me a lazy coupon user.

I want to know how you use coupons in your life.  Are you like me and use them sporadically when you stumble upon them?  Maybe you don't use them at all because you don't have the time to search for them.  Could you rival one of the people on "Extreme Couponing" because you're a master at getting items dirt cheap and even free?  Where do you fall on this spectrum?

Also, I'd love to hear from those of you who use coupons to plan your meals.  Are you able to find good value coupons on fresh produce and dairy on a weekly basis?  I'd also like to know what some of your favorite, low cost meals are that you make for your family.

With this blog post, I'm definitely hoping to get a conversation started, so here's what I'm asking you to do: please leave your comment below and I will respond.

To Coupon or Not...that is the question.  And, GO!