Shopping is Like Gaming…So Let’s Win!

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Finding the best bargain while shopping is like winning at your favorite game. It’s actually been compared to hunting. Think about it. The same endorphin rush kind of happens between hunting and shopping to find that perfect product at the best price possible. That’s why a lot of people get addicted to shopping. My form of shopping is about saving as much money as possible. 

So, here I am, a well-oiled shopping machine for my family and friends. I love a good bargain. I get a high off of finding the best deal, and I’ll even buy multiples if I can – since they are such a good price. My family have complained in some instances, but they are always thankful to have everything they need, aren’t they? Yep. 

So, what do you do to make sure you save as much money as you can while shopping? Thought you’d never ask. I’ve got some suggestions! 

For one thing, when it comes to appliances and clothing, I never buy without the thing being on the clearance rack or having a coupon to place on top of the “Sale Price”. I put that in quotation marks because I’ve worked enough retail to know that the “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price” or “MSRP” is bullshit. If they can sell it at that price, great! But that should not be the price the consumer goes for. This price is sometimes 3 times mark-up (maybe more). Why? Because consumers are sale-driven. In other countries, it is not only expected, but desired for the buyer to ask for a lower price from the seller of merchandise. 

It’s true! It blew my mind the first time I saw it. In the U.S. we have those lovely stickers and they are very strict about it. Therefore the MSRP is the highest price they will charge for an item. What you need to do as a consumer is have enough patience to wait until these things go on sale or you have a coupon.  The only time I buy full price is special event merchandise or things that I know I will not be able to pick up in my size if I wait. For those of us who are FLUFFY, that’s a real issue. And it’s an entire article waiting to be written! 

Have you ever thought about using the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or a local thrift store instead of buying new? You should. Not only do most of these places give back to the community, they are also a great place to bargain shop! Check there before going to buy something brand new – that’s my advice. I have saved thousands of dollars by doing this, and you can, too. 

Now, let’s get back to hunting bargains. Food and Groceries. That’s the biggest marketplace for finding good deals. My in-store advice is to take advantage of ALL sale bargains you can. Know which stores allow individual markdowns when they say BOGO (buy one get one) or multiple purchasing discounts. Sometimes you don’t actually have to buy the full amount to get some discount. This is the best hunt to me… and I’ve literally run out of space in my house at times for canned goods because of this. Food Banks get my donations from it. 

Know your stores. Know when their sales go on and off. Know when they mark things down in the markets you use. Know their coupon policies. Know if you can get fuel points at your store and use them. Find out where they place their overstock and clearance items – produce departments and bakeries are especially good for this. I never have purchased one thing at regular price from a bakery. Why should I? I always go for the overstock or bargain bins. And don’t forget to look at those little grocery store clubs they have. Each chain has their own customer membership and those give you access to deeper discounts and more coupons. Don’t overlook those as an inconvenience. Considering they’re usually set up using your phone number, you no longer have to show your card in most stores, just give them your number to type into their system and you got it. 

Something a lot of customers overlook is the placement of products within the store. Big chains are especially bad about putting the product they want you to buy most – or the product whose company forked over the most $$$ right at eye level. Don’t buy at eye level. Look to the bottom and top shelves for your cheaper deals. 

There are so many people and places willing to help!  I first began couponing when I moved to North Carolina. Every cent counts to my mind, because I’ve been poor and had to do without. Someone I worked with told me about Southern Savers. This website was perfect for me and even has tutorials on how to coupon, when best to use coupons from each store, and much, much more. You should be able to search for similar websites based out of your regional area.

Coupons are very interesting tools to use and there are ways to use digital coupons or manufacturer’s coupons on top of your local store sales and store coupons. Some stores also allow doubling and even tripling of coupons. Each store is different, so you need to understand the rules and be prepared when you go shopping with coupons. Also, be nice! These retail employees are working hard to help you with your bargains. 

Did you know there is something available to help you save even more money on top of what you save using coupons and sales? Yes. There’s an APP for that! Actually there are a bunch of apps for that. Most of them you have to pay for things up front and then report back through the app to get credit in the form of points that are collected toward redeeming gift cards or freebies. Others offer you cash back. 

I use both Ibotta (cash back) and Fetch Rewards (points toward gift cards). Because these two apps have different pay-out programs, I can use both on the same shopping trip. And that’s not counting the coupons I may have already used on that trip or the sales I find. I’ve gotten back over $155 from iBotta since the end of March. I’ve cashed in my points twice from Fetch Rewards to get $5 gift cards each time. And this was all on purchases I would’ve made anyway. 

There are many more shopping apps out there, all you have to do is look them up in your phone. Ibotta recently began its own community of people who use the app and share their finds with other members! There are already 27K members and you can look up those close to your own shopping areas. Also, these programs are beginning to offer rewards for dining and take out as well as mall stores. 

One thing I do know for certain is – if you sign up for either application I use and you then input my referral code, we both get cash back and points. So, please do that!

Ibotta – GVUECQL

Fetch Rewards – 4BT89

When I look for the best bargain on ANYTHING, I feel like I’m playing a game. Whether I’m looking over the apps for the best deals, scanning in receipts, clipping digital coupons for products I know we get more often, or even getting a Sunday newspaper to clip physical coupons from – I listen to my music and enjoy the fun. And in the end, I wind up having more money in my bank account for that little bit of effort. I have friends that say they don’t have time to look into what’s on special for that week or month, and so they don’t use the shopping apps and they don’t coupon. But they’ll play little numbers and shape games on their phone for hours. Why not turn your gaming skills toward these apps and toward couponing and save some money while you’re at it?  Play the game you will actually win with.  

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