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Is It Really a Sale? Shopping Hacks to Save Money

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Asking is it really a sale is an important question if you’re trying to budget and save money! See what you need to know when shopping to spot “sales” that aren’t as good as they seem, at the store or on sale websites!

shopping saving money
Finding deals on sale websites, and asking is it really a sale

Sometimes it is hard to figure out if an item is REALLY and truly on sale, or if the store or website just want you to THINK it is on sale.  I wanted to share some tips and tricks to help you figure out if an item is really on sale or not.

Is it really a sale? Be Observant

Look at prices for items you are not buying each week.  This sounds like a big chore but really, it’s a one-time thing!

I actually kept a price book for 3 months for the items I do not buy that often — and some I do. This allowed me to figure out the best prices –and regular prices– for those items. 

Daniel Grabbing Gardettos

A price book can be very simple to keep….all it involves is writing down the price of the items (chosen by you) every week.  Smart phone list apps are ideal for this, and you can quickly add things to your list as you shop. I am more of a pen and paper person. I think quickly while I’m making an old fashioned list at home, before I shop! But either will work!

I did something like this:
Item: Bread
Lowest Price: $1.00Average Price: $1.25Highest Price: $2.50
Why know average prices vs. sale prices?

There are several benefits to paying attention to what you pay on average at your stores:

  • Sale tags do exist on non-sale items! You want to be sure to buy when it is at the low price.  The funny thing is, sometimes the average price will be listed as a sale!! What?? It’s not very honest, but stores will frequently put a brightly colored sale tag on something that is the same price, or a few cents lower than the average price.
  • When to stock up: We all have a mental picture of couponers and stockpiles! LOL! Well, it won’t help you at all to try to coupon and “stockpile” if you’re paying high prices for everything.
  • Being Savvy in General: $1.25 for bread does sound like a sale when you’ve paid $2.50 the week before, but it’s not a great deal. Being aware of the average prices of your items will help you find the best deals. Even if it means switching grocery stores.
  • Getting that don’t-miss deal: A couponer or website may share a great one-day deal on products, but if you’re paying close attention you may realize their sale price may be even higher than what you usually pay! Watch out for those “hot” deals and know when it’s actually a good price. 🙂

Look Elsewhere and Shop Around

This is a big shopping tip for larger ticket items, like appliances, furniture, and even vehicles!

So you get an e-mail hyping a service or an item on a special sale with a limited amount of time to purchase it….do you buy it?  No, not without looking around.  Check out other retailers that may carry the same item, check out other businesses that may offer the same or similar services. 

Be sure you are comparing apples to apples though.  It does not do you any good to compare a beauty school price on a haircut with a full service salon.  Remember these e-mails are advertisements.  Some advertisements really and truly offer a great deal, but sometimes the deal is not that good.

Another tip is to look at your rewards programs, rewards apps, and discounts that store offers! A few examples of “rewards” for shopping might be:

  • Shopping at a specific retailer rather than a generic big box store, since they offer a rewards program.
  • Shopping at one home improvement store vs. another since you have a senior or military discount at the first one.
  • Using apps like Fetch Rewards, ShopKick, ibotta, and Checkout 51 to get points when shopping at specific stores. You can use Fetch to can scan any receipt from ANY store and it can be up to 14 days old! Use code: EF9PC Before you enter your first receipt and you’ll get 2,000 bonus points (= $2).

Read the Fine Print and Ask Questions

Watch those online purchase links. If you were to get an email for a product you can get on “sale” through an email and need a special link, check the link out BEFORE you buy. 

Ask, are the prices higher on the link? Is the shipping higher?  Also, be sure to check out what shipping costs for many deals.  If you are buying something over the phone or in person ask what is required, how long is the return policy, is there a fee for early termination, is there a restocking fee, is there a warranty, what does it cover, etc.

For example, I have noticed certain “sales” with photo and canvas websites are often not as good as they seem. The sale prices are great but then you will pay a high shipping rate! Free or discount shipping only qualifies on regularly-priced orders. Hmmm. Not as good as the email or ad said it was!

Netflix TV

Watch out for fine print prior to the holidays, too. If you’re getting the “lowest price of the season” and the “best deal of the year”, be careful to compare your product with other brands. Are you getting the same product? Reading the fine print on sale websites is very important for electronics, as there are usually several versions of the same product with different capabilities, speed, features etc.

Asking Is It Really a Sale at the Grocery Store:

For saving money on groceries, know when to shop! Things will be at their highest price on certain days of the week, or certain times of the month.

Stores balance supply and demand, and if the demand is way up, chances are the price will be too!

frugal mom
Know these hacks to spot a sale that isn’t great:
  • Is the sale on the name brand significantly cheaper than the off brand? Usually this is not the case!
  • Would you save money over the sale price buy buying in bulk (or a larger sized item)? Sometimes you can pay a few cents more for a much larger item!
  • Is the sale on a seasonal item? Don’t buy just because of the sale. Wait till after holiday clearance!
  • Clearance sales on items nearing the expiration won’t save you money if you don’t use up the product before it goes bad!
  • Do you actually use the product? A great sale isn’t worth it if you would normally never buy the item!
  • Does the sale price seem close to the regular price? Check your price book or carefully look at the price tags under the sale tag. It can sometimes be very close to the same number!

Thanks For Reading:

See More from Consumer Queen Here and remember, it is YOUR money.  If the deal sounds too good to be true do some research.  You do not need to catch EVERY deal.  I would rather miss a deal than purchase one without knowing all the facts.

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One Comment

  1. In finding the best price for a certain product, I find that most stores will have the best deals below eye level. Don’t just buy something because the store conveniently places it on an end cap and says its on sale. Don’t be fooled! There are probably better deals elsewhere.

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