I don't know about you, but, I love saving money when I shop. But, I'm not sure if I would consider myself an extreme saver. Being an extreme saver isn't to be confused with being an extreme hoarder (aka extreme shopper). You know those people you occasionally see on tv with 300 cats living in their house and have three lifetimes worth of Irish Spring soap that took them ten years to accumulate.
What is an Extreme Saver?
Not to be confused with the other “extreme saver” that saves at least 50% of their monthly income, the extreme saver we will look at in this article is somebody who saves lots of money when they shop.
Traits of an extreme saver can include:
- Only buys something if they have a coupon
- Only shops sales and clearances
- Buys in Bulk
- Uses a cash back shopping portal
- Enters all the random discount codes listed on RetailMeNot
- Only buys items on the shopping list
If you do several of these whenever you shop, you might be
a redneck an extreme saver.
How My Wife & I are Extreme Savers
I've shared several times before how we have saved thousands of dollars during our marriage by practicing some of these money-saving shopping techniques.
Craigslist is our best friend. It helped us save over $4,000 in home construction costs and we still use it on regular basis. Lately, we have been using it to sell and make money while helping somebody else get a used car or computer cheaper than from the dealer or Apple Store.
Plus, we always check Craigslist first for deals when we are ok with buying something used.
There are a bunch of ways to save money online, but two of my favorites are Ebates and Giving Assistant. Neither one is especially helpful at Amazon, but, we get cash back at almost any other store we order from online. I used it to buy a new computer lately and got $10 back. Plus, since we buy our laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, and anything non-perishable online, the savings add up in a hurry.
It's one of the few browser extensions I have installed to notify me of potential savings opportunities.
Buy in Bulk
Many people like to either buy individually packaged items or buy in bulk. When we have the money, we buy large quantities to get a discount. While “buying in bulk” gets a negative rap, stores like Costco are popular for a reason. In fact, a recent Kiplinger's Personal Finance article said Costco has a 90% retention rate. That's astounding for retail.
Admittedly, we shop around for our savings. We occasionally stock up at Boxed and Jet when they run a sitewide sale, buy sides of beef from a local farm, and participate in other buying clubs. You can visit our house and it looks normal, our shelves aren't prepared for a nuclear apocalypse. But, we do get a good deal by buying 10 boxes of items we use on a regular basis instead of running to the store each week to buy one box at normal retail price.
Mailing List Coupons
Being on a retailer's mailing list can be really good or really bad. It's bad as your inbox is constantly bombarded with “savings” if you spend so much money today or this week. A lack of shopping discipline means those initial savings mean you are spending money when you don't have to.
The good news about mailing lists is that you can get exclusive savings. Since we buy almost everything online, my wife waits for a particular retailer to send out their monthly coupons or quarterly specials. After you have been on their mailing list for a while you know they discount certain items in regular intervals. Just like you might wait for tax-free weekend, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday to make a large purchase.
Discounted Gift Cards
This is a tactic I would do more when I was single. I rarely do this now for two reasons (1) my wife thinks it's too extreme (time vs. money saved) and (2) we usually forget to look. Buying discounted gift cards on sites like Raise or eBay allow you to save anywhere from 1% to 40% on gift cards.
We did this to save money at Lowe's when we were building our house. The more you spend the more you save. I recommend this method if you plan to buy a new computer as you might be able to get a 6% discount for some retailers like Dell (my personal preference) that can cancel out the sales tax you might pay.
You can also use this savings tactic to save money when you reload your Starbucks account, shop at Target or Wal-Mart, or go to your favorite restaurant. It takes an extra step, but, the cumulative savings can add up if you are diligent about this.
Shop Thrift Stores
We rarely buy clothing new. If we do, we wait for Land's End clearance events or end-of-season sales from Kohl's or JC Penney (i.e. selling summer clothes in October).
Typically, we look at thrift stores. Personally, I have been able to find Brooks Brothers and Jos. A Banks shirts and pants for $5-$10 each. If you go on discount days, you can usually get these same articles for half the cost.
If you are like most Americans (us included), you have way more clothing than you need. Admittedly thrift stores were my weakness because I know I can get good brands for little money. When we got married, I made a huge donation just because I had “stocked up.” Now, somebody else gets to enjoy the savings instead.
Shop Store Closing Sales
Another way we sometimes save money is shopping store closing sales. This isn't the Ashley Furniture sale where it seems like the store has a liquidation sale every six months yet they never go out of business.
These are sales like when K-Mart closes down or a grocery store moves to a new location.
In fact, our toddler helped us find an awfully good clearance event recently.
Not everything is a good deal so don't buy something because it's 25% off or 90% off. If you don't need it, don't buy it. There's a reason that toy is 90% off, nobody else wanted it when it was only 50% or 75% off.
How You Can Become an Extreme Saver
The Internet has made it easier than ever to save money. You just need to view shopping in the right paradigm. You don't have to follow all the actions we take, but, they are a good place to start. In fact, you might have your own rhythm like going to garage sales or finding hand-me-downs from family and friends.
No matter how you save, ask these two questions before you pay retail.
- Do I need it immediately?
- Can I get it cheaper by waiting for a sale or shopping somewhere else?
It can be that simple.
How do you save money shopping?
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.