Recently Hancock was looking to buy a 42-inch Samsung TV. She did some research and found that it retailed for about $1,800. Her goal was to get it at 30 to 40 percent off. Every Sunday she flipped through coupon sections until she noticed a big, random sale at H.H. Gregg, which had the TV she wanted for $1,000. “I got that TV for more than 50 percent off. I wouldn’t have known that was a great price if I hadn’t been watching it,” she says.
Hancock suggests keeping a list of the items you want and paying attention to the price changes. You can look up ads online from previous seasons and see what discounted prices a certain product has been sold for before. That will give you an idea of what it could potentially drop to.
Also, Hancock recommends keeping a list of items you need and in what sizes. You can also create a Houzz ideabook to keep track of home furnishings and accessories you want, including sizes and colors. That way if you’re in a store and see a big clearance rack, you can pull up the Houzz app and see exactly what you need.
“I moved into a new house recently, and I knew I needed five different sets of drapes," Hancock says. "I had the color scheme all planned out and the sizes written down. When I popped into Bed Bath & Beyond, I found silk drapes on clearance for $6 that were usually $100. I pulled out my list and knew what color I needed and the size.”
January: Mid- to late January is when to buy furniture, home fitness equipment, electronics, HDTVs, laptops, bedding and linens. There won't be as big a selection as before Christmas, but the deals will be substantial.
Hancock says you used to be able to find great deals just a few days after Christmas, but about five years ago she started noticing that trend push well into mid-January. If you can hold out for a couple of weeks, you'll see amazing discounts.
February: Electronics, home fitness equipment, bicycles
April: Easter decor, furniture
June: Furniture and tools
July: Tool sets, computers
You can also find deals on summer-related products a couple of months before summer, like in April, when companies put things on sale to get consumers thinking about products. “If you’re on a serious budget, wait until after summer. If you want to catch a good deal, check in a month or two before a season or holiday,” Hancock says.
Of course, this budget approach won’t work if your washer goes out and you need a new one ASAP. In cases like that, Hancock asks for recommendations from friends and family about any deals they found on an appliance. She then does some research to see if there’s a new model out. That way she might be able to get an older model at a discount. “You’d be surprised how many retailers will just want to get rid of an older model,” she says.
Some places, she says, will even barter with you — just flat out ask for a discount. You can also sometimes save up to 25 percent by buying online or get something discounted by signing up for a loyalty program. “Or 90 percent of the time if you call and talk to someone, to get you into the store they will offer you a discount over the phone," Hancock says. "Or tell them you’re price matching, and you might be able to bring in a coupon from another store and get it at that price.”
There are still places where salespeople work on commission, too. If you get a salesperson on the phone who's looking to sell an appliance, he or she might offer you 20 percent off if you come into the store that same day and buy it.
The online deals mentioned above include on Houzz, which often offers in-stock items at 10 percent off.
Your turn: What's your secret to budget shopping?
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