Saturday, January 10, 2009

Method Madness Marathon!! Sale Shopping!!

I thought I would do an easy Method Madness post for Saturday...some easy homework for you over the weekend, right? We don't want anything complicated!

I must say, one of the other largest money savers for my family is Sale Shopping!

Hmmm, you may ask. Even though you are getting items on sale, aren't you STILL spending money?

It is true, there are Sale Shoppers who buy ANY and ALL great deals they can find!! I can think of one of those people right off the top of my head...Hi Mom!! OK, I am just teasing my lovely mother. She is an avid sale shopper and has taught me everything I know. But, she and I do have a slightly different methodology about how we go about utilizing sales.

And, I wanted to explain how I utilize sales to my advantage as a family. BECAUSE, it is very easy to overspend when you find sales or to miss them altogether.

My first rule of thumb is that I make a list for the whole year of everyone that will need a gift. I list my family, nieces, nephews, cousins, the friends of my children, football coaches, Sunday school name them, they are on my list. By making this list, it will keep you from buying items you don't need and thus overspending.

I then, categorize what I need to buy for them. Do I need something for Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, etc, etc. Do I have Weddings coming up?

Finally, I put the budgeted amount next to their name of what we would ideally spend on them.

So, for example, I would list a friend of my child's that I know we usually go to their Birthday parties. We try to get between $20-$30 gifts for kids. Great!

Now, I got my list! I print this out and into my purse it goes. I carry it everywhere, at all times throughout the year! I am prepared to sale shop now! Yeah, let the fun begin!

My second rule of thumb, is that I try to only buy 75% off or more! This now means, I am getting the birthday presents for the many, many, many kids parties we are going to for $5 to $7, approx. What a difference this makes multiplied by all the many people you shop for during the year. And, all of these people are getting wonderful gifts vs. going out and buying an actual $5 toy.

For example, over the Holidays, my daughter had a birthday party to go to for another 4 year old little girl. The Barbie Diamond dolls were running around $20 over the Holidays. Well, my mom happened to call from Target the one day to tell me they had them marked down to $5. I told her to GRAB them!! I was able to give this little girl a $20, fancy-pancy Barbie doll for $5. That is cheaper than the simple Barbie dolls at the store sell for every day!

For my 1 year old, I had bought a Thomas the Train Take Along Track with trains on 75% off clearance after Christmas a previous year. It was just under $50 for this item regularly, and I got it for $12. We added a few trains for him ourselves, and his Christmas was essentially done with us spending hardly anything.

My third rule? Shop your favorite store weekly. It sounds like a pain, but believe me, it is fast. Well, unless you hit the mother of all sales. Then, well, it is worth the time spent in the store.

I have my favorite store, which is Target. Because I shop it weekly, I know where they put their clearance items and I can watch as items are getting marked down. One week they are 30%, a few weeks later, they are 50% off, etc, etc. I can be in and out of the store in 10 minutes, because I stick my kids in the cart and walk to all the clearance section. If there is nothing, I am done for the day and leave.

Take a look at my numbers from last year. I saved $2,917 on sales. This means, I paid approx $950 for just shy of $4,000 worth of merchandise!!! That is a HUGE savings to me and my family.

Of course, I budgeted almost $3,500 in gifts for people, but I did start stockpiling for 2009 last year. So, I currently have gifts in the basement for upcoming parties, etc.

Doesn't that number seem amazing? Sit down and write everyone you buy gifts for, the value you spend and then deduct 75% off. How much would you save?

It is so easy to sale shop if you have your list handy and know what you need.

Before I go, though, I did want to touch on some other helpful hints.

First, pull batteries out of any toys that have them in there. If you aren't going to give it as a gift for a year, you do NOT want the batteries to corrode.

Second, if an item does not work or is broken when you do give the gift, you cannot return it. Most stores have a 3 month policy or less. If they still have the product in stock, you could re buy it and return the older one with the new receipt. But, many times, an item you bought on clearance has changed...the box was redesigned, etc. In those cases, contact the manufacturer. I called Fisher Price when one of the toys I got wasn't working. It was a $30 item...and it just didn't work. They sent me a new item free and just told me to throw the old one away, since I had only paid $7 for it. They only made you return items if you paid over $15 for them. That was my son's TMX Elmo! Cheap birthday!

For those interested, here is my spreadsheet that I use to track my sale shopping. If you get a chance this weekend, your homework is to update this spreadsheet with your list, print it and stick it in your purse! Now, you are ready to hit the stores! And, don't forget.....this is a great time. Everyone is marking down their after Christmas items for and clothes included!


jpkittie said...

What a fantastic idea! Thank you! I keep my Christmas List with me throughout the year, but never thought to keep my birthday list with me too!

Danielle Miller said...

Awesome idea!!! But my goodness, there is so much to keep track of with the coupons and everything. I stocked up on the Air Wick spray thingys when they were on sale at Meijer for practically nothing before Christmas. With coupons I think I got them for 50 cents. They're great for making a gift basket present. Even normal grocery store items can make a great present if it's put together right. Especially if you have any housewarming or wedding showers to go to.

Danielle Miller said...

I added a date column to my spreadsheet so I can sort by date. I might be willing to accept a lesser percentage off if the date is closer. Especially since I'm just starting the list.

The Lady Riposter said...

A woman after my own heart... ;)

I just discovered your blog last night and I really like it!

I too eagerly shop the Target clearance section and one of my projects for this week is to inventory the items I've already purchased as gifts. I've found some great deals, including a cordless screwdriver for Scott and some books at Borders and Barnes & Noble. Target has had some GREAT toy deals lately, I just don't really have many kids to buy for right now.

Thanks so much for sharing your spreadsheet - I have been keeping track on my Palm Pilot but it didn't give me space to keep track of original price versus what I paid for the item.

Megan said...

I just thought I would add onto your original idea. I do this as well but have never used a spread sheet (I really like that idea). I just have a gift closet and pull things out as necessary. I shop all year long instead of just when the event is coming up. (I just recently got all my friends/neigborhood gifts for next Christmas at Target 90% off) Something else I have started doing is putting together gift baskets for wedding and baby shower with things that I buy at Walgreens and CVS. For example I buy a laundry basket and fill it will cleaners for a wedding shower or buy a basket and fill it with diapers, medicines, lotions and give it for a baby shower. It looks like I spend a ton for just a few dollars and I also can rotate my stockpile this way.

The Ory's said...

We've recently begun doing this as well. I've found the key is to keep track in a central location (planner, spreadsheet, etc.) of what you already have so that you don't need to duplicate. This past Christmas we had already found 90% of our gifts this way before Thanksgiving ~ it made for a VERY easy Christmas season!

Joy said...

Just found your blog ... especially love this post. It has put into words so much of what I already do, but I definitely picked up a new tip or two. Thanks!! Look forward to stopping by your site often.

busy mom said...

I just keep finding out new info. all the time on your blog. I can't wait to see what this year will bring.

Coupon Clippin' Mommy said...

I have always wanted to try this! Thanks for the cool spreadsheet.

Jami said...

Carrie, I've learned so much from your site- thanks!

Thought maybe you'd like to check out my sale shopping success I posted on my blog- of course the credit given to you. :-) Thanks for the inspiration.

Carrie @ said...


I would love to!! Please send me the link.

saverchic said...

I love the idea of going to Target every week. I'm going to start doing this. Thanks!

Jami said...

Eek- I thought I did! Don't I leave it in the URL info? I'm trying again(newbie alert:-).

Hollie said...

What great insight to sale shopping thanks!!!