Shopping Smarter: 5 Tips for Enjoying Shopping While Saving Money

Smart ShopperI had a fun shopping experience recently which ended so well that I thought I would share a few insights I gleaned from it (five to be exact!).

The shopping excursion was a by-product of my current emphasis on eating well which, quite surprisingly, has led to an emphasis on cooking. In Confessions of a Lazy Cook, I wrote about this emphasis-transition, and I asked for comments and suggestions from readers regarding their favorite cooking gadget or utensil, something that makes the job easier and more pleasant. The responses were almost unanimous: a good knife was the prioritized kitchen tool of choice.

I am not one to glibly ask for suggestions. Having experienced what a difference a simple cutting board could make in my attitude towards cooking (see the aforementioned Confessions of a Lazy Cook), I took the commenters at their word, and I immediately started researching kitchen knives. I watched a few YouTube videos, did a little shopping around on the web to see what kind of $$ a good knife might cost, and then I went shopping to see what a good knife “felt” like. I took my husband, Steve, along for this shopping experience, as he is a knife expert himself, a craftsman of beautiful custom knives (though kitchen knives are not his specialty).

I wasn’t only shopping for knives, however. I also intended on perusing the kitchen wares for more tools that might make the cooking and entertaining experience more fun. Oh, was I in for a treat!

I must interject here that I had given Steve fair warning of my intent, and he dropped me off at Kohl’s, one of the department stores in my area where I have noted a good kitchen department, and he ran some errands of his own while I did my thing. I didn’t really plan to buy anything that day. I am definitely not an impulse buyer (not usually). I browse, think it over, maybe research a little more, and then once I’m ready, I make the purchase with great delight and a good conscience (because during my “waiting period,” I almost always eliminate certain items that I don’t really need).

I had so much fun examining all the cool kitchen contraptions that are on the market now. As I mentioned in Confessions of a Lazy Cook, I am quite impressed with the new silicone utensils. I like the way they feel and they seem so much more sanitary than wooden ones. And they’re prettier! One of the first things I saw as I walked into the kitchenware department was a colorful display of silicone spoons, spatulas, slotted spoons and “spoonulas”–including my favorite color, purple. I checked out the price, and at $11.99 a spoon, I knew that I wouldn’t be stocking up on those without more thought (because that’s the way I am). But they were definitely going on my mental list of items to add to my kitchen.

Another nifty new trend in kitchenware is collapsible dishes. They are made of the aforementioned awesome silicone which “pops out” to full size for use, but collapses for easy and minimal storage. I was immediately in love with an over-the-sink colander for cleaning vegetables (since I do so much of that these days). I could envision how much easier my food prep would be with this ingenious little item, but again, the price tag informed me that this would require a little more consideration.

I walked out of the store happy, but with no purchases. From there, Steve and I went to different store to look at knives, and that was enjoyable and informative, too. Knives are a much pricier item than the other gadgets I had been looking at, so they definitely required more thought.

When I got home, I went to the Kohl’s website to locate an item I had seen that I thought my daughter, Misty, would like. I wanted to email her the link so she could see it. To my surprise, many of the items that I had just looked at–and wanted–were “on sale” on the website. For instance, the silicone utensils were $3 less, the item I thought Misty would like was about $15 less!

I decided now was a good time to buy. I started adding items to my virtual shopping cart, making sure that the total was enough to earn free shipping (that part wasn’t difficult). When I got to the checkout, it asked for any coupon codes or gift card numbers. I paused for a moment, even though I had neither. In the recesses of my mind, I remembered reading once about coupon codes. I opened a new tab in the browser and quickly typed in the search box, “coupons for Kohl’s.” To my delight, there was a 20%-off coupon available.

I returned to my shopping cart, typed in the coupon code and saw my total reduced by $30!

Within a matter of minutes after sealing the deal, I received an email from Kohl’s with my “Kohl’s dollars”–$20 to be exact–which I can spend on my next purchase in the store or online. I will get that collapsible colander for just a few dollars out of my pocket.

Summary

What made my shopping experience so enjoyable?

1) I wasn’t in a hurry.

I rarely “window shop.” I get no pleasure from browsing stuff that I don’t really need. However, I do enjoy browsing when I am “in the market” to buy. But even then, the experience can be tainted if I am in a rush or being rushed. So when I am just browsing like I was for kitchen updates, it is important that I not be in a hurry or have someone waiting on me.

2) I kept my search “narrow.”

I didn’t browse for new shoes, new clothes, new books, etc. I was on a mission–to update my kitchen and to learn what new tools were available before making any decisions.

3) I didn’t buy on impulse.

This one tip keeps me from spending money unnecessarily, saves me regret for unnecessary or unused purchases and prolongs the pleasure of my sparse shopping excursions. My method serves me well, as I often leave a store considering whether or not I really want to buy a particular item, and within minutes, the desire is gone. The items that stay on my mind are the ones that I go back for.

4) I saved money that I didn’t expect.

This always adds to the fun. As I relayed to a friend, “I couldn’t afford NOT to buy” after discovering how much money I would save by taking advantage of the sale and the coupons online.

5) My only regret in the whole experience is that I didn’t start my online shopping from the Ebates* website and earn just a little bit more money. However, a few days later, I returned to the Kohl’s site to spend my Kohl’s cash and I remembered that step, adding about $6 to my Ebates account at that time.

Since I don’t do a tremendous amount of shopping, I tend to forget about using Ebates and online coupon codes. This most recent experience, however, will probably embed those two steps a little more into my psyche because it turned out to be such a pleasant, rewarding experience.  And that doesn’t even count the joy of the receiving the box of goodies that arrived at my home just a few days later.

Do you have any money-saving shopping tips—online or in-store—that you could share with My Pleasant Places readers? Please leave a comment! I, for one, really do take these comments to heart.

*I wrote about Ebates at Simplifying the Holidays: Tip 1 – Shopping. You can get more info there, if you’d like, before signing up for an Ebates account. It’s all free!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Photo compliments of  Cougar via Compfight

 

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3 Responses to Shopping Smarter: 5 Tips for Enjoying Shopping While Saving Money

  1. Carla says:

    There are certain times/seasons that are better than others to score a deal. But I think you’ve posted about that previously, right?

    • Carla says:

      What I meant to say was “score a deal on certain products (electronics, linens, etc.)”.

      • Diane says:

        I’ve posted a link to an article or two about this subject on My Pleasant Places facebook page, Carla. Any particular item that you know of that you can get “on the cheap” at a specific time of year?

I love to read your comments!