There are lots of ways to save money. I’ve talked about clipping coupons, using online coupon codes, shopping through websites that give you cash back, and buying things secondhand. But what’s the best way to save money?
Shh…. This one’s a BIG secret.
The best way to save money is…just don’t spend it.
I know that good deals are really tempting, but if you don’t actually need something, just don’t buy it. That’s guaranteed 100% savings right there.
But before I completely kill your shopping buzz, there are a couple loopholes in the Don’t Need It, Don’t Buy It rule. One of those exceptions is when you don’t need something now, but you will probably need it later. In that case, you have two options. You can buy it now because it’s a need, or you can wait for a sale and try to get a better price.
You’re probably thanking me for pointing out the obvious there, but hold on. I’m going to give you a little tip on how to know which option to choose.
The best way to know whether to buy something now or wait for a sale is to know your sale cycles. Almost everything goes on sale in cycles. Fruit goes on sale based on seasons. Cream of mushroom soup goes on sale the week after Chicken Noodle. After you get in the habit of sale shopping, you start to remember these cycles, but if you aren’t there yet, I’ll help you out a little.
The first lesson in sale cycles (and the easiest) is to know that during each month of the year, there are certain things that are cheaper during that month than any other. For example, January is a great time to stock up on exercise equipment and closet organizers because everyone and their dog is getting in shape and getting organized in January.
So, I thought it might be helpful if I shared a list of what is okay to buy during the month of March. You are more likely to see a sale for these items during March than any other month. If you need something on this list, this is the time to buy it. Look around and find the best deals, use coupon codes and all the other great money-saving techniques we’ve already talked about, but don’t wait. This is one time that waiting could cost you.
What It’s Okay to Buy: March
1. Mangos, Strawberries, Asparagus, and Artichokes
Anyone who tells you that eating healthy will lower your grocery bill is full of you-know-what. Healthy food, like fresh produce, is expensive. It’s better for you and it’s much, much cheaper than the health problems that result from eating junk food, but in the short term, eating healthy on a budget is hard. You can do it, but it’s hard. That’s why a lot of lower income people who don’t have government assistance rely on the dollar menu at McDonald’s to feed their families. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. (NO, we are not one of those families. Just to be very, very clear.) We used food stamps and Medicaid to help me get through school, but since December, we have been completely off any government assistance. For a family used to eating only healthy food (with the exception of a cake full of green food coloring every now and again…), this required some major changes. Our food budget is now half of what it was previously. We still like to eat healthy as much as possible (how I justify those bad treats you’ve seen me making lately…), so it’s super important that we know what fresh fruits and vegetables are on sale. March is a great time to stock up on mangos, strawberries, asparagus and artichokes. Freeze them. Make strawberry jam. However you like to use and preserve them, this is the time to do it.
2. Frozen food
You may or may not know that March is National Frozen Food Month. I’m not sure what frozen food has done to deserve an entire month named in its honor, but hey, it means great deals for you. Not only are there great sales on frozen foods this month, but there are lots of coupons available, as well. Use the coupon widgets I have in the sidebar on the right to make your store’s deals even better. One of my favorite appliances is our deep freeze (that’s in storage…). If you don’t have one, you may want to check Craigslist. With all the strawberries, asparagus, and frozen veggies, you’re going to need the space. We currently have a freezer that I suppose is considered normal size (being on top of a normal-sized refrigerator and all…), but that is waaay too small for a family of seven. Frustrates me to no end. But that’s only because it’s too full, so I guess what I meant to say is that we are very blessed. :)
You may be wondering why you need luggage in March. No one goes anywhere in March. Unless you are a student and are heading to the beach for Spring Break. The majority of Americans are not students, and that means that March is a time that stores sell less luggage than usual. In order to move the merchandise, they offer some fairly good prices. Keep in mind that despite my flippant comment about no one going anywhere in March, we live in a society that thinks nothing of jumping on a plane to fly across country just to party for the weekend. Luggage sales do slow down in March, but not enough to get you more than a 10-20% discount. If you see it at this discount, grab it because it’s not going to get better.
4. Perfume, flowers, and other gifts
So, what are you planning on giving your family for St. Patrick’s Day? Yeah… That’s right. There is a serious shortage of gift-giving holidays in March. (Except my birthday which I’m sure generates a huge up-tick in sales.) Not only that, flowers are growing like crazy right now in warmer regions, so that helps lower the price, too. If you love fresh flowers, this is a great time to keep the house pretty for less! Also a great time to stock up on gifts, especially if your family gives small gifts at Easter.
5. Winter clothes
I don’t know about the stores in your neck of the woods, but here we have swimwear out already. Seriously. Bizi has already been hassling me to go to the pool because our pool is actually open, even though the water is nowhere near warm enough to swim in. Right after I thought I’d put that argument to rest, she saw a rack full of swimsuits at Academy and was totally reenergized. ARGH.
But the good news about those swimsuit racks is that the stores don’t have room for a bunch of winter clothes that have been hanging around for a couple months (or more) already. Stock up. Especially if you have kiddos.
6. Summer Shoes
I know it doesn’t make sense that winter clothing and summer shoes are cheap at the same time, but it’s true. Summer shoes are cheap now, but will go up in April. So if you see them, buy now.
7. Outdoor furniture
Same thing as with the shoes. No one really wants to sit outside yet. It’s still too cold! But next month, everyone’s going to be rushing out to buy new patio furniture. That is, everyone but you. Because you already got yours on sale in March.
8. Sporting goods
January is the queen of exercise equipment sales, but March brings baseball and soccer, and with them, great sales on sporting goods. If your brother-in-law’s naughty dog chewed up your soccer ball, this is the time to buy a new one! Or for your brother-in-law to buy a new one… (I don’t think my brother-in-law actually reads this so that hint was totally wasted, I’m sure. And if he is reading it, well, happy day.)
9. Digital Cameras and TVs
I don’t know why these are on sale right now. Sometimes you just have to trust the cycle. Buying a TV in March can save you around 15%. Buying a digital camera in March can save you 20-25%. This is not a “stock up” item, guys. Just to be clear. This is an item that you wait until March to buy. TVs and digital cameras generally aren’t “needs,” so if you find yourself wanting a new one next February, just sit tight.
And, finally, the best thing to buy in March is………
10. St Patrick’s Day items!!!
Everyone already knows that I love St. Patrick’s Day! And the only thing better than new St. Patrick’s Day decorations is new St. Patrick’s Day decorations ON SALE!!! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!! Just wait until the 18th and you will get a great deal! YAY!