The Pandemic has officially lasted for one year today for my husband and me. One year ago, we got laid off, Chris from his job in management, and me from my job in administration. A few weeks later, I started this blog. It was something that I had been wanting to do for a few years, and I figured now, I had the time. I certainly had the need to economize, so why not blog about it?
Before I go on, we are doing just fine financially, even though we were laid off. My husband had time and energy to put into his real estate business and it has been super busy for him. I found a great opportunity to teach online and am experiencing better than expected results. What’s that saying….when God closes one door, he opens another?
As with most projects, this blog has grown into something more than it first was in my head. It is becoming a place for me to share not only DIY’s that hopefully inspire, but also the motivation behind these thrifty projects. My motivations are always two-fold:
1. There is an intrinsic joy in creating things with your own hands. And,
2. There is joy in saving money that can be directed to your financial goals. There is no reason why a savvy homemaker cannot have both a lovely home and a fat retirement account!
Financial Goals and Budget Hacks
Even when times are good, there is still a lot of wisdom in frugle living. Our financial goals should still come first. DIY projects, thrifting, savvy shopping, repurposing, and upcycling, are all useful in helping us stick to those goals. Let’s get back to home economics 101!
This year-long experience has renewed my desire to use my skills and even learn new skills to make a lovely home on a budget. It has become a game for me…to reach my monthly savings and investment goals, and then use the budget I have left to create my dream home. Of course, it won’t happen overnight. That’s why we need patience!
My Top Online Shopping Hacks
I’m sure you are aware that online shopping has increased since the Pandemic. I recently read that online shopping almost doubled throughout 2020. That’s not hard to believe.
Now that many of us are shopping virtually as much, if not more, than we are IRL, we could learn to sharpen our online shopping skills…I still don’t want to pay more for something than I have to! Here are just three things I’ve learned this year:
1. Abandon Your Shopping Cart
I know that online retailers would NOT like to see this, because it is the number one problem that they encounter. Retailers are constantly looking for ways to make sure that shoppers complete their purchase. They employ strategies like retargeting ads, follow-up emails, and social media ads. Have you also noticed more online retailers are offering split payments at checkout?
When you put items in your shopping cart, or on a wish list with online retailers, but leave the site before checking out, most retailers have systems in place to get you back to finish your purchase. As shoppers, we can use all of this to our advantage.
2. Sign up for E-Newsletters
If you are a rewards member or newsletter subscriber for a company, you may receive email reminders, or more enticements to complete your purchase. You might get a coupon in your newsletter, or you may even receive notice that the item has been discounted. You may also receive news about similar items.
I know that we are all inundated with emails. Books have been written, classes are offered, and productivity professionals have added the topic to their teachings…what are we to do with all of the emails??
I have a dedicated email account just for shopping.
When I want to do business, I don’t want all the noise. When I’m shopping, I want all the newsletters and reminders in that one email. I can sort through for the product, or for the retailer. I can ignore it for a while if I want, or I can spend an allotted amount of time to do some focused shopping.
3. Use Retargeting Ads to Your Advantage
Most online retailers use a system of retargeting ads. Have you ever noticed when you’ve been looking at an item on Amazon, that you start seeing it, or similar items in your Facebook or instagram feed? Or in ads on other websites, like even online news sites? These are bits of code that follow you around online.
Now, before you think about how creepy that is…think about the advantage that it gives you. There are many things I like about getting retargeted ads. I am mostly just seeing ads for things I am interested in. (For example, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen an ad for a John Deer tractor:) Secondly, I can put items in multiple shopping carts or wish lists, and simply wait for the right enticement.
I first experienced this when I was experimenting with retargeting ads on Facebook for our real estate business a few years ago. I decided to try it out with my Amazon cart. I was seriously considering these super cute red cowboy boots, so I put them in my cart. The next time I opened Facebook I noticed an ad for red boots on the right side of my stream.
A few days later, I noticed ads for other red shoes. Then I saw other boots a few days later. How intelligent is that?! (I never bought the red boots. I mean, what was I thinking…cowboy is NOT my style!) But it turned out to be a great education…both for our real estate ads, and for my own shopping savvy!
Porch Furniture for the Win!
I have noticed that many retailers sell the same or similar items. In March I reached a particular financial goal, and decided to reward myself with new outdoor furniture for my porch. I had an idea about what I wanted, and I had a budget. I had been looking online and pricing, so I had a rough idea of my plan. I began my online shopping about a month before I was ready to spend.
I picked out a rug, and saw it on multiple websites…Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, and Bed Bath and Beyond. I put the outdoor rug in all the shopping carts I could. In a few weeks, I got an email from Bed Bath and Beyond. The rug was $60 with free shipping. Plus I had the 20% off coupon. (That always amazes me!) All said and done, the rug was $50.
I clicked over to Amazon to see it was $137. It was $169 on Overstock. It was similarly priced on Wayfair. So that was a no brainer. It arrived in a week.
Then I bought my porch furniture the same way. I had been stalking this metal glider from Crosley Bates for about a year. I’ve seen originals for sale on Facebook marketplace and in antique stores for $1400 to over $2000, and they were always rusty and in need of renovation. That is a LOT of work, if you’ve ever sanded, primed and painted metal.
The glider and chairs are available from several retailers, and the prices vary greatly. But they are the same product – Crosley Bates seems to be the only manufacturer of reproductions. So, I put the glider in my Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, and Wal-Mart carts and waited.
When I was ready to buy, I sorted through my emails, and found a sale on the glider on Amazon…30% less than anywhere else. I found the chairs on sale at Wal-Mart, two for $131, compared to 2 for $189 at the next lowest price on Overstock.
Patience is Your Budget’s Best Friend!
Patience really is a virtue when it comes to shopping. I looked at sooo many outdoor furniture sets. For MONTHS. It was good to finally settle on what I wanted. I have no buyer’s remorse. And I’m thrilled to have found exactly what I want for MY budget.
Next up…PILLOWS! The online shopping has begun…and I’m finding that “indoor/outdoor” pillows are much more expensive than regular pillows. I’m finding that no one makes seat cussions for these gliders and chairs….what a missed opportunity! It looks like I’m going to have to make them myself because I can’t stomach the prospect of spending $80 on a pillow. Just remember, You can never have too many pillows!
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Categories: Savvy Shopping