Monday, August 29, 2011

Moolah Monday - Buying Out-Of-Season

One of the best tips I could ever offer you in the world of finances, particularly frugality, is the suggestion to find every opportunity you can to buy out-of-season.  Really, it is probably the best way to save money on both needs and wants. 

The concept is this: figure out things that don't have an expiration date or have a reasonably long shelf-life and buy ahead, in bulk if you can, whenever you buy it on sale.  Essentially, it's the same premise couponers use, only it can be applied even if you don't clip coupons or if you need/want something that you don't have a copuon for.  It's a really, really simple idea but it does require forethought and planning and often times a different mindset around shopping. 

Aside from super sales (which often aren't all that super, maybe 10-20% off without coupons), one of the best ways to apply this concept is to buy things out of season.  When the end of a season approaches, whether a pure season (fall, winter, etc.), a holiday season, or a shopping/fashion season ends, anything left-over will often be sold at remarkable discounts.  Usually there are only 2-3 left and if it is a size specific item you won't have a huge choice to be picky, but you should be able to get some great deals and either cut the budget or at a minimum stretch your dollar further.

This can work really well with both children's and adults clothes, especially holiday themed items (st. patrick's day shirts, valentine's day clothes, etc.), swimsuits, hats, sunglasses, gloves/scarves, shoes (especially sandals, boots, or water shoes), Halloween costumes, and regular seasonal wear. As an example, you all know swimsuits start to come out crazy early in the year - like February or something ridiculous like that. Last year I went shopping for snow boots in February when we had 6 inches of snow twice within 4 days. I was unlucky but did find gardening boots (which worked ok) but only after walking by the bathing suit aisle. You could jump into the mood in February and buy a bathing suit OR you can wait until May or June (maybe even July or August, depending on where you live) and purchase bathing suits for 50-75% off. My mother and I were walking through a department store two weeks ago and found complete suits for $20 and separates for $7-$8 a piece. Much better than the $50-$75 price tags no? 

Here are a list of recent purchase I've made with this concept in mind -
  • Life Jackets at Dick's Sporting Goods - I bought 4 kids life jackets for $55.  1 was an O'Brien neoprene vest for $20 (usually $60), 2 were 30-50 lb ski vests for $10 each, and the third was an infant "ski" vest for $10...those three were all regularly priced $30 each.  The signs said 50% off but at the register it came to 66% off. 
  • Kids sandals - I bought 2 pairs of toddler sandals (flip-flops) with a heel strap for $1.75 each at Target a few weeks ago.  Mid-august, still valuable to me.  I would have bought more, but I was in a hurry and I already had some of the other colors they had - no need to be wasteful.
  • Snow cone maker - 30% off at Target.  I also bought extra syrups because they were on sale and didn't expire for a while.
  • LOTS of toys - enough for my son and Little Miss for their birthdays and maybe even Christmas too.  Toys R'Us was having a moving sale and everything was 50-75% off.  I bought a camera for my niece's birthday (shhhh...don't tell her!) for $14 regularly $50.  I bought my son a ton of expansion packs for his train set - they were all 60-70% off.  I bought Little Miss some baby dolls.  I have to house them for a little while, but their birthdays are only 6 weeks away so it was worth the savings.
So, why don't people do this more often?  Sometimes they don't think about it.  Not everyone remembers to think about various purchases months in advance.  Sometimes they don't have the space to hold extra supply.  Sometimes they genuinely don't have the resources to get ahead by purchasing this month's necesities and those for future months.  (Of course, it usually only takes 1-2 months to get ahead of to make it start paying off, but I still understand the challenge).  There is of course the challenge regarding sizing - as in not knowing what size clothes an infant will be in next fall or that type of thing.  For foster parents it's hard because you don't know what children you'll have when, so it's hard to plan ahead for certain items (like matching kids clothes, which I love to try and pull off).  Of course, you also have less choices - you get to pick through what's left instead of getting the full selection in the beginning of the season.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons people don't purchase out-of-season is that, by nature, things they purchase would be out-of-season. Many times this means the clothes wouldn't be the most up-to-date styles with "this year's trend". Some people have a stigma about buying things "on discount" vs. full-price. Many people believe it's a status symbol when you don't "have to" use coupons or find deals, like "you've made it". Some are embarrased. In my mind, I'd classify a lot of these types of reactions to discount-shopping as based on pride.  These types of responses are often boiled down to being "better-than" discount shopping or not wanting to be perceived as a "discount shopper".  That's too bad. 

More for mie.


Dana Beam said...

The concept also works that the thrift stores & consignment stores. They cycle out out-of-season stuff as well and it's normally even cheaper than it started. Ask when they do it and save tons of money. When I find stuff like that I buy up to three years in advance (that's as far as I can justify storing lol). When you get an entire outfit for a kid for $1 that is in great condition it's worth saving until next year. Sometimes places even donate stuff they couldn't sell at end of season sales so if you look around you might get it for free.

Mie said...

Great tips Dana!

TodayAtOurTreehouse said...

It must be that time of year - the time for savings. We just had an excellent weekend shopping trip that was unexpected. We live where there is snow 6 months out of the year and were lucky enough to run across a clearance sale on kid's snow items. We bought Sorel boots in a variety of sizes for less than $8 a pair. Now when the kids lose the first pair we have a back-up without the $60 price tag. Ski socks are normally $12 a pair and we were able to grab several for $1.75. The added benefit is that these great brands tend to last through a few seasons to be passed to the next child in line making the per wear price nominal. I love finding a bargain!