Although I have always been a deal seeker and conscious of grocery prices, we became laser focused on choosing frugal when my husband was in university.
We wanted to keep our student loans to a minimum and avoid spending every waking hour at work.
So we cut out a lot of unnecessary expenses.
Now that my husband is working full time, we find we have maintained a lot of those good habits.
Here are the areas we "choose frugal":
1) Furniture, electronics and large purchases - We don't make big purchases on a whim. The rule in our marriage is that any amount over $50 (other then groceries), is discussed first.
We research what we need, look on Kijiji, Buy & Sell sites and talk to friends and family first.
My husband also does a lot of internet reading of consumer reviews. You must be patient for this approach to work. You can't wake up one morning and decide to go buy a $1000 TV.
When we needed to upgrade ours, we heard there was a wholesale place in Edmonton that supplied items like TV's to hotels and other businesses. After researching what we wanted, we called and ordered it and then picked it up from their office. It would have been a lot easier to go to a local store, buy it and get it delivered, but we saved close to $1000 by doing it this way.
2) Clothing - While 90% of our clothing is new - I rarely pay full price for them. The key is to know your prices, be on email lists of stores you like to shop at and AGAIN - the patience!
I upgrade seasonal items half way through the season when the store needs to get rid of it. Yesterday, I bought a winter jacket for 75% off just by waiting and taking advantage of the promos that the store had going on.
Costco is another store that has great prices on brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and DC. Costco also offers sales and clearance deals on clothing.
3) Groceries - this area is a big topic to cover in one blog post. These two tips are going to sound so simple, but make the biggest difference.
Use up what you have and shop the sales.
Do you get groceries every Saturday just because it's grocery day? Every so often when I find my freezers and cupboards are getting too full, I won't do a weekly shop. I pick up needs like milk and produce and then I get creative in the kitchen. I dig to the bottom of the freezer and the back of the cupboards.
I also know what the prices are of everything I buy.
If crackers are $1.75 one week and $3.50 the next, I am stocking up on the $1.75 weeks. Unless it's a need like milk, or produce, I won't be purchasing items at full price. See this post for more ideas on grocery savings.
4) Do it yourself - My husband is one of those guys who can figure out how to fix anything. He has taught himself how to fix vehicles, equipment, appliances and computers.
He says all you need is confidence. Don't be afraid to take things apart, see how they work, find the problem and put it back together.
When our almost new dishwasher wasn't cleaning as well as it should, he watched some youtube videos and took our dishwasher completely apart. He found a Popsicle stick, glass, pieces of plastic and other garbage buried inside. It now works great and saved us a couple hundred dollars on a service call.
This skill is not limited to men. I have friends who can install dishwashers, put new locks on their doors, tile their kitchens or install hardwood floors. They just weren't afraid to try.
5) Shop ahead - This is a simple concept that will save you hundreds every year. At the end of a season when the hardware store is practically giving away snow shovels or lawnmowers, that's when you shop!
A friend of ours went to Home Depot looking for a BBQ last September. He found one in the sale section but it had no price on it.
He inquired about the price and was asked what he was willing to pay for it. He named a price, bought it and saved 80%!
In every purchase we make, whether it's plants for the flowerbeds in the spring or school supplies for the kids in the fall - we are always looking for the best price.
I know there are people who truly hate shopping, but I think of this as a skill that every person should have.