How many times have you bought something because it was such a good deal, only to end up with something you really didn't need to spend money on at all? Me too.
Planning your purchases ahead of time—and having the ability and stamina to wait for what you want and need—goes a long way in keeping you from getting suckered in by sales. Even better, planning ahead often allows you to get significantly better deals than merely what's blazoned on ads. Here's how to maximize savings above and beyond sale prices alone.
You Can Stack Your Savings
If you plan ahead, you'll never have to pay full price. You can grab items when they go on sale, but to really boost your saving, stack those general store sales with additional coupons. For instance, if the items you have your eye on are 40 percent off in-store and you also have a 20 percent off coupon, that's definitely the time to buy. I did this yesterday at Joann Fabrics with some flannel I knew I needed for a project.
You Can Take Advantage of Seasonal Discounts
When stores are turning over their merchandise to make room for the next season's hot buys (and we all know this happens months in advance... Halloween in August, anyone?), you'll find deeply discounted seasonal items. For instance, buying outdoor furniture in August could cost 50 percent less than buying it in the springtime.
You Can Buy Children's Clothes a Year in Advance
Taking advantage of seasonal specials particularly applies to children's clothing. Wait until summer stuff goes on clearance and buy swimsuits, hats, etc. for next year at steeply discounted rates. Same goes for all seasonal clothing. Pro tip: Wait to shop clearance until you have a total-off-your-purchase-coupon.
You Can Make Lists of Items You Need to Restock
In order to avoid paying full price, you need to be able to wait to buy items until you can get them for less—and you also need to know what you need when things are on sale. For instance, if you're running low on dishwasher detergent and cleaning supplies, put them on a list before you're completely out. When Target runs a special, you can stock up again.
You Can Use Cash Back Credit Cards (with Caution)
I only advise using credit cards if you're keeping good, strict accounts, budgeting faithfully, and paying off your cards every month. Otherwise, of course, the interest you end up paying more than cancels out any cash back incentives. However, if all that is squared away and, let's say, Discover is running a 5 percent cash back bonus on Amazon purchases next quarter, try to hold off on shopping until you can take advantage of the savings. You'll have to do the legwork of knowing which of your cards is offering which cash back bonuses when and possibly shuffling the cards you use, but the savings can add up nicely. This trick is a nice backdoor way to get some discount even on sites or items that don't tend to have sales.
What other ways can you save money by planning ahead?