Free Shopping Ideas

Shopping ideas to help you save big on clothing and feeding a family and even furnishing your home.

You can clothe your children, feed your family and even have an outdoor deck made for pennies on the dollar. Here's how.

Do you dare to shop in the upscale stores that carry such brand names as Liz Claiborne and Donna Karyn? You can, if you know the tricks of the trade.

The first thing you do, is head for the clearance racks and tables. But, don't settle for the discount offered.

For example:

You "eye" a gorgeous silk lined, cashmere jacket that would be perfect for those chilly Fall days and nights. The original price: $218.00.

This jacket has been discounted several times and the asking price is now...$65.00. Should you accept this as a great deal and scoop this one up? No!

These stores want more than anything to move these items as quickly as possible to make way for the next season's fare. Each department manager is expected to comply and has the authority to reduce even further any merchandise already marked for clearance. This gives you, the consumer, a bit of an edge.

Ask to speak to her/him, letting them know that you shop here often and really love this item. Then ask for another reduction in the price. In almost every single case, she/he will comply and you will walk out of there having acquired a very pricy item for pennies on the dollar.

These days, children's apparel is big business with brand names and specialty stores. Kids grow so fast that often clothes, you may have paid dearly for, are tossed aside due to size, before they have even begun to show signs of wear.

What about a clothing exchange? If you belong to the PTA of your child's school, or a church group or similar organizations, why not make use of the gym, a classroom or other space.

Each one brings a bag or two of clothing their child has outgrown and you make an even exchange...item for item or bag for bag. Or..use a ticket method. For every item you bring, that is in good condition (washed, folded and/or ironed, if necessary), you receive a ticket which entitles you to one item of clothing from another's contribution.

How about that sump-pump you need? What are you going to do about that fence that keeps tilting toward your neighbors yard? Need a guitar, so your child can start lessons? Want a new outdoor deck?

Try an old fashioned Barter & Trade Fair. Using similar principles to the clothing exchange...get use of a big enough space (indoors or outdoors), perhaps require each participant to bring a canned good to be contributed to a local food pantry or a baked good to sell to offer a small payment for use of the space.

By announcing this either through a local community paper or school news and giving a "contact" source, a list of potential items and services available for trade can be made and posted.

For example:

Someone who builds decks or repairs fences is looking for piano lessons for his child/children. You happen to teach piano and are in need of his services. With a little match-making and negotiation, an amicable deal can be made. Of course, a union such as this should be detailed in writing.

Someone with an outdated computer system, but still appropriate for a beginner, may need car repairs. You are a mechanic and have been looking for a deal on a first computer for your home. Make a deal.

What about that old but still very nice chair that just sits in your attic collecting dust? Bring it to the fair and see who is interested and what can they offer in exchange?

This is the perfect opportunity to clean out your attics, garages and cubbies of all that stuff you aspire to get rid of in a yard sale, but just never get around to it.

Need car repairs, but don't want to go the route of the Barter and Trade Fair? Contact your local vocational institution, where for the cost of parts and being able to do without your car for a few days is the only expense to you.

Anyone who has ever brown-bagged it, knows the high cost of snacks. Why not check out your local bakery thrift shop? Entenmann's and Wonder are great sources for snacks, saving you upwards of 75% off the cost of regular retail.

In fact, in most areas there are many wholesale food resources. Just check your phone book.

Looking for furniture, but your budget is already strained? Check out your bigger furniture stores for an "as is" room or "scratch and dent" area. Here you will find the same quality and brand name wares with perhaps a small rip, tear, scratch or dent that can no longer be offered in the showroom. You are guaranteed to save up to 90% here.

If you have a little time on your hands, and not exactly looking for anything particular...then watch the papers classified ads for sales and auctions from local storage facilities. For one reason or another, those who have rented space filled with furniture, cars, tools, etc., have either forgotten about it or let the contract lapse. The facility will offer these items at tremendous savings just to recoup a bit of their rental losses.

A great source for stocking stuffers for kids is the Federal Consumer Information Center. Here, you can get educational coloring books, cool bookmarks, jazzy shoe laces, games and even free trees.

Looking for college scholarships, business grants, start up costs for a home based business, research money, etc.? Matthew Lesko's book "Information USA," has it all and then some.

How about trying a new cologne or perfume, or even lotions or make-up, but just do not want to spend a fortune on something that may not wear well?

At every upscale cosmetics and perfume department you can find, free for the asking, good sized samples of just about every product they carry. Just ask.

It's out there. You just have to take the time to look, keep your ears and eyes open and don't be afraid to ask questions.

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