Six strange places I have tried to save money

I love to save money.  Clipping coupons and shopping at thrift stores are part of my regular routine.  But sometimes my frugal fervor takes me to strange places.   Following are six of the craziest ways I’ve tried to save money.

Salvaging groceries.  Salvage stores take unsalable stock from traditional stores to sell at a reduced price.  Items in salvage stores are in various states of distress: dented, stained, taped together, dusty, open, or crumpled.  You can save money shopping at a salvage store compared to shopping at the traditional grocery store; however, it’s anything but convenient to shop this way and they don’t carry everything I need.  Did I save money?  Yes.  Will I do it again?  Probably not.

Staging my home.  Home builders stage model homes so that potential homebuyers can imagine living there.   Most model homes stagers go beyond the basics and stage homes with beautiful and creative touches in every corner.   When all of the homes are sold, the builders or staging company might offer the model home furniture for sale to the public.  Model home furniture might have some dings and dents from the moving process, but since the furniture is never really used, it is often in good condition.  One thing you need to know is that some items used to stage a home  are only good for looking at and have no practical use in a real home.  For example, along with a beautiful couch, a model home furniture sale might offer a plate of fake food!   Did I save money?  Yes.  Will I do it again?  If I am in the market for furniture, yes!

Cashing in before closing.  When a company closes a store, goes out of business, or goes through a restructuring due to bankruptcy, they often try to reduce their inventory by holding a going out of business sale. These sales sound great, but I quickly noticed that prices aren't that great and that much of the merchandise is being sold is out-of-season and out-of-style. Also, merchandise isn’t always from the store that is closing – liquidation companies often bring in extra items in to make the most of the excitement. Even with all of this knowledge, I’m still so susceptible to this types of sale that I had to create a store closing sale pact with myself.  Did I save money?  No.  Will I do it again?  I hope not.  (You'd hope I have learned my lesson after buying half of a couch!)

Standing in line.  The day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday, is a big day for retailers.  One of the ways retailers try encourage consumers to shop is by offering “early bird” sales.  Some early bird sales offer an extra percentage off if you get there before the sun rises.  Other early bird sales offer a specific item or items are a drastically reduced rate as supplies last, so you have to get there early.  This last advertising tactic is the one that got me to stand in line at 5am on a very cold November morning.  Unfortunately, supplies didn’t last long and I didn’t get the great deal; the only thing I got for my effort was a cold.  Did I save money?  No.  Will I do it again?  Don’t wake me up.

Scrapping for samples.   Designers show samples of their items to store buyers in hope that they will purchase them to sell in their retail stores.  Sample sales are held to sell these sample pieces as well as overstock items. I was invited to a sample sale that was held in a warehouse where tables were piled with clothes and shoppers were trying on items without regard to privacy.   The prices were great, but sizes were limited.  Although I was totally unprepared for the competitive nature of this event, I was able to snag a few bargains.   Did I save money?  Yes.  Will I do it again?  Just send the invite!

Shopping an entire estate.  Estate sales are held when a large portion of a person’s belongings are being sold due to a death or move.  I’ve been to three estate sales in my life, but have never bought a thing.  One sale was actually a garage sale that was trying to sound more important by using the word “estate.”   The second estate sale I attended offered only two stained couches, an ancient piano, and mismatched silverware.  The last estate sale actually was selling every single item the occupants had owned — complete with half gallons of paint and dirty pots and pans.  I guess I'm too sentimental because I found the whole thing too sad to shop.  Did I save money?  No.  Will I do it again.  Never. 

Have you gone to these or any other strange places to save money?  I’d love to hear about your experience!

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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