How to Bargain Shop

Like most of us in these tough economic times, you are looking for bargains. Before you begin to bargain-shop you must first understand what a bargain is! Let us face it, many of us tend to purchase items that are on sale (i.e. a bargain). For just a minute, consider how many times have you been in your local market, department store, or shoe store and saw what looked like a great bargain and decided to pick it up. Now consider how many of those items have you actually used? One of the biggest hazards of bargain-shopping is that often, we will purchase items that are “on sale” or “today only” just to arrive home and wonder “Why did I do that?”

Real Bargain Shopping

There are some basic rules to follow when shopping for bargains. In fact, you should ask yourself these questions before you purchase any item that is on sale that you consider a bargain:

1. Will I be using this item in the next six months? – The fact of the matter is that if you purchase a “bargain” to sit in your closet, basement or cupboard, it is probably not that much of a bargain! Consider carefully the use of the item you are purchasing. If it is something that you know will be used in the next six months, then chances are that it may very well be a great bargain.

2. Do I need this? – Separating wants from needs is critical to successful bargain-shopping. If the item (or items) you are considering purchasing are something you or a family member needs, then it’s probably a great bargain. Examples of this would be bulk grocery items, jackets, shoes, etc., If this is something you merely “want” such as the latest version of a video game, garments that are not useful for everyday wear, etc., then chances are it is not a real bargain at all!

3. Can I give this as a gift? – If you are committed to a number of gifts each year for birthdays and holidays, bargain shopping could be a great tool for you. If you have the room to store them, buying gifts early could ultimately save you a lot of money.

What types of items are bargains?

Perhaps you are confused as to what separates a bargain from a non-bargain. Typically bargains fall into the following categories:

Food – Let’s face it, we have to feed our families. If you see an item that you normally purchase as part of your regular grocery orders (non-perishables of course) selling for a low price, this is a great time to stock up! Don’t fall into the trap of purchasing items that are on sale that your family isn’t partial to.

Clothing – Forget the “latest fad” and instead focus on sturdy, practical clothes and shoes. If you see these at steep discounts be sure to buy them in proper sizes. Do not fall into the trap of purchasing an elegant evening gown that is on sale if you are unlikely to wear it in the next couple of months. Practical, everyday clothing is a much more sensible bargain.

Pet Supplies – While this will require some caution (dry food can develop worms and other infestations), canned pet food, cat litter and other “disposable” pet products can be a great bargain. If you find these items on sale, it may be a great idea to pick up this bargain.


When an item catches your fancy at the store it is not always a great bargain if it is not practical. Do not purchase things that you normally would not purchase just because they are on sale. These are just a few of the ways that you can bargain-shop successfully.