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Four Part Radical Guide to Paying Off Debt and Saving More

This is part three of a four part series. I’ve already covered general ideas and living a healthy lifestyle cheaply; this part is about shopping smarter, avoiding impulse buys and bargaining.

Paying off debt is not easy as I’ve shown in part one and part two of this series. Some ways of paying of debt may be unconventional, but the value of your time will always outweigh debt if you are using your time effectively and for the big picture. You may think some of the other ways I will show you to pay off debt are unconventional as well, but they are for your own benefit. I will continue to show you ways to pay off debt and save more for a brighter future.


Never pay full price for anything anymore

If you’re paying for something at its original and full price, you’re not thinking about your money or your financial goals. You should always look for discounts and deals. Even things that used to not have frequent discounts, like restaurant food, have been advertising discounts with Groupon.com and similar sites. Probably the only things of true necessity that you won’t be able to get on discount are city fees, county fees, medical costs and tap water. Everything, even housing and groceries, can be gotten with a discount.

There are three main problems preventing the acquirement of discounts and deals

  1. Lack of Access
  2. Impatience
  3. Ignorance

As a rule, we don’t have control over lack of access. Sometimes I’ll see a great deal online in a buy and sell group or on Craigslist, but it is fifty miles out of the way. Bummer. If I know the item is a really amazing deal and I know a friend who lives in that area, I might ask them for help getting that item for me and then mailing it to me or passing it to me the next time I see them. It has to be much cheaper in the long run for me to go through this hassle.

Impatience is probably the hardest temptation to battle against. The biggest way to combat this is by not buying anything until at least a month has passed when you had the first desire to purchase the item. You shouldn’t price check during this time, you should just see if you really need the item or if you can figure out a way to solve your need with a life hack solution. Then, if you still need this item after a month, you can begin to price check for the item.

Circumventing this rule should be a practice reserved for true emergencies; price checking should never be circumvented unless you’re in a medical emergency.

  • What should be considered a true emergency?
  • Natural Disaster/Crisis Related Emergencies
  • Cars Completely Breaking Down (but this should be avoided with DIY or discounted regular maintenance)
  • Household Accidents
  • Medical Related Emergencies

Ignorance of prices is a problem we have complete control over. We can even know the manufacturing base cost by researching on sites like Alibaba. That’s a lot of power for you to know if the seller is making a normal 100-200% profit or if they’re taking you to the cleaners. You’ll cry if you look on Alibaba to see how much mattress factories pay for a single foam mattress when bought in bulk, (that price does not include transportation fees from the port to the warehouse, warehouse costs and overhead, but still!). So, to counteract your ignorance, check prices for everything. Read grocery flyers, newsletters and advertisements even if you don’t need the merchandise advertised so you can begin to build a memory database of normal prices. You will be able to spot a good deal when you see one. Keep a list of things you foresee yourself buying in the next year and keep a written or digital record of the prices you see advertised. Most people have their cell phones with them everywhere, so utilizing your phone will be easy. Google Shopping and the NetPlenish App are powerful tools that let you compare prices across the online world, but don’t forget about sites like Groupon, CouponTessa, Craigslist and Facebook Buy and Sell groups that won’t be indexed into these tools. Also remember that you could barter a service or item you already have for something you want instead of purchasing it with cash.

To do even more navigation of deals and discounts, you could:

  • Sign up for company mail and online newsletters and coupon lists
  • Sign up for blogs that look for nationwide deals and local deals
  • Utilize Freecycle
  • Join or start a Facebook Friendswap
  • Shop at Thrift Stores and Yard Sales
  • Shop just to check prices
  • Call brick and mortar stores to check prices and save on gas
  • Check brick and mortar retailer’s websites for prices
  • Learn How to Bargain
  • Know that most brick and mortar retailers will at least match the non-online advertised prices of a competitor, but you need to provide proof, (this is especially the case with Wal-Mart)


How to Bargain

Before you try to bargain, you need to remember a few things:

  • Attractive and charming people have an advantage in bargaining
  • Dress nicely, but not richly
  • Be well groomed
  • Be honest, not rude
  • Relax and see bargaining as a social game, not a win-lose situation

Don’t assume that the price tag in a store is the final price, especially if it isn’t a large retail chain. And then, even in some chains, managers might have power to offer discounts to customers who are on the fence about purchasing an item. When you’re in a shop, you could say some of the following phrases to open up the floor for bargaining with the manager or shop owner:

  • “This is more expensive than I’m willing to pay; are there any discounts available right now?”
  • “Will there be a time in the next two months when there is a discount for this item?”
  • “Do you have any customer loyalty programs that would allow me to work toward getting a discount?”
  • “I’ve checked prices for this elsewhere, and it’s only $40 at Grady’s. Are you willing to give me a discount to at least $40?”

When you’re bargaining over a used item, it’s best to get to know the seller a bit first. Be cordial and relate to the seller. Find out where they’re from, what they do, why they’re selling the item and chase any rabbit trails you possibly can. While they’re talking, give them your attention through eye contact. They’ll trust you more this way. Then inspect the item. You need to know beforehand the brand new price and the used price for the item when it’s sold around other parts of your county or state. If you notice any defects and wear, point them out and ask about how the wear happened. If it’s not at least fifty percent off the brand new price, try to bargain them down to that price. Say something like, “Most used things are sold at half their original value; what’s the case for selling this at 75% the original value?” If they don’t really have an answer, ask if they would accept the half price. If it’s already cheaper than other like items, ask for just a smidgeon off the asking price like this, “Would you accept $24 for it?” The worst thing that could happen is that they say no. Just make sure to have the exact change for either a “yes” or a “no.”

Check out the whole series

Part One – The General Overview

Part Two – Cheap and Healthy Eating and Living

Part Three – Shop Smarter

Part Four – My 18 Favorite Life Hacks

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