— By KATHY SMITH
In this tough economy many people are looking for “deals.” Frugality is “in” and people at all income levels are seeking ways to lower expenses so they can save more and/or repay debt.
A good way to save money is to “step down” by finding ways to buy things less expensively to get more for your money.
Stepping down to reduce household expenses can be like visualizing steps and imagining on the top step as the most expensive way to buy an item and the steps below less expensive and the bottom step as the least expensive way to purchase.
An example would be like buying pancakes for breakfast. The most expensive method would be at a full service restaurant and paying about $5 to $10. The next step would be buying pancakes at a fast food restaurant for around $3. Go down one step on the staircase and you might pay about $1 for frozen pancakes at the grocery store then down a step, 25 cents for pancakes that you prepared with a mix. The bottom of the stair case would be the cheapest method, pancakes prepared from scratch. “Stepping down” provides a variety of purchase options ranging from the very costly to the most frugal.
“Stepping down” can also refer to the frequency or amount of a purchase as well as where it is made. For example, you may decide to eat out two or three times a month instead of five or six. You are not completely eliminating an activity that you enjoy. You are simply taking steps to reduce the cost. Or you might “step down” by eliminating an appetizer, drink or dessert when you eat out. Again, you are enjoying the pleasure of eating out, but doing so for less money and calories.
There are many places to practice the “step down” shopping method these days such as garage sales, flea markets, consignment stores, thrift shops and online resale web sites. Thrift shops are increasingly becoming community centers as well as great places to find bargains. Many thrift stores are operated by non-profit organizations, so not only are you saving money you may be supporting a good cause.
Consignment stores are operated as both, for profit small businesses or as fundraisers for non-profit organizations. Consignment stores split the profit on items offered for sale with their previous owner, thus affording people an opportunity to both make money on unneeded items and find great bargains.
Next time you need to buy something, consider “stepping down” in our communities in Parker County by visiting a thrift shop or consignment store. You will not only find items as very attractive, but you will help support a local small business or non-profit agency. Remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You never know what you might find.
Source: Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.