This post is part of a 30 days series called the 30 steps program to financial independence. You can check the list of other posts here.
Yesterday, I talked about priorities on your spending, and making a list of what is important to you, hence dedicating a bigger portion of your income to it, and what is secondary, or unnecessary, and cutting back on those expenses.
I told you my list of important things was traveling, eating well, technology and quality, reliable items. For all of those things, I am ready to shell out more money than most.
I ride a BMW 2010 motorcycle that I bought a few months ago for over $10,000. I bought it to go on a 15,000 miles + journey across Europe and needed a quality, reliable bike that would not fail me after a couple of weeks. I have used it for 12,000 miles and have absolutely NOTHING to report, it has behaved perfectly.
I could have gone for a much, much cheaper bike. And I would probably be by the side of the road, cursing right now at yet another technical problem.
I was ready and happy to spend a good amount of money on my bike. But I made sure I didn’t spend a penny more than necessary.
Taking me to my point: try to get things that are important to you cheap, or at a heavy discount. I furnished my 3 bed flat for about $1,000 three years ago, by looking at Craigslist and finding good, quality pieces sold at a heavy discount. A bed was barely used.
The same goes for the technology items I purchase. When it is time to buy a new laptop, I research the cheapest price for a laptop that has what I NEED. Most people don’t use 10% of the capacity of their laptops and yet feel the need to replace them every 12 months. My laptop is small, compact, a must for traveling, it is also sturdy and strong. It has fallen many, many times, got wet and been used in many climates. Still running strong after almost 3 years. And it cost me about $350 at the time.
I looked it up online, saw different items, waited until after Christmas to get a sales price, looked if I could get an extra coupon, etc.
All in all, when you are ready to spend X on an item, make sure you can’t spend X -10%, or X+free delivery, or get a free option, etc.
How to do that?
Search until you are blue. Be it a plane ticket, a big household item or a new dress, there is surely a promotion somewhere. You can surely wait for the sale, but also research coupons, bulk purchase offers, special offers
Don’t be too specific. I wanted a compact laptop. Not a brand, not a color, something that would let me do my job online and have a lasting battery. By not being too specific, I was able to get a great price on a great item.
Go in store if you need to try the item or get advice, then do your online research. There are some apps that allow you to compare prices right on your smartphone, giving you more leverage to ask for a rebate in store, I prefer to go home, cool off, and research it on my laptop.
Bargain. If you are in store, ask for special offers, a free pouch or extra battery for your laptop, or a discount for paying cash. The worst you can get is being turned down, and taking your business elsewhere.
Buy the display item. In store, there is always an item on display for people to try. It comes with the same guarantee than the boxed items, and is usually sold after a while at a great discount.
Know what you NEED. If you need an item to do X, Y, Z, why buy an item that also does W (assuming that other item is more expensive, if cheaper, by all means go for it!)? I am not a big techie so I need a basic laptop with a long battery life because I often stay without a plug in airports or camping for a few days. Nothing more.
Check out cashback sites. In the UK I use quidco.co.uk, and in France igraal.fr, they give me back a small % on my purchases at certain merchants. I got about $600 back in the last 3 years.
By following those simple steps, you can save money and still get the items you want.