There are so many articles on the Internet today that talk about saving money, but many of the ideas will only save you 10% or 20% off the full retail price. Sure, this saves you money if you were going to pay the retail price initially, but many of us conscientious spenders aren’t even considering that! At the very least, we’ll look up a coupon code before heading out to the store or we’ll find a promo code before we submit our order online. So, the suggestions about getting discounts by paying with cash, buying in bulk, or by simply asking the manager for a percentage off retail are all well and good, but you could honestly do way better. By thinking outside of the box, you could easily save 70% if not 90% or more on products that you need.

Getting Your Mind Outside of the Retail Box

If you want to buy your future products at 70% off of retail (or more), then you really need to forget about retail all together. Instead, try the options below.

1) Make Friends with Craigslist

A few years ago, I was a real diva. Put simply, I was hiring a lawn care service to cut my .10 acre lot each week. At the time, these were my “rock-solid” reasons for doing so:

  • Buying a push mower would cost at least $125, even on sale
  • There was no room for it, so I would have had to buy a shed for $1,000
  • Lawn mower maintenance could be costly

The above is all true…when only considering the costs of retail. It took a couple seasons, but last year I finally got my head on straight and started thinking outside of the retail box.

First of all, I didn’t need a brand new push mower from Lowes. I could probably get by just fine with a gently used mower off of Craigslist. Second, my yard was only .10 acres in size, so I really didn’t need anything fancy. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I realized that I didn’t even need a gas-powered mower! Instead, I could buy a much more compact reel mower that is completely self-powered. And, this would solve my problem of space. The reel mower was much smaller and could easily be hung on my garage wall!

After thinking outside of the box, I was quickly able to locate a reel mower on Craigslist for only $30. The guy I bought it from had five of them. Apparently he tried to weld them all together to make one big reel mower that he could pull behind his quad. Needless to say, it failed miserably and he just wanted to get rid of the mowers quickly. So, the reel mower was basically brand new and sold at a 70% discount (retail price is around $100)! I found the nicest one, took it home, and have been using it ever since. Craigslist is an excellent source to find a deal on almost any item.

2) Hit Up Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

Just last month, my girlfriend needed a new pair of cross-country skis. If we were like most people, we would put on our coats and boots, and head over to the closest sporting goods store to see what kind of deal we could get on new skis. With this method, we would probably find some pretty amazing skis, but at a cost of $200 or more. Frankly, I’m just too cheap to pay retail prices. I work too hard to just throw my money away like that.

Instead, we started looking at local garage sales and thrift stores in the area. We weren’t able to find the perfect pair immediately, but after about two weeks of browsing a few different thrift stores around town, we hit the jackpot: a pair of barely used Triple Crown skis for only $10. BOOM! Isn’t that awesome?! By just being patient, we were able to save 95% of our money on a nearly-new product!

For items like furniture, sporting equipment, and kitchen items, garage sales and thrift stores are the place to look. Most likely, you’ll save 80% or more off from the typical retail price!

3) Bartering and Borrowing

Society today has taught us to be completely self-sufficient and reliant on no one. In a way, I suppose that’s a good thing, but this way of thinking is killing our bank accounts!

As an example, let’s say that you’re looking at your lawn and you realize that it’s taking over your driveway. Over time, it has just reached beyond the edge of the yard by two or three inches. To solve this problem, you really need to edge your lawn. The only problem is, you don’t have an edger. What’s the typical solution? Well, go buy one of course. And then once you’re done with it you can try to find another spot in the garage for a tool that won’t get used again in two or three years (much like all the others).

Instead, why not borrow or barter? Find a friend or neighbor that owns an edger and ask him if you can borrow it. Heck, you could even pay him $20 for the day and you would still probably come out ahead vs. buying one for yourself. Or, if he has a job that you can handle, then perhaps you could trade services!

This situation actually presented itself to me last summer. As it turns out, my neighbor had a light fixture that needed to be replaced, but he didn’t know anything about electricity and was scared he would kill himself. In exchange for him edging my yard, I installed his light fixture. It was the perfect solution and no money was exchanged! If you are in need of a tool in the future, it might just be better to ask a friend or neighbor than to buy one yourself!

Are you ready to save big by thinking outside of the box?


Derek Sall
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