If one of your New Year's resolutions is to live better but spend less, consider these retail replacement tips that accomplish just that.
1. Private Label Organic Food vs. Major Brand Organics
I buy organic when it makes financial sense or when it's the only choice I have, but I don't seek organic labels. Mostly because national-brand organic options are still quite expensive compared to their conventional counterparts, and I've eaten non-organic food for the past 38 years of my life so the proverbial "damage" is done at this point. If you're an organic-food loyalist, however, shopping at discounts grocers like Aldi will help you cut back on the high cost of certified foods – despite that you might have to dig through the expiring produce to find an edible specimen.
2. Expanding Your Search Area When Buying a New Home
I'm not someone who's going to advocate renting over buying in any case; I wholly believe that home ownership and real estate is one of the last bastions of the American dream. Instead, when searching for a home that has everything you could want, including a sky-high price attached to it, why not consider something equally attractive (if not better) in a different market with lower prices?
Compare property rental and buying prices per square foot between the first-choice location and the bordering cities or counties (or state, if practical) then calculate transportation costs to work, amenities, family and friends. For example, many people who work in Baltimore City or Baltimore County actually live in Pennsylvania, where they can purchase more house and upgrades for the same or less money than comparable homes and neighborhoods in Maryland.
3. Home Furnishing Resale Shops vs. Major Furniture Retailers
Before you head out to the big-box stores for your new bedroom or living room set, take a stroll through some of your local furniture resale shops. Sometimes they have hidden gems – better-quality pieces for a fraction of the cost – that can save you a bundle over higher-end retailers' prices. I always hit up stores like HomeSense and Big Lots, and check the clearance section of IKEA and browse Facebook Marketplace before I ever step foot into a dedicated furniture store. The result is often something much quirkier, cooler and cheaper than I would have found at a warehouse or department store.
4. Stocking Up on Quality Meats and Champagne During Holiday Sales
Want to dine like a prince all year round on the budget of a pauper? Stock up on indulgent food items like premium cuts of meat, seafood and champagne during sales, which are popular around the holidays, including after the upcoming Valentine's holiday.
Holiday sales events in grocery stores offer you an average of 67% savingson those decadent steaks, whole rib roasts, shrimp, lobster and champagne. These are often loss leaders and featured on the front page of the sales circulars during the week leading up to the holiday. Enjoy the week the sale hits for the holiday event, plus stock your freezer with savings for more splurges in between.
5. Pre-Owned Electronics vs. New-in-Box Devices
Is it important for you to have a new-in-box phone or tablet, or can you handle a previously owned version, which is in like-new condition, for a huge percentage less than the never-been-used version? If you want to save a substantial amount of money, you'll opt for the latter. One outlet where you can score previously owned, in-excellent-condition devices is Gazelle.com.
These gently used devices go through a 30-plus-point inspection process to make sure that they are as like-new as possible, and can be purchased for a significant savings when compared to buying new. For example, Gazelle is selling an iPhone 11 64GB starting at $549. New from Apple, the same device would cost $699. Decent enough difference to consider the refurb.