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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tips for shopping smarter

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I was reading an article in U.S. News & World Report the other day about things one should never buy new, and it got me thinking about how many things I own are secondhand.

I very rarely buy anything new, and if I do it's on sale (usually clearance).

I am a movie junkie, and if I were to buy new every movie I wanted I would go broke.

When the movies first come out, they're upwards of $20 apiece. The price inches downward ... first they're $15, then $13, then $7.50 and so on, until they eventually end up in the $5 bin.

But that takes a long, long time. It can take a year or longer for a movie to get to that big bargain box in the middle of the electronics department.

I generally buy my movies from one of two places: The movie rental store, where they are $7.95 a month after they're released, or on e-Bay, where you can get a fairly new movie for less than $5 (you have to watch out, though ... people will try to gouge you on shipping).

Books are another vice I have that could easily send me right to the poorhouse.

While I admit to buying new books every now and again, I only do that when they're tomes penned by my very favorite authors, and if I can get the book in paperback I do so.

But my favorite way to buy books is on eBay, and I'll tell you why.

If you have a favorite author or genre, there are often lots of books you can buy.

People are always cleaning out their bookshelves, and desperate to get rid of old books they will lump a whole bunch together for a really, really low price.

I love true crime books, and I once got a lot of 10 true crime books -- good ones by authors like Aphrodite Jones and Ann Rule -- for $1.

The shipping was something like $5, but it was still an excellent deal.

I also found lots of Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books. These were two of my favorite authors when I was a kid, and I loved that I was able to get all their books for cheap.

I can now share those stories with my kids, and I will save them for my grandkids.

Special occasion clothing is another item you can really save on by purchasing used.

My daughter did pageants when she was in middle school and high school, and of probably a dozen or so gowns we bought for her over a six-year period, two of them were new.

We shopped around on e-Bay and at consignment shops, and we always found great stuff (it took some looking, but we did it).

More than once, we found gowns that had never even been worn and still had the tags attached -- we once got a gown with a $300 price tag for less than $20.

The cool thing about that was, when we were done with her dresses we could put them right back up for sale.

It was like a trade-out thing.

She had couple she really liked that she still has, but most of them went back on e-Bay or consignment so we'd have money to buy the next gown. We probably re-circulated the same 100 bucks for five years.

Baby furniture and clothes were two other places I saved big by not buying much new.

When I was pregnant with my daughter in the summer of1990, my mom and I trolled yard sales every weekend.

We ended up with a crib, changing table, bassinet, high chair, playpen, clothes and who knows what else for about a tenth of the price we'd have paid if we had bought everything new (of course there are items, such as car seats, that you don't want to buy used).

Some of the things we bought needed some fixing up, but I have wonderful memories of sanding and painting nursery furniture with my dad in his workshop and running loads upon loads of baby clothes through the washer with Dreft with my mom in preparation for Dani's arrival.

When my son was born 11 years later, I did the same thing.

I have also become a pretty avid Goodwill shopper.

It can be daunting at first ... there is a lot of stuff in there, and if you're looking for something specific you can have a tough time finding it quickly.

But if you take the time to really look through the racks, you can find some great bargains.

I've gotten my daughter designer-brand clothes that have never been worn for less than $3 per item.

It's a commitment, but in the end it's worth it.

Like many women, I love to shop and I love the feeling of bringing home shiny, brand-new items.

But when you're on a budget, bargain hunting can be just as much of a thrill.

Jamie Barrand is the editor of the Banner Graphic.