On Memorial Day Weekend my fiancée and I made a quick stop on the way home to Old Navy. If you hadn’t heard, they were having a $1 flip-flop sale on Saturday only, and I wanted a pair to wear to the beach for the summer. We get out of the car, knowing that the purchase will only take about five minutes (I know my size—6.5— I just need to pick a color). But soon we notice the front door to Old Navy, and the throngs of people going in and out of them. I think to myself, “Surely they can’t all be here at 10:00 am on a holiday weekend for a pair of $1 flip flops?” As we entered the store, the lines starting back at the toddler’s mannequins told the story (think 4:00 am on the morning the new iPhone debuted. Each person in line was clutching at least three pairs of flip-flops, waiting anxiously to pay and leave, and the store display of flip flops was completely empty.

Fortunately for me, buying that $1 pair of flip flops was not the height of my week, nor did I necessarily need them (I have an older pair of flip flops that are too worn to wear everyday, but that can certainly be repurposed for beach trips). But many times, there are deals for products that I am in need of, or am counting on, or am just really excited about and feel crushed after coming home empty-handed because other frugalites have beat me to it. Has this ever happened to you?

Here are some strategies I use to cope with the kind of shopping hysteria created by 24-cent tubes of toothpaste and $2.00 refrigerator coca-cola packs:

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  • I like to do my drugstore shopping on Sundays around mid-morning; this gives me enough time to get my papers, look through the coupons, and put together a list (think ‘early bird catches the worm’), and usually not enough time for other people who are frugal but wish to sleep in (fortunately I am a morning person!).
  • Many stores will offer rainchecks if they are out of a promotional item; check in the sales flyer because they usually specify if they will not give a raincheck for a particular item. You will need to see customer service for this.
  • If you know a frugally-minded friend who is going to pick up a discounted item and lives closer to other drugstores than yourself, give them your coupons and ask that they purchase the item for you. You can do the same for them in the future!
  • Have several different store locations in mind that you can try for a particular item. Also, if you live in a city, try to find a drugstore that is on the outskirts (but not entirely out of the way for you) and is located in a lesser-populated area.
  • Shop on rainy days. I have found that without fail, a rainy day can thwart the efforts of even the most frugal of people. Chances are you’ll be the only one in line!

I am not suggesting that you change your entire life to get a $0.10 can of tomato sauce. But there are ways that will help you to beat out the crowd and allow you to purchase some excellent products at a small cost to you. Good luck out there!

5 replies
  1. BluSky
    BluSky says:

    Honestly, I avoid sales like the Old Navy one you mentioned just so I won’t find myself in a situation like you described. My reasoning for that is akin to yours in your blog where you were asking yourself how much your time was worth. Plus I tend to be a little snobby when it comes to the general public and can usually find someone in line that is in close proximity to me that I would rather not be ; )

  2. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    I’ll take advantage of an awesome sale if it just happens to be where I’m shopping, but I will walk out of a store if the line to check out is really long…I hate lines more than I like my frugalness 🙂

    Hats off to those that shop the day after Thanksgiving to get the great sales…I try to stock up on food and stuff just so I don’t have to go out that day! Plus, you can take advantage of some of the same huge sales online 🙂

    Sorry you couldn’t get your sandals 🙁

  3. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Hey Crystal! Thanks for the comment. I went sale shopping the day after Thanksgiving once with my mother several years ago, and it was quite the experience. We had fun at it, but probably because it was a bonding time and we have only done it once:). We actually started at 5:00 am and beat many people to the stores, then had breakfast afterwards and went back to sleep! Hahahaha.

    Keep reading!

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