Thrift store 'bag sales'

Bag a Bargain

by Erin Huffstetler


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We've all heard the expression "bag a bargain," but did you know the real secret to bargain shopping could very well be the bag itself? Read on to learn what the oft-overlooked paper or plastic bag could do for your budget.

Bag Sales - Thrift stores are a great source for bargain-priced clothing, housewares and more, but even bargain prices deserve an occasional price cut. To get the best deals at thrift stores, look for bag sales. These events allow customers to fill up a shopping bag with as many items as they can for a set price, often as low as $1 to $5! Shop carefully, pack tightly, and one bag could easily be stretched to fit enough clothes for an entire season. Check with your area stores to see if they have any bag sales coming up. Then, mark your calendar, and plan to get there early.

Happily, thrift stores aren't the only places to offer bag sales. Many department stores offer bag sales to benefit local charities, or will offer bag sales as a tie in with their special holiday pricing. To get in on the action, be sure to check your local newspaper around big shopping holidays like Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. In some cases, you may even find a shopping bag inserted in your paper!

Here's a tip. If you don't subscribe to the paper, and suddenly find a complimentary copy on your front lawn, there's a good chance a department store has paid for you to receive it. Look for a bag sale announcement inside. Then, get busy planning the bargains you'll nab.

Bag Meals - Eating out at fast food restaurants can be a real budget wrecker when you're trying to feed a hungry family. Fortunately, there's a simple way to take control of the cost, without sacrificing the fun of eating out. And that's bag meals.

Instead of having each family member order a separate meal, order one family meal to satisfy everyone's needs. This could be a chicken dinner from your local fried chicken place, complete with drinks and sides, or a taco pack with enough hard and soft tacos to feed an army. Either way, you'll enjoy easier ordering, a cheaper bill and a tasty, all-in-one-bag meal.

Bagged Produce - For the best deals on produce, avoid per-pound pricing when you can. Instead look for bagged deals. This could be a prepackaged bag of apples for a price, or even a set price to fill your own bag. Either way, you're sure to save money over per-pound pricing, which tends to be reserved for the biggest and, therefore, heaviest produce.

Bags Over Boxes - You go to the grocery store planning to buy food, but often what you end up paying for is the packaging. To ensure your food dollars actually go towards the purchase of food, look for foods that are bagged instead of boxed or canned. These usually cost the manufacturer less to produce, meaning more savings for you. Cereal, nuts, cookies and frozen fruits and veggies are just a few of the many grocery items to which this strategy applies.

Bag Returns - Extend the life of both your grocery bags and your dollars by bringing your bags back to the store on your next visit. Many grocery stores are now charging customers for grocery bags, but you can get around this fee by reusing your bags again and again. It's a simple strategy that's as good for you as it is for the environment.

So, give the undervalued bag its due, and it's sure to mean loads more savings for you.


Erin Huffstetler is a freelance writer and mother of two who resides in East Tennessee. She is the Guide of the Frugal Living section at About.com and the owner of the site My Frugal Home.

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