I live in a College town. This time of year is a virtual goldmine when it comes to cheap shopping.
The thrift stores are full of furniture from graduating College students and yard sales pop up everywhere from everyone's spring cleaning projects.
Here are some of my personal tips for having the best time diggin' up these deals:
1. Go with a friend or your spouse. Split up at the store or yard sale. This ensures you will have full coverage of the area and allows both of you to look for things the other might like in a quicker fashion. Just plan to meet back at a point to discuss items found.
2. Grab a cart and just put anything you might like in it. You can discuss later before checkout if it is something you really need or want and if it fits in your budget. You will often see something you want and then decide later in that trip to go back and get it and it is already snagged by another shopper. Putting "maybe" items in your cart basically holds them for you while you decide later. Also, you may find something even better similar to an item you put in your cart, then you can choose between the two.
3. Unless you have lots of time and skill, don't buy things that need repair or are missing parts. I have found that items I bought with then intention of fixing up never end up fixed because of my lack of time, so it is just wasted money and takes up space.
4. Don't be afraid to haggle. If you find a shirt for instance with a small stain, bring it to the cashier's attention. They may be willing to knock off a few dollars.
5. For Yard sales, pick up a paper and scour craigslist to map out your route. You will find it more efficient that way.
6. If you find an item you think you got a good deal on, check out what it's going for on Ebay later. It's always fun to know when you got a screamin' deal and when you didn't. Knowing what the item goes for on Ebay will help you better understand how much you are willing to pay for similar items later.
Photo via flickr by youtube_user_willtrade4food