Personal Finance, Saving Money, Shopping

Why You Should Read Store Advertisements

As I sit at my desk typing this column, it is Sunday afternoon. My newspaper, now read and enjoyed over several cups of tea and a few cups of coffee, lies scattered at my feet. When I have the energy to rise from my office chair, I will be visiting my garage to deposit today’s news in my recycling bins. The weekly advertizing inserts, however, will remain in my office for the rest of the coming week.

Even if I do not anticipate any shopping trips, I will take the time to read all of the ads — not just for the stores that I like, but for every store that includes an insert in the paper. I do this every week because even if I am not headed to the store, I know that the information I gather will be useful later on.

For the same reason that I read newspaper advertisements, I don’t fast forward through all of the commercials when I watch network TV. Although television commercials do not always have the entertainment value that they once had (“Coke is It!” and “Be a Pepper! Drink Dr. Pepper” still stand out from my childhood), they still can convey useful knowledge.

For example, over the past month, I have been busy supplementing my wardrobe. I decided to do so because a Jos. A. Banks store opened about a mile from my house, much closer to home than any other gentlemen’s clothier.

I knew that I needed trousers, shirts and a sport coat. On the day of my first visit, Jos. A Banks was offering a “Buy One, Get Two Free” sale, a good deal, especially since I could mix and match trousers and sports coats, but still not the right deal for me. The sports coat that I wanted was $400 and the pants were only $150. If I bought the sports coat and the pants, I would have saved only $300 and I would still have needed another pair of trousers. Accordingly, I bought three pair of pants for a total of $150 and still saved $300!

I was patient for a week or two and then received a flyer that announced a “Buy Six, Get 60% off sale.” That was my opportunity to purchase my shirts. The shirts were usually priced $50 each but, by purchasing six shirts, I was able to save $30 per shirt. Of course, I still did not have my blazer but after another week or two, I noticed that blazers were on sale for $150. I quickly went into the store and saved $250.

Obviously, or so I suspect, you are not particularly interested in my wardrobe. I offer the above, however, as an object lesson. Had I not been very familiar with the Jos. A. Banks sale pattern, I might have purchased all of my needed wardrobe additions at the same time. I still would have saved money, but not nearly as much as I saved by waiting for the sales that I knew would come. I purchased $1,150 worth of fine clothing for a total purchase price of $420 and I knew when I deferred my purchases that I would save about as much as I did by waiting.

The same analysis comes into play every time I shop because I know what each store offers as a typical sale. I also know when a store offers pricing that is better than its usual “best” pricing. I also enjoy the hunt to get those deals.

When you shop, do you go prepared with the knowledge of a store’s or a product’s sales history? How much research do you do before you make small purchases? What if you are making a major purchase?

6 thoughts on “Why You Should Read Store Advertisements

  1. I have a friend who likes to travel “lonely planet” style (inexpensively to those not familiar with it) who recently came back from a trip and, in talking, realized that she hadn’t researched certain things before she left.

    For instance, she likes to buy gifts for family and friends and thought she’d go the jewelry route this time. The first thing she noticed was that it seemed like she was seeing the same jewelry outside mayan ruins that she saw when she visited China. Next she noticed that she had no idea whether the prices were inexpensive or in line with those in the US. To top everything, she kept seeing some red stone and didn’t know whether it was a precious or semi-precious stone that is known for being prevalent in the region. Result: She didn’t pick up anything! lol

    She and I talked about researching what an area is known for before she visits it and researching cost here in the US before she leaves. She’s also looking for unique and I get a lot of catalogs (despite having attempted to stop them and cutting back on the number received drastically!) so I give her catalogs of the unique so that she can be aware of what’s out there and frequently where it’s being imported from.

    On a side note, while in China she saw some beautiful carved peach (?) pits which were terribly expensive. At a local flea market, she saw a vendor with a whole necklace of them at 1/5 of what she would have had to pay had she been able to afford them during her trip. Obviously, the vendor hadn’t done his research! She snapped them up and was happy as a clam.

    Most of my purchases involve equipment or stuff for the house. I know that furniture generally goes on sale in January/February and wait to replace a chair until then. Right now, I’m planning on replacing my air conditioning and furnace. I remember that in the fall and spring I’ve seen deals and there’s no urgency, so I’m waiting. I know my equipment suppliers and when is best and who generally has the best prices.

  2. How a deal is structured can save a little money of alot of money as you proved in your article.

  3. Same reason to read grocery ads. The papers offered $5 off coupon on a razor this week and it was interesting to see the actual cost of the razor per store and that the best price overall was in a grocery store ad good next week, assuming I decide to buy it! But I’ve been learning alot about the newer ways of shopping with coupons through the eating on a dollar posts from Jeffrey and I have begun a bigger effort to be careful and watch prices before I buy and to be able to recognize a good sale when I do.

  4. On major purchases I research like crazy to make sure that I am getting the right product at a fair price.

    On small purchases I have a good memory for what items cost and am a good judge as to what they should cost. So I buy items only when they are on sale. I do know how to pay full retail price for anything.

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