MONEYWISE: Return & Re-Buy to Save Money

Image Credit: micheile dot com on Unsplash

At the risk of sounding like a grandma: have you noticed that everything is getting more expensive? (Why, in my day, you could buy a chocolate bar for 50 cents! True story.)

I mean, I understand inflation, but since COVID I've noticed prices going up dramatically everywhere. Therefore, any tip that allows us as consumers to save money is worth sharing.

One of my favourite money-saving tricks is what I call the 'Return & Re-Buy.'

Here's how it works - (let's use clothes as an example, because this is what I usually apply the method to):

I buy the item at full price, at the beginning of the season when new collections come out in stores. I do this because I need a specific size, and it's only at the beginning of a season that all sizes are available. If I wait, my size will be gone.

(I'm sure you've looked through sale racks where, although the items were lovely and the prices were right, the sizes would only fit either a leprechaun or a giraffe. Like, who's gonna wear that?!)

Before I buy though, I check the return policy. I only purchase items from stores that have a generous policy, meaning that as long as I still have the receipt and tags on the item, they'll take it back with no questions asked. I also rarely buy items from a store that has less than a 30-day return window.

I take the item home, but I do not use it - I leave it in the box and/or with the tags on. I'll often pin the receipt to the item, or put it into the box to make sure I don't lose it.

Then I'll put a reminder in my calendar to go online after 3-weeks and check the price of the item. If the item is on sale (which it almost always is), then within that last week of return eligibility, I'll bring the un-used item with my receipt to the store.

The store might then tell me that they don't do price adjustments; meaning that if I bought an item and it goes on sale, they won't give me a refund on the difference.

That's fine - this is why I haven't used the item. Because at that point, in it's brand-new condition, with the tags still on and my receipt, and being within the return-window, the store has no choice but to refund the item, and then allow me to re-purchase it at the new lower price.

(Seriously, what are they going to say? "No, we won't allow you to re-purchase this item because we find your level of financial savviness irritating"? That's not a thing.)

This method takes a bit of time and organization, so I only do it for purchases which I consider to be 'big ticket items' and where I know because of past experience (read: cuz I got burned) that the sale price will be well worth the extra effort to get a better deal.

For example, when I used to work in an office pre-COVID, I needed to own nice blazers. I would purchase the blazer at full price when the new season's collection came out so that I could get the size I needed, and then when it inevitably went on sale within that next month, I would bring the blazer back - tags still on, with my receipt - and return and re-purchase the item.

I never - ever - paid full price for a blazer, and this resulted in an average savings of 30-40% off the original price.

I want nice things, but I don't want to pay full price for them. And the fact that the store can afford to put the item on sale for 30-40% off and still make a profit lets me know that - at full price - we're all overpaying for our goods.

As long as you can let go of the need for instant gratification, and are willing to do a little bit of leg-work (online research, and going back to the store a second-time) then you can have nice things and save a lot of money.

(If you're not that patient, and think this sounds like too much effort, may I take a moment to congratulate you on being such a baller?)

Image Credit: Jp Valery on Unsplash

In the very rare instance that the item doesn't go on sale (I've personally never experienced this), then you still have the choice to simply return the item and get your money back. No one says you have to keep it, and as long as you fully understand and correctly apply the return policy, you have nothing to lose.

Because we live in a consumer culture, the turn-around of merchandise in stores is very high. Displays change from week-to-week and new items come in all the time. In order to create the shelf-space and lure customers in, sales are nearly constant.

I'm not a gambler, but the fact that an item bought at full price will go on sale within 30-days of purchase is something that I constantly bet on - and win.

Me: 1
House: 0

Don't hate the player, hate the game; when you understand the system, you can leverage it to your advantage.

Image Credit: Riho Kroll on Unsplash


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