‘Bargainomics Lady’ shares money-saving strategies

Published 1:51 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Bargainomics Lady" Judy Bates displays items she bought at discounted rates during a Chilton County Extension Office program on Tuesday.

“Bargainomics Lady” Judy Bates displays items she bought at discounted rates during a Chilton County Extension Office program on Tuesday.

With her table full of discounted items and years of experience under her belt, Judy Bates, otherwise known as the “Bargainomics Lady,” shared as much bargain-finding advice as she could with local residents Tuesday morning.

Bates spoke about shopping at store sales, clipping coupons and digging for discounts and deals to nearly 30 people at Clanton City Hall as part of a Chilton County Extension Office program.

“There are deals to be found everywhere,” Bates said. “The biggest thing you can do is ask. The worst they can tell you is ‘no.’”

One strategy Bates recommended for effective gift shopping was making a “special occasions list” with family members’ and friends’ upcoming birthdays, weddings, life events, clothing sizes and other helpful information to consider when shopping.

She said she keeps her list with her at all times and tries to fulfill as many gift needs as possible during her shopping trips.

“As I’m shopping all year long, I’m filling up this list,” she said. Bates advised designating a closet or shelf for storing gifts before occasions.

No matter what, Bates said she never settles for full-priced items and rarely buys items that aren’t at least 75 percent off the original price.

She also shops for items like clothing and shoes in their off-season to avoid paying more or to give people gifts they want, regardless of when they will be able to use the gift. An example of this would be buying someone beach sandals in the winter.

“Think out-of-season,” she said. “Not everyone needs a winter coat for Christmas.”

When shopping at department stores such as Dillards or Belk, Bates suggested spending only 10 minutes walking through and looking at price tags to determine how good the current discounts are.

She also said most stores place their discounted items in the front or back of the building so that customers must walk through higher-priced merchandise before arriving at the heavily discounted clearance section.

“They want you to have already spent your money before you get to the 75 percent off (items),” Bates said.

Bates is the author of “Bargainomics: Money Management by the Book.”

Bates said she has honed her bargain-finding skills ever since she and her husband married when she was 17 years old, and she began speaking professionally in the 1980s.

“I was determined not to ask my parents for help,” Bates said. “It started out as a necessity, and now it’s a lifestyle.”

During her program, Bates also talked about websites to browse for cheap goods and services (ShopKo.com, Groupon.com, eBay.com, Hotwire.com) and discussed simple ways to save money every day.

Cooking meals at home and freezing foods were two alternatives to eating potentially expensive meals at restaurants.

“Outside of a car payment and house payment, food is our No. 1 expense,” Bates said. “Cooking is important, but that doesn’t mean you have to cook something fancy.”

For more information about Bates’ money-saving strategies, visit Bargainomics.com, Bargainomics.Blogspot.com or her Facebook page, Judy Woodward Bates (Bargainomics).