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The average American has a credit card debt of $15,191, and an average student loan debt of $33,607. Debt repayment is a common goal and new year's resolution today, and every year, scores of people celebrate achieving freedom from their debts. While you are trying to pay off your debt, though, you still need to live. We can sacrifice a few luxuries here and there, but ultimately in a consumer-driven society, you will need to make a purchase or two eventually. Here are some simple strategies to help you buy the things you want without derailing your debt repayment efforts.
Previously Loved Can Mean Big Bargains
Do not be afraid to buy used, especially for such purchases as furniture, sports equipment, and children's clothes. Many people buy a piece of furniture on sale, take it home and decide they do not like the way it looks. Instead of going back to the furniture store, that piece of brand new furniture ends up at the Goodwill or on Craigslist, ripe for the picking. This is one of the best ways to get high-quality furniture at bargain basement prices. Sports equipment is another great item to buy used. Many people buy expensive treadmills and weight sets with good intentions, but never use them. You can easily find used exercise equipment that is in mint condition, often for one-quarter of the original price. Children's clothes are another great deal to buy used. Kids grow so fast that many of the clothes for sale have never even been worn, or worn just a few times. A word of caution when buying from Craigslist: try to meet at a public location, or if that's not possible, bring a burly friend.
Haggle Yourself a Deal
The art of haggling has been lost in America. It used to be that the price tag was a place to start, not necessarily the price you pay. The trick to haggling is to be fair about it. If an item is priced at $300, do not offer $100 - that can be insulting. Try starting at about 2/3 of the price and haggle from there. When you are haggling, it is best to go to an independent retailer rather than a large department store. It is also best to have cash on hand as opposed to credit cards. By never assuming the price listed is the price you pay, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. Many people are unaware that you can haggle with cable and internet companies. People are often lured by a low price, and then stuck paying more after a short period. When that period is over, try calling them up and asking for the lower bargain price - it usually works and it saves a lot of money.
Pay Attention to the Sales
If you are in the market for anything from a new blender to a new jet ski, make sure you start combing the flyers. You can often find sales with prices more than 50% off any item for which you are looking. The key is to have patience. You may have to wait a month or two, but eventually you will see your item come on sale. If you are on a budget, it is absurd to pay full price for anything.
No one likes to have to watch their money, but if you are in a debt situation, then you simply cannot afford not to make budget purchases. There is much money to be saved by buying smart. If you save $200 on a new kitchen set, that money can go toward debt repayment or into your savings. If you start living your life with frugality in mind, you will find you are out of debt in no time, and you can buy whatever you want, whenever you want. However, you probably will not. It is difficult to pay full price when you know how to pay less.