Bargain Hunter of the Month: Jennifer Shirey

In this monthly feature, metro-area residents are highlighted for their savvy bargain hunting skills. Think you or someone you know has what it takes to be a bargain hunter of the month? Contact me today!

IMG_1626Jennifer Shirey, 29, Sandy Springs

This mom of two toddlers is a money saving multi-tasker. She was a Black Friday dynamo even while unpacking a new home and creating her handmade hair bows, tutus and tulle wreaths.  Here’s how she puts her saving skills to work.

Q: Who is in your household?

A: My husband and two children, ages two and one.

Q: How long have you been a Black Friday shopper?

A: I have done a little bit of Black Friday shopping in years before. This was the first year I went to multiple stores.

Q: What was your Black Friday goal?

A: We moved right before Black Friday. I was busy packing the house, but around the middle to end of October I was starting to look to see what was coming out. I knew we weren’t getting any big ticket items.

The main thing was thinking, “What do we really need?”  I could have gotten suckered in because there were so many good deals on bath towels. So I had to stop myself. As we were packing, I realized we had so many towels!

Q: What was your strategy and how did you plan your attack?

A: When I got my paper on Thursday morning, I looked to see which stores I wanted to go to and I was making my list. You see the ads online, but I like to have the physical ad. While the kids were playing, I looked at all the ads and made a list and wrote down what time each store opened. Then I created a geographic plan saying, “Okay, this is where we are starting.”

Q: I kept track of your progress on Black Friday [via Twitter]. It seemed like you were everywhere! How did things go that night?

A: For Walmart and Target, we were in and out in under thirty minutes at both stores. The next big store was Kohl’s. We didn’t have anything better to do, so we waited in line until they opened [at midnight]. Then we came home because the next store was JC Penney — we went to bed and got up the next morning.

We had the couple of things we wanted and if we didn’t get them, it was no big deal. It was fun and exciting. We weren’t stressing out about it. The kids were with their grandparents, so it was grown up time.

Q: What is your best holiday shopping strategy?

My kids birthdays are right after Christmas. As far as toys go, Target runs a toy clearance every January and July. I stalk them for months until they put up those signs for 70 percent off.

As far as clothing, I shop the clearance racks all year round. For the kids, I have a storage bin that I keep with the next size up. I look at the 50 and 70 percent off racks and try to guess what size they will be next year. If I’m wrong, I hang on to it or sell it to one of the kids consignment shops. I do the same thing for their shoes.

I also do Swagbucks [an online rewards program] and I get free Amazon gift cards for that.

Q: What advice would you give beginning bargain hunters?

A: For holiday shopping, shop year round and look at the clearance racks.

For someone just starting to coupon, start small. Instead of following all three major drugstores, pick one and follow that store and know the policies. If you try to jump into all of them, you will get overwhelmed.

Also choose one or two websites to follow — I follow SouthernSavers and I heart Publix for grocery shopping. They always have the ads up one or two days before with links to coupons.

And don’t expect your first time out that you are going to do it like the people on TV!

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– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

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