Every family has a Latina mom, or tía, or abuela who is horrified to find out you paid full price for that dress. Or that phone. Or groceries for the week. If I had a dollar for every time my tía told me “why did you pay that much? You should have come to me first! I know where to get that on sale!” I wouldn’t be Jeff Bezos rich, but I’d have a pretty big pile of cash. Many of us probably grew up watching our moms immediately check the price before putting anything in the cart and only ever buying generic brands. At the time it probably was a disappointment because it may not have been what “the cool kids” enjoyed, but now that we’re adults with own money, we’ve come to appreciate mami’s frugal ways. So in honor of financial awareness day (August 14), let’s dive into the shopping lessons that our mami and abuelas have taught us all in the name of saving dinero.
Thrifting for Clothes
They may not call it thrifting, but buying things secondhand or from discount stores is storied Latina shopping strategy.I know in my family, it’s like buying new is almost…embarrassing. Like, you couldn’t find that on sale or secondhand and you *had* to buy new? Pobrecita. She doesn’t know the hot spots like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Now there are also several Latina-owned secondhand shops to check out like LA Retro Girl and Fresa Thrift.
According to a study done by online retailer Depop, thrifters save about 25 percent by buying thrifted instead of new on EVERY item. That’s big money when you’re outfitting yourself, let alone if you have a partner, kids, or other family that you’re buying clothing for.
Buying generic brands
Name brand? Por qué? When the generic is just as good and cheaper?! On average, generic brands save you 40 percent in comparison to name brand groceries. You don’t even have to buy exclusively generic to save money. Swapping out just a few items, like your name brand cereal, protein powder, and pasta is enough to see savings over the course of a few months. We didn’t grow up eating name brand Kellogg’s cornflakes/confleis (we got the bagged cereal) or Oreos (creme-stuffed cookies for us!) but we learned the value of saving that money. Today you can use some of that money and redirect into saving for a house, or investing in the stock market.
Combine a coupon with a generic brand and it’s like you’re getting the items for FREE. Most stores now have apps where they offer exclusive discounts and coupons and all you have to do is sign up for free. And while it can be annoying to have so many apps on your phone, it’s very worth it to have apps for the grocery store you shop at every week, or the clothing store you get a majority of your clothes from. Most grocery stores now have apps that you can sign up for (same as having the grocery rewards cards) and clip digital coupons straight to your account so all you have to do is give them your number. You can also pick up coupons in paper fliers at the front of grocery stores, and check which items they have on sale that week for max savings.
In our families, it’s common to use hand-me-downs and not just between siblings, we share with our cousins and even neighbors. But that doesn’t have to stop with adulthood. One of my tíos gets all his winter jackets from a local Facebook group he’s in. People buy the wrong sizes, or their husbands or kids don’t like the style, and my tío is right there to swoop in. Now he’s is walking around in Patagonia gear, which is pretty pricey, for free. You can join a local Buy Nothing group on their app, or by looking up your zip code on Facebook. There may also be “Buy, Sell, or Swap” groups in your city on Facebook where you can trade items or get something for a significant discount.
Taking advantage of deals/cashback
Mami loves a good deal so if there was a sale happening or she had a coupon or cashback deal. Saving money is always the goal when shopping, according to mami. Now there are many online tools that will give you cashback on your online shopping and even in-store sometimes. Of course, don’t let a cashback program encourage your to OVERSPEND- that’s something we want to avoid. Sites you can use to get paid to do your online shopping include Rakuten, BeFrugal, SwagBucks, and Freebird.
Buying in bulk
Did mami ever show up with three pairs of the same black pants or a collection of white tees cause they were all on sale? While it might seem counterintuitive to buy more to save money, in certain areas it is the smarter decision. If you find a top that you love, looks good on you and is work appropriate, buy it in two colors. Now you know you have multiple tops you feel confident in and you don’t have to do as much laundry.The same idea applies to food, cleaning supplies and household goods. Basically, it’s buying in bulk for the things that you are confident you will use, wear, or eat. Shopping in bulk tends to be best for bigger families, or people with strict workplace uniforms. Of course you don’t want to spend money on things you won’t actually use or that will rot before you can consume them, so keep purpose front of mind when you’re shopping!