If your family is anything like mine, then you spend more time at Home Depot and Lowe’s than you do at most other places each week. Whether it’s supplies for projects we are working on, or basics like light bulbs or air filters, I swear we are there just about every day. If we go out of town, we have to let the associates at Home Depot know so that they don’t send out a search party for a missing family.
Okay, not really. But some of the associates know us pretty well.
At any rate, with that many trips to the store, we spend a LOT of money there. I’ve started to get more savvy about the way I shop at the big box home improvement stores, so I thought I’d pass along some of my tips to you.
1. Buy in Bulk – Have you noticed that Home Depot and Lowe’s offer “contractor packs”? When you buy certain products in bulk (those products are marked on the shelf label), you’ll save on the per item price. You can save on anything from baseboard trim to caulk to light bulbs. It’s sort of like the Costco or Sam’s model of buying stuff you know you’ll use.
There are some items that I use a lot and always buy in bulk. One is plastic tarps for painting – I use them for wall coverings for my DIY spray tent (instructions for a larger version is coming soon!). Another is painters tape – when I buy a package of 6, I essentially get a free roll. Air filters for our HVAC system is another product that we have started buying in bulk.
But, be careful. If you know that you don’t foresee needing 5 pounds of #8 1 x 5/8 sheet metal screws, then maybe it would be better to just buy a few of the little small quantity bags of screws.
2. Make a Detailed Shopping List – You always make a shopping list when you go to the grocery store, but do you make one when you go to the home improvement store? Here’s the important thing to know: Make a list of EXACTLY what you will need. Measure sizes and lengths of screws required for a project. Check your spray paint shelf to make sure you don’t already have 4 cans of white paint hidden behind other cans. Know the exact dimensions of lumber that you will need.
Do I always do this? Well, if the number of unopened bags of wrong-size screws or multiple cans of primer are any example, then no. But, I am getting better at thinking ahead before I even leave the house. I keep my list on the Evernote app on my phone so I always have it with me. My lists are also helping me to quit making multiple trips in the same day.
3. Always Buy Paint Sample Jars – It has taken me many years to get to the point where I can see a paint chip and imagine the exact shade on my walls. It’s a gift that comes from inhaling way too many paint fumes.
But if you still have all your brain cells, go ahead and always get a sample of the paint you want mixed in a $3 sample jar before you buy the $11 quart or $20 gallon of paint. You may feel like you don’t have time to paint a sample on the walls (I hear that a lot), but it takes 30 minutes and could end up saving you tons of money if you hate the color (like I did in our first ever kitchen).
You can have any color mixed at the home improvement store, as they have the formulas for every major paint brand stored in their computers. Did you know that?
4. Compare Prices Online – I guess this should go without saying, but always check prices for comparable items online. You will be amazed at the differences that you can find.
Take HDMI cables, for example. You definitely need one of those to hook up your HDTV to a satellite or cable box. Grab one at a home improvement store and you’ll pay a pretty penny for it. Order one online and you’ll probably save at least half of your cash. And with Amazon Prime (of which I am a HUGE fan), you get it in two days with free shipping. Can’t beat that!
5. Take Advantage of “Ship to Store” and “Free Shipping” Options – Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have an incredible selection in their stores, but they have an even better selection online of items like light fixtures and ceiling fans. When checking out online, most items have a free “ship to store” option that allows you to order your item and have it shipped to your local store. The store will let you know when the item has arrived, and the shipping time frame is usually about the same as it would be if your item was shipped to your house.
As of now, Home Depot offers free shipping to your home if your order totals $45 or more. Lowe’s offers the same for $49 or more. So, if your order total is more than those amounts, save yourself a trip to the store and have it shipped directly to your house.
Those are five of my most used tips for saving money in a home improvement store. I hope some of them were new to you! Do you have any other money saving tips to pass along?