Do your parents love getting a good bargain on something they needed to buy? A bargain can be defined as a purchase made at a price advantageous to the buyer. This usually means a low price, of course. In essence, a bargain is a “good deal.”

Does a bargain mean you bought something on sale? Are all sales bargains? The answer to both questions is “not necessarily.” Something doesn’t have to be on sale to be a bargain. And, as you’ll learn, not all sale items are bargains.

The companies that manufacture products and the retail stores that sell them want to make money. People that need or want these products want to spend as little money as possible. With these competing interests, it’s easy to see why getting a good bargain isn’t always easy.

If your parents take care of most of the shopping in your family, you may have never given much thought to how to be a savvy — that’s a fancy word for “smart” — shopper. Learning how to manage your money wisely, though, is an important lesson for all kids to learn.

Once you start to work to earn money, you’ll realize that work is exactly what it sounds like…hard work! You’ll want to keep as much of your money as you can, while also satisfying all your needs and as many of your wants as possible. The best way to do that is to learn how to be a smart shopper.

Here are a few simple ways you can be a savvy shopper. Use these ideas to help your parents whenever you go shopping with them:

  • Price: If you want to save money, then an item’s price should obviously be a big factor. If there are no other factors to consider or if all other factors are equal, then going with the cheapest item usually makes sense. While price is usually an important factor, there are often other things to consider.
  • Quantity: How much of a product do you need? Smaller quantities are usually cheaper, but our “Try it out!” explains how you can save money by buying larger quantities, since manufacturers often offer better deals on larger quantities (buying “in bulk”). Just realistically evaluate how much of a product you need. If you waste or don’t use part of your purchases, you won’t end up saving any money by buying larger quantities.
  • Quality: In addition to quantity, you should always consider quality. To the extent that quality is a matter of opinion, it might help to think of quality in terms of preference instead. For example, generic products are often just as good as brand-name products, and they’re usually much cheaper. However, if you’ve had a bad experience with a product or really prefer the taste of a particular food product, then it’s probably best to go with what you prefer, even if it’s a bit more expensive.
  • Discounts: When shopping for an item, keep an eye out for discounts, such as coupons, in-store specials, sales and rebates. Don’t assume that sale items are good bargains, though. Do your research and make sure that items “on sale” can’t be purchased cheaper at other stores or online. 


20 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (14 votes, avg. 3.57 out of 5)
  1. This wonder reminded us of the budgeting wonder! When you consider price, quantity, quality, and discounts there’ll be no stopping you! Savvy?

    We know that when things go on sale it’s better to buy then, than buy on an impulse.

    Our Grandmas look for deals all the time… at garage sales!

    • After visiting today’s Wonder and the budgeting Wonder, we think you guys are ready for some super savvy shopping and bargain-hunting now, 5A in Gibbons! Thank you for letting us know all the cool things you have learned about saving and spending your money! :-)

    • Thanks for your comment and for recognizing the still picture for today’s Wonder, Rebecca! We really like getting a good bargain on things we need, don’t you? :-)

  2. Are you guys running out of things to…uh…wonder on? I guess? I’m just saying, because today’s wonder was kinda boring…
    No offense, though! Your site is great for some random stuff that we’ve always wondered about some time in your life! Also, I was WONDERING, why are some driveways SUPER slanted, and some are the tiniest bit slanted?

    • Hi, Raina! We don’t think we’ll EVER run out of things to WONDER about, and we hope you don’t, either! We’re sorry you didn’t like today’s Wonder of the Day® as much as some of our other Wonders. Lots of different people WONDER about lots of different things, so there are Wonders for everyone…even people who like sales and bargains! :-)

      Driveways are usually designed to follow the slope of the piece of land that the houses they lead to are built on. If a house is on top of a hilly piece of land, the driveway has to “slope” up to the house. If a house is built on a really flat piece of land, then the driveway can be much less slanted. Thanks so much for commenting today! :-)

    • Hi, Kate! Thanks so much for stopping by Wonderopolis today and leaving us this comment! We hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We think it’s fun to go shopping, Yo Yo, but we agree that sometimes people can get a little “over excited” about it! Thanks so much for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and for leaving us this great comment! :-)

  3. Wow! I didn’t know how out-of-business sales had so much trickery behind them! :)
    P.S: I was WONDERing about Black Holes and Plasma (lightsabers! 😉 )

    • Hello, Rahul! Thanks for letting us know that you learned something new by exploring this Wonder of the Day®! We think your idea for future Wonders about black holes and plasma is AWESOME! :-)

  4. Thanks for making this article. I’m a bit more store savvy thanks to you! Maybe you could make an article on how to calculate sales tax, it is really confusing.

    • ALRIGHT, we are smiling from ear-to-ear after reading your comment, Wonder Friend Brooke! It’s so awesome that you and your Wonder Classmates have been visiting us! We hope you’ll stop another Wednesday Wonder! See you then! Keep up the great work! :)

  5. So today we are sharing our wonders I’m sharing this one we have special wonderopolis sheets to write: what do we already know, 3 interesting facts, 4 wonder words and a space to say if we recommend it or not !

    • WOW, how cool, Brooke! We think it sounds like a ball of fun in your classroom today! We like the idea of writing down what you know, what you learned and special Wonder words! Thank you for telling us all about your activity today– we’re so glad to hear you’re incorporating Wonderopolis! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • When is a sale a bargain?
  • Are you a savvy shopper?
  • How do you calculate per-unit cost?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Can you put what you learned in today’s Wonder of the Day into practice? Ask a friend or family member to help you explore one or more of the following activities:

  • Get an advertisement from a local store and analyze it with a friend or family member. What products are advertised? Are all of them on sale? Which ones seem to have the biggest discounts? Review the entire advertisement and decide which deal you think is the best bargain. Discuss your opinion with an adult. Do they agree with you? Why or why not? What knowledge might they have based upon their years of shopping experience?
  • Go on a coupon scavenger hunt! Ask an adult to put together a shopping list of things they’ll need to purchase in the near future. Using whatever sources you can find for discounts or coupons (these could include inserts from your local newspaper or Internet coupon websites), try to find discounts or coupons for as many of the items as you can. How much money do you think you can save? Ask to go along on the shopping trip to see the benefits of your work firsthand!
  • Up for a challenge? Let’s see how savvy a shopper you really are! Grab a family member and head to the store for a quick shopping trip. Be sure to make a list before you leave, so you can narrow your shopping focus to just those items you really need right now. You might also want to check online or in local newspapers for coupons and store advertisements. Although most stores feature in-store specials, many stores also advertise weekly sales to encourage people to shop for bargains. Once you get to the store, it’s time to start making the tough decisions. Take the factors you’ve learned about — price, quantity, quality, and discounts. Then evaluate your options. You’ll notice that, for most items, there are many different options to choose from. Once you’ve narrowed down the possibilities, it still may be hard to choose. One last factor can often help you make a wise final decision: per-unit cost. Per-unit cost is how much an item costs per unit of measurement. For example, let’s say you’re shopping for plastic forks. Brand A costs $1.00 for 100 forks. Brand B is cheaper: you get 75 forks for $0.85. Which is the better deal? Brand A or Brand B? Calculating the per-unit cost will tell you. The per-unit price of Brand A is 1¢ ($0.01) per fork ($1.00 divided by 100 forks). The per-unit cost of Brand B is 1.13¢ ($0.0113) per fork ($0.85 divided by 75 forks). Even though Brand B is 15¢ cheaper than Brand A, the price you pay per fork is actually greater. If you will use the extra forks provided by Brand A, then it’s a better deal, because you end up paying less per fork than with Brand B. So, if you’re trying to choose between several products that seem fairly equal, always check the per-unit price to help you make your decision. We hope you can help your family save money by becoming smarter shoppers!

Still Wondering

Use Illuminations’ Parking at the Mall lesson to develop number sense in and around the shopping mall.


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