Whether shopping for big-ticket items or everyday groceries, finding a bargain is one of life’s simple pleasures. Oftentimes, your search for a deal leads you to a crossroad between sacrificing quality and saving on the products and services you prefer, but the struggle between quality and savings doesn’t have to plague you. Knowing the difference between inexpensive and cheap lets you shop smarter and get the high quality you deserve at a price that fits your budget.

Timing Is Everything

Getting a blockbuster deal is often a matter of timing. Understanding the schedules for certain savings opportunities puts you in a position to get the items you need at the best prices possible.

Travel is one expenditure where planning ahead can reap savings. Choosing the right time to travel plays an important role in saving money, but you don’t have to forgo vacationing during the best times of the year to snag a cheaper price for flights or hotel accommodations. Even the most desirable destinations and times of the year can be yours for a steal if you know the right time to book your trip.

Getting in early often saves you money. When your schedule doesn’t allow for months of planning, look for last-minute deals on discount travel sites. These sites often fall short of their expected reservations and need to unload unreserved flights and lodgings at discounted prices.

Start a Relationship

Being connected to vendors is one way to keep your finger on the pulse of the market. Sign up for newsletters and other periodic messages from retailers. By establishing a correspondence relationship, you put yourself in position to hear about upcoming savings before the deals are released to the general public. You can sign up for the Simple. Thrifty. Living. newsletter here to keep up to date on the most recent deals.

One way to keep a slew of retailers from flooding your inbox with deals that may not be relevant to you is to select the types of email and other correspondence you’re most interested in receiving. You can often choose to receive only notices of discounts so that you aren’t bombarded with all sorts of news about the companies.

Make the Most of Your Connections

Shoppers with credit cards and other memberships can save big. Check with your credit card companies and other memberships to find out what type of perks you can get through your connection. Often, being affiliated with an organization, like the military, comes with all sorts of discounts and benefits that you can take advantage of — even in seemingly unrelated businesses. That gym membership may come with grocery discounts, and if it has been a while since you signed up, you may have forgotten that such benefits are part of the deal, so check all your connections for associated benefits.