For all you coupon clippers out there, I am in awe.
I have friends who come dangerously close to MAKING money when they go to the grocery store armed with weekly flyers, stacks of coupons and money-saving store apps.
I just don’t have it in me.
I don’t clip coupons and I don’t enjoy traipsing all over town to compare prices.
But… I LOVE SAVING MONEY.
The holidays are upon us, so as you start your shopping, here are some money-saving ideas:
Just do it. Trust me. It’s free and I have saved thousands of dollars over the past decade through this site. Ebates is one of those rare no brainers. You already have made the decision to buy; you’re simply looking on Ebates to see whether there is money to be saved. Not using Ebates is like not taking advantage of your company’s money-matching 401K plan.
Here is how it works: 1) You sign up at www.ebates.com 2. Use the super simple search function to find your favorite store and click 3. Check to see whether there are any promo codes that might save you money 4. Click to go to your store 5. Ebates automatically keeps track of your purchases and pays you back a percentage – sometimes 1 percent; sometimes, 40 percent. At the end of each quarter, you receive a check in the mail with your cash back.
During big shopping days – Black Friday, Labor Day, Memorial Day and other times throughout the year – retailers will increase or even double their cash back percentages. That’s in addition to any other promo codes they may be offering. Let me reiterate – you often save two ways: Advertised promos/discounts AND you get a percentage back at the end of the quarter.
This program also offers incentives for referring friends. Suspect it’s easy, but I never have used that benefit, so I can’t provide any useful feedback.
When I visit my mom, she always has a list of things she has been waiting to buy because she knows I will find a better deal.
Last summer, her Roomba vacuum had died. The thing is… those wonderful little buggers have gone UP in price since the last time she bought one. So, she put me on the case. I searched online. Bed, Bath and Beyond and Kohl’s had similar sales going on. OK… Still pretty expensive. Both had percentage-off store coupons. Better. Kohl’s allowed stacking an additional $40 off a $150 purchase coupon on top and another for free shipping. Sold. She got her new Roomba for the same price as refurbished.
Another time, GAP was allowing an incredible online stacking opportunity. Everything in the store – even sale and clearance – was eligible for a huge percentage off coupon AND a dollar figure off AND free shipping for spending at least $50. So, I sat down and figured out how to get the best deal. Turns out, I made about seven separate purchases, each one about $50 worth of clearance items. Then, I entered the percentage off coupon first and the dollar figure second. After discounts, each of those ordered totaled about $11 and shipped free. In the end, I ended up spending less than $80 for about $800 worth of clothes for our family. In addition, I received a few dollars cash back from ebates (see above). ☺
Not all stores allow stacking, but it’s worth trying. Google “coupon code,” “promo code,” or “discount code” for the store or item you’re considering. The Krazy Koupon Lady provides the following list of retailers that allow stacking. I can’t vouch for all of them, but this list would be a great place to start: Gap, Old Navy, Sephora, Ulta, Kohl’s, Target, Victoria’s Secret, New Egg, Walgreens, CVS, Crocs, Amazon, Sally’s Beauty Supply, DSW, Walmart, Macy’s, Restaurant.com.
If you’re buying at a brick and mortar store, things are often simpler. You’re typically looking for a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon – one from Prego and another from Safeway, for instance. Use them both, possibly even when the spaghetti sauce is already on sale. Google “printable coupon” or “in-store coupon,” if you don’t already have a coupon in hand.
A few stores will take expired coupons – manufacturers’ or their own. You’ll just have to call or stop in and ask. In my experience, Bed, Bath & Beyond usually takes expired store coupons – those 20 percent off or $5 off coupons that arrive in your mailbox. What’s more, they will sometimes honor as many as you bring. So, if you’re buying 10 items, schlep in a stack of 20 percent off coupons and ask if you can use one for each item.
A family member of mine designs Web pages and she swears by this one. If you’re not in a hurry to buy something, log into your account, shop, then simply leave the item in your cart without buying it. Retailers frequently track what is in customers’ carts and will send you a reminder a couple of days later along with a lower price for said item. Try it. It absolutely works.
They don’t always line up. If the online price is lower, some retailers will honor the discount; others won’t. But you’ll never know unless you ask. If the rank-and-file employee says it’s not allowed, politely ask to speak with a manager, who might have more discretion on discounts.
You buy a bike for your daughter on Tuesday. On Thursday, the price drops by $30. It’s happened to everyone. But you don’t necessarily have to eat that difference. Many retailers will refund you the difference if the price drops within a certain timeframe – 3 days, 7 days, even a month. This is especially helpful for big-ticket purchases like televisions, computers and the like, which would require a re-stocking fee if you returned them. Just ask before you buy so you know what the policy is. This has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years.
If you are an avid reader, listen up! I support established and new authors, but my dear spouse would balk if I spent the majority of our income on books. 😉 So… while I do buy books, I supplement with the library. Mostly, I check out movies, games and hard-copy books for our kids and I check out my own library books electronically on my tablet. It’s very easy and most libraries these days offer electronic versions of their books. Also… I scour Amazon regularly for free electronic books. Here’s an easy way to do it, if you have a Kindle: 1. Amazon 2. Kindle Books 3. Kindle Bestsellers 4. Top 100 Free. You have to wade through some stuff you might not read, but I have found real gems buried in there.
There is a reason why so many people shop on these days – there are some unbeatable deals. I personally choose not to fight the crowds. But I DO sit in the comfort of my living room during the weeks leading up to these days and place things in my online carts. Then, when the big discount shopping days arrive, all I need to do is push the button.
This is one of my favorites! It’s like having your own, personal shopper for FREE! A huge number of retailers will now do your shopping for you, leave the merchandise at customer service with your name or even bring it to your car – sometimes, with a discount – to earn your business. You’ll get a text or email that everything is ready and you just saved precious minutes in your day. This also allows you to go through ebates AND to use online discount codes that might not be available in store. This is a wonderful service, especially for those with small children.
Before you go holiday shopping, consider buying some gift cards for others or even for yourself. Why? Costco and other retailers offer discounted gift cards for lots of cool things. Buy discounted gift cards. Pay $80 for $100 worth of goods, food or services. Bam! You can even use those gift cards to buy gifts for others. And what’s better than spending less for more?
Most folks use Amazon for something these days, so you may as well be getting the most for your money, right? Prime is great if you buy frequently. Countless items are eligible for free, 2-day shipping. Plus, you have access to free movie streaming, Kindle books and more. Amazon Smile (smile.amazon.com) is another great deal – this time, for a cause you support. You simply go to the Web site, sign up and choose a non-profit from the list. Every time you shop, a small percentage goes to that organization. I choose to support our kids’ school, but there are many options from which to choose.
Last year, my old snow boots finally bit the dust. I needed new ones, but was shocked at how expensive quality women’s snow boots were. I was on my way out of the mall, when I slowed down in front of those pricey little shoe stores. The salesman asked if he could help. I hesitated. He beckoned me inside, saying they had a sale on boots. I perused the selection, warming up to the $65 price tag. Then, the clerk asked what shoe size I was. I told him 7. He suggested I take a gander at the girls’ boots, as well – that I should try on a 5 or 6 in children’s. I found a beautiful pair of quality boots for a fraction of the price — $17! He explained that children’s sizes are nearly always much cheaper than adults – even if they are the same item. You’re welcome. ☺