Who doesn’t love a good bargain?
The internet has made it easier than ever to shave 10%, 20% or even 50% — or more — off the price of many goods. There’s really no reason to pay full price for much of anything.
To help you put an end to paying retail prices, we’ve compiled the following tips.
1. Ask for a lower price
No, really: You may get a deal simply by asking if a better price is available. Store employees can alert you to promotions.
If you’re shopping online, use the chat feature on many retailers’ websites to ask about discounts. I once used this technique to save an additional $42 off a laptop that was already $350 off.
2. Compare prices and check for price matches
Even if you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, use your phone to confirm you’re getting the lowest price. This is a two-step process for savvy shoppers, though:
- Check whether other retailers have a better price. This is traditional comparison shopping.
- Check whether the store you are in has a price-match policy. Some stores match their online prices, which tend to be lower, as I illustrated in “Knowing This Price-Match Policy Saved Me $16 in 30 Seconds.” Some stores even will match or beat Amazon’s prices.
3. Use cash-back portals
Cash-back websites basically pay you to shop.
Rakuten is a well-known example of one such site. Once you sign up for an account there, which is free, you can earn cash back for shopping at more than 2,500 merchants like retailers.
To learn more about exaclty how Rakuten works, check out “If You’re Not Getting Cash Back Online, Use This Trick” — in which we break it down step by step using a real-life example.
4. Pay with cash-back credit cards
If you pay off your bill in full each month so as to avoid paying interest or fees, it pays to use a rewards credit card.
Looking for new plastic? The Money Talks News Solutions Center allows you to sort credit cards based on whether they offer cash back, frequent flier miles or other rewards.
5. Check store ads
You don’t need a local newspaper to check store ads for the latest discounts before shopping. All sorts of stores post their weekly ad or other current sales on their websites, from department stores and supermarkets to home improvement stores and beauty supply stores. Even warehouse clubs.
I never go to Costco, or let my husband go, without checking out what’s on sale there. As we explain in “11 Ways to Save Even More Money at Costco“:
“Costco offers periodic discounts — on top of its already low prices. The retailer refers to them as ‘warehouse savings,’ but they are essentially sales. Costco offers a new batch of warehouse savings roughly once a month. So, always check out the retailer’s Warehouse Savings webpage before driving to your local club or buying anything online.”
6. Buy secondhand
Whether you call them thrift stores or consignment shops, the internet can help you find places selling secondhand items.
Check TheThriftShopper.com, which you can search by ZIP code. Or try the online store locators of national organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and national chains like Play It Again Sports and Plato’s Closet.
For yard sales, try a directory like Garage Sale Finder or Garage Sales Tracker.
There are also lots of online-only secondhand marketplaces, from Swap.com (secondhand clothing) to Raise (secondhand gift cards).
7. Check for coupons and promo codes
You don’t need scissors for this. You can find manufacturer coupons galore, both printable and digital ones, online — see “7 Places to Find Free Manufacturer Coupons Online.”
And then there are coupon codes, the online equivalent of a coupon. Do a quick web search for them before buying something online — search for the retailer’s name and the word “coupon code.” Or, you can let a free tool like Honey, a browser extension, automatically scour the web for coupon codes for you.
8. Stock up
When I find a steal — such as when my face wash is on sale at Ulta and I also have a coupon for an extra 20% off my whole purchase, doubling my discount — I stock up.
I do this for everything from personal care items to vitamins, buying enough to last anywhere from a few months to a year.
When I’m sure the price is a true bargain and the product won’t expire before I can use it all, this is one of my favorite ways to save money because it also saves time.
9. Buy in or out of season
Items like clothing, outdoor furniture or accessories and gardening supplies are generally cheaper out of season. For example, you probably will get a better deal on sandals or outdoor grills in the fall or winter.
Items like produce are often cheaper when in season. Two resources:
- The Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture offers seasonality charts for fruits and nuts and for vegetables that categorize the availability of fresh foods by the month.
- The Seasonal Food Guide enables you to select your state first so you can see what’s in season in your part of the country.
10. Get on email lists
Pretty much every retailer offers an email list if not also a text-message list these days. Subscribe to those of your favorite and most frequented retailers and you’ll automatically be notified of their sales, deals and other discounts.
Some retailers even send their subscribers exclusive promotions, meaning offers that they don’t advertise on their website.
To avoid an overload of retail email, create a filter. I use ProtonMail’s filters, for example, to direct all retailer emails to automatically bypass my inbox and go into one folder called “Retail” that I check periodically.
11. Check out discount retailers
You can find deals daily, even on brand names, at off-price chain stores. Examples include:
And then there are discount stores, dollar stores and wholesale clubs.
12. Keep the receipt
What if the price drops on something you recently purchased or you find a better price elsewhere shortly after making the purchase? If you bought the item from a store that would refund you for the difference — or if your credit card offers that perk — you likely will need your receipt to prove how much you paid and when you made the purchase.
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