If I suggested that you save money by not spending at all, no one would pay attention to me, so I’m going to share some ideas on how to save money when shopping. Budget shoppers, put your hands in the air!
When I shop for anything other than necessities, it’s because I have a discount coupon or code of some sort. For the last few years, I’ve very rarely purchased something at full price, because I preferred to wait and save money. Now that I’ve had a little bit of time to experiment with my savings strategy, I want to share with you some of those tips to save money when shopping for things like cosmetics, clothes, airfare, and even groceries.
Timing and Mailing Lists
If you have patience, you can time your purchases to sale events at your favorite stores. Macy’s has crazy sales all the time, and if you’re daring, going in store can add up to even more savings. Also, many stores have semi-annual sales and friends and family events that they open up to their mailing list, so get on those lists to be notified when sales are happening. Like you, I don’t like having my inbox full of useless junk mail, so I’ve developed a system where I immediately delete emails that are not of use to me. When I receive email offers, I browse through them, and if I’m not interested, I delete it. This keeps my inbox clear, and I can more easily see items that I am going to use.
Ideally, you like to plan your purchases in advance. If you don’t, it’s probably a good idea to start the habit, because it will save you a ton of money in the long run. Keeping track of market price fluctuations isn’t as hard as it sounds; you just need to consider when is it most likely that people will want to purchase something. For instance, people normally buy groceries during the weekend and holidays, because they have time. Stores have prepared for this by offering coupons for those days, thus drawing in more customers and essentially, more savings for you. However, flights purchased for the weekend will usually cost more than flights on weekdays. Why? People are working during the weekdays, and airline companies want to draw in more customers by lowering prices during normal work days. Think about timing, and watch prices to identify patterns and maximize your savings.
Lately, I’ve preferred to do a bunch of my shopping online. Honestly, I can’t stand the crowds at some stores, and the walking around isn’t always so appealing. Enter my favorite shopping apps! When I see my favorite shops participating in savings programs for these apps, I get really excited, because that means more savings for me. Yay! Keep in mind that stores have a strategy that looks at your search history and prices according to that. This means that if you’ve searched for “Nina Prom Shoes” a few times, your browser is going to remember this and stores that have access to that data will possibly price the item a little higher for you as opposed to the dude next door who hasn’t searched for those shoes. So clear your cache and search history before shopping, or you can use the incognito/private browsing mode to shop.
Oh, Ebates, I love you. Every day, I check Ebates to see what kind of discounts stores are offering, and my favorites are when Ulta and Macy’s are offering double cash back percentages – winning! When something is free to use and so very easy, I tend to use it more than anything else. To date, I’ve received almost $300.00 cash back from my Ebates purchases on top of discount savings. How can you say no to this?
Last summer, I took a trip with my friends to Las Vegas, and we got a really good deal through Booking.com on our hotel room. For a 2 night stay, we spent around $700 in a 5 star hotel suite. Sounds expensive? It was 4th of July weekend, and we booked really late. Still we saved $200! Because we also tipped our lovely guest service dude, we received an upgraded room for free. Thank you, dude. If you time your purchase right, you can save 40% or more on your hotel arrangements.
With the pro version gone, I’ve gone back to using the regular app, and there’s not much difference. For my flights, I use Kayak to monitor when prices are going to be lowest (and highest). I’ve saved a ton of money by just watching the prices on Kayak as well as comparing those prices to other sites like Google Flights and commercial airline sites. You have to compare prices with other sources. Do not make a large purchase without getting a “second opinion”.
For me, I prefer to fly United, because I like them and receive mileage savings from them. If you commit to an airline company, you can build up enough mileage for free travel and other free goodies. Do this! I received free upgrades to economy plus seating for 6 months, because they wanted me to try it out. Best thing ever. Whenever I needed to fly, I would watch Kayak prices religiously and match them to Google Flights, Expedia, Travelocity, and United, and I would only put money down when I was sure the pricing was at its best. It takes patience and research, but it’s worth it. You save hundreds!
Replacing coupons, Checkout 51 lets you take pictures of your receipt and redeem savings from your purchase. While savings from this app varies by location, store, and items, it is still something to consider. Confession, I hate coupons, because I think they’re clutter. Therefore, this app really cuts down on the paper waste that I accumulate, which is really very nice.
How to use: You check the live offers on the app and see if any of those appeal to you. Go shopping, and then take pictures of your receipt through the app. After taking the picture, you go through and check which of the items you purchased are on that receipt, and after it’s processed, you’re credited with a cash back amount. After making $20.00, you can cash out your account.
With practice, finding savings on everyday purchases becomes a habit, and when you realize how much you can save, you won’t want to shop any other way – unless you can save more!
After the holiday season, a ton of stores are clearing their shelves and placing items on sale. Have you seen any good deals lately? What is your favorite way to save money when shopping?
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