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Advice For The New (Frugal) Year!

Written By Amanda on Monday, December 31, 2012 | 2:16 PM

Who doesn't love to save money? If I had one thing I could share with everyone I know, it's that you should NEVER pay retail for ANYTHING! Here are some tips and tricks that I use and live by!


Not only in Sunday newspaper anymore, printable coupons can be found all over the Internet. Do a web search or check the websites of your favorite brands. Companies often have a facebook page with coupons for their products as well. Some of my favorite printable coupon websites are: coupons.com, Smartsource.com, and Redplum.com.

Online codes

You should never buy anything online without first checking for what’s called a coupon code or promo code. These codes are the online version of a coupon. Instead of handing your coupon to the cashier, you enter the code at the online checkout. Do a Web search for a product name plus the words “coupon code” or “promo code.” The best sites I have found are Retailmenot.com, Currentcodes.com and Naughtycodes.com.

Sales and Clearance

Sales are still one of the best ways to save. I recommend regularly reading your local Sunday newspaper ads, which you can also find online for free. Another option is find out the dates of your favorite stores clearance markdowns. After Holiday clearance sales are a great way to stockpile items super cheap for the next year. 

Mail-in rebates

These aren’t as common as they used to be, but when I do see them, they’re usually significant savings – if you can remember to mail them back before the deadline. I make it a habit to mail it in the second I get home and bring the item in from my car to be put away.The other risk with mail-in rebates is that they can get lost in the mail, although I've never had a problem with that.

Free stuff

Sometimes it can be hard to find legit freebies since a lot of them do ask for personal information. If you can find an online freebies site you trust, this is a great way to try new products with no strings attached. I've scored free full size hair products, makeup, coupons for free food products. Also all the little trail size products are great for traveling, gift baskets, or can make a nice gesture for when you have guest over.

Daily Deal Sites

Amazon.com is known for its steeply discounted Deal of the Day, but the trend is spreading. Lots of online stores – from Target and Walmart to Home Depot and Hotels.com – offer up one item each day at a bigger-than-usual discount, sometimes with free shipping thrown in. Some of my favorite daily deal sites are Saveology.com, Groupon.com, Livingsocial.com, and 1saleaday.com. These sites offer one great deal a day for local hotspots on great food, entertainment and nightlife. They've even started to partner with nationwide retailers such as Gap and The Body Shop.

Co Ops

Co-op's are group buy opportunities.  An organizer will collect orders for a group of people for a product or product line and those participating will receive a discount on retail prices.  Sometimes it's 10-15%, sometimes it's the wholesale cost of the products.  The organizer usually collects the funds, pays for the order, gets the order shipped to them and then sends each person their products. Do an online search to find co ops in the area that interest you. (examples: food, cloth diapers, makeup, toys)

Cash-back websites

Online cash-back services like Ebates and Big Crumbs are a great way to shave at least a few percentage points off the price of just about any online purchase. Plus, the cash-back can often be combined with online sales and codes to maximize your savings.

Cash-back credit cards or Points

If you pay off your credit card each month, a cash-back card can ensure you’ll pay less or save up those points for purchases you are already making to earn yourself gift cards and other cool prizes.

Amazon-like retailers

Who doesn’t love Amazon.com? They sell seemingly everything imaginable – and not only is pretty much everything sold for less than full retail, many of their prices are unbeatable. Buy.com and Overstock.com also have some great deals to be had.

Wholesale clubs

Shopping at warehouses like Costco is perhaps the best way to save money on groceries. Other potential warehouse deals include everything from furniture and electronics to clothing and fine jewelry. Although, it can be argued that it's better to forget warehouse memberships and look online for deals on everyday products. Many people don’t know that they can order deodorant, shaving cream, dish soap or even paper towels, along with almost any other household item online, without ever setting foot in a brick and mortar store.  They are virtual warehouses offering goods at near wholesale prices, without the membership fees or wasted hours (and gas) driving to an outlet mall and standing in line on a busy Saturday afternoon.The secret to buying everyday items online is to shop in bulk. 

Outlet stores

Consumer Reports says you can save an average of 38 percent at outlet stores, but it’s not always a deal. Some outlets stock lesser-quality versions of what their non-outlet stores sell. Just do your research-  Pull out your phone and look up the product reviews right in the store if you have to!

Dollar stores

Not everything at the dollar store is a bargain either. Before you buy something, you have to stop and think about whether you could find it for less money elsewhere. Still, it’s a great place to find everything from gift wrap to cleaning supplies at well below retail. 

Yard sales and Garage sales

Yard sales and garage sales can be a great place to find all kinds of things for a fraction of their retail price – if you know what you’re doing. This is another time I would suggest to look up the full retail value of the new item, or see how much the used item is going for on places like Ebay.com and craigslist.com before you make your purchase.

Haggling/Slightly imperfect merchandise

You have nothing to lose by asking for a lower price. It’s “the easiest way to save money.” There is more flexibility to haggle on products that have been on display and show some wear, such as shoes or sports equipment. A garment displayed on a mannequin or an item in a store window might come with a discount if it's missing original labels or packaging. Electronics sold "out of the box" are also a source of great bargains, and usually have little more wear than a few fingerprints. Though they are generally missing instructions, these can often be easily downloaded online.

Secondhand stores

Thrift stores are another great place to find items like housewares, toys, and clothing for a fraction of their retail price. They can be hit-or-miss, however, so instead of making a trip just to go thrifting, plot nearby stores on a map and stop by when you’re in the area. And remember that upscale finds are more common in stores in upscale neighborhoods.

Money Saving Apps

ShopKick is a free app that rewards you with "kicks" for visiting major retailers like Best Buy, Old Navy and Target. It also rewards you for scanning the barcodes of featured products. Kicks can be redeemed for gift cards, restaurant vouchers, movie tickets and more. If you walk into a store that's running an exclusive offer for ShopKick users, the app will alert you to that, too. Endorse and Ibotta are to new apps that I personally use, where you upload a picture of your receipt and then receive points or money back for purchasing specific products for the week. Basically it's like a mail in rebate, but now all done through your phone!

Compare prices and Price match

Shoppers also have the added advantage of comparison shopping on the Internet; it only takes seconds to see if someone else is offering a better price on a particular item. Having this kind of buying power enables you to save tons of money over the course of a year.
Comparison shopping equals bargaining power and retailers are always competing with one another for your business. Instead of price wars driving the cost of goods up, online price wars end up driving prices down as low as they can possibly go. A lot of grocery stores will even price match their local competitors prices in that weeks ad.

Sorry for such a long read, but this post is packed with money saving techniques that are bound to save you money in 2013. I encourage you to share with your friends and family so they can too! Happy Shopping and Happy New Year! 


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