Who out there doesn’t love a bargain? I find that there is nothing more satisfying than getting a really good deal because not only do you end up with that certain something that you have been eyeing but you also walk away with cash to spare in your wallet. Over the years I have become a pretty savvy shopper, there are very few things that I will ever pay full price for simply because there are so many ways to avoid doing so. It goes without saying that some of my favorite deals are generally centered around the kitchen and cooking but I certainly will do my best to find a deal no matter what I am buying from shoes to sheets.
I am often asked how I get such great deals so below I have compiled some of my best tips and tricks for scoring a great deal whether you’re looking for a new appliance, a pair of shoes or even a brand new car! The key is to be willing to put in just a little time and effort before you shop AND to be able to walk away if a deal isn’t good enough. As the consumer, you’re the one in the power position. Companies both big and small want your business and most will do whatever it takes to get the sale. Being a smart shopper can save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars over time. So let’s get saving!
Spend Money, Make Money
If you’re going to be shopping and spending why not make some cash back in the process? I love getting paid to shop whether it’s in the form of rebates, cash back or rewards and it’s so easy to do.
- Reward Credit Cards – If you use credit cards frequently, get a card that rewards you for shopping. Cards like Discover® and VISA® will give you straight cash back for purchases made with their card. You can cash that out or apply it towards any balance you carry. In my opinion, the best cards to have are the ones for specific stores that you frequent because most of them not only offer amazing coupons and discounts but reward certificates as well. They are literally paying YOU to shop at their store! My favorites store cards are Williams-Sonoma Visa®, The Children’s Place, Macy’s, Kohl’s and the best of the best, Amazon. Because I use Amazon for so much of what I buy, I end up making a good amount back every month that I turn around and apply towards my future purchases. The key with using these credit cards is to ensure that you continually pay off your balance as you use them to avoid any finance charges. You certainly don’t want to negate part of any savings you may have gotten by carrying a balance. I use these cards to get the coupons, deals and cash back but I pay them off as soon as they post online so that I don’t pay any interest at all on my purchase. Get the deal, avoid the debt!
- Rebate Sites – When shopping online take advantage of the many rebate sites that are available such as Ebates/Rakuten, Ibotta, Swagbucks and Upromise. They are all FREE, easy to use and offer cash back in addition to any coupons or discount codes they provide. I have earned hundreds and hundreds of dollars through Ebates just by doing my normal online shopping, you really cannot beat that deal!
Coupons, Coupons, Coupons
Gone are the days of spending hours cutting and sorting coupons. In this day and age of electronics, finding and using coupons are easier than ever. Once you have your apps downloaded saving money becomes as easy as 1-2-3!
- Stack Coupons – Coupons are your best friend when shopping as they can earn you both discounts and even FREE product. Stacked coupons are even better. Many stores such as Michael’s, Bath and Body Works, The Children’s Place, and Kohl’s will let you stack coupons to get even more savings. As an example, at Bath and Body Works you not only get a percentage off of your sale but you can also take advantage of their free product coupons at the same time.
- Combine Coupons – Combine your coupons with sales, rewards certificates or rebate money that you might have to lower your out of pocket cost even further as you shop. As an example, I recently shopped at Williams- Sonoma and thanks to a 25% off coupon + free shipping, a $25 rewards certificate I earned from using their store credit card and a $25 gift card that I earned by using my AMEX credit card I was able to purchase a new Cuisinart® bread maker for only $37!!!!! Had I just taken advantage of their sale without the coupon, rewards and gift card my out of pocket cost would have been $109 PLUS shipping cost. That is savings of over $70!
- Coupon Apps – Download rebate, coupon and store apps to increase your savings and to easily keep track of discounts and deals. Plus, you never have to worry about forgetting your coupons at home. Check out money savings apps like Saving Star, Snip Snap, Shop Kick and Card Star.
- Store Savings Cards – This is perhaps the easiest way to save money and it costs you literally nothing. If a store offers a discount card, sign up! When you shop there you will get the best price and the best coupons every time. I know those little savings cards can be a pain to store and carry so my tip, and one that I use myself, is to get yourself a small hole puncher and key ring. Simply punch a hole in the corner of each card, add them to the key ring and toss in your bag. When you need to use them, they will all be in one convenient place!
- Online Discount and Promo Codes – Before clicking “buy” online, always run a quick Google® search to see if there are any applicable promo codes for your purchase. Some of the most reliable sites for promo codes are Retail Me Not, Coupon Cabin, and Brad’s Deals.
Everything is Negotiable
If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Do not be afraid to speak up to negotiate a better deal on something you really want. The worst thing that will happen is someone will tell you no but the best thing that can happen is that you save yourself some moola!
- Do Your Homework – For big ticket items, like a car, do the research before you go shopping. Know what a fair price is for what you’re looking to buy and use that information to negotiate the best price you can. To make the negotiations go more smoothly, bring printouts of your research with you so you can show them in black and white what a fair deal looks like.
- Damage Discounts – When shopping at discount stores such as Home Goods or Marshall’s often times you will come across a great item but it might have a slight imperfection. When you get to the register, point out the issue and ask for a discount to compensate for the imperfection. At the very least, most stores will offer 10% off without a fight. If you feel that the item’s condition warrants a bigger discount, speak up.
- Buying in Bulk – If you’re buying multiples of the same item or even if you’re just making a huge purchase, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or a better deal. Often times stores will throw in a little something extra with your purchase or even give a discount when buying in multiples.
Sales and Clearance
The easiest way to get a great deal is to shop sales and clearance tables. It takes very little effort and can save you a ton of money! Sometimes you can double down on these deals at stores that allow you to use coupons in conjunction with their sale and clearance items. Michael’s is a store that will occasionally allow coupons to be used with their sale and clearance items, keep an eye out for those!
- Holiday Sales – Look for great deals throughout the year such as President’s Week, end of summer and Black Friday. Stores usually offer steep discounts at these times of year so it pays to shop their sales. While Black Friday offers some of the best pricing of the year for holiday shoppers there is no need to brave the crowds, there are just as many amazing deals right online so you can cozy up, grab your cup of coffee and shop from the comfort of home. Another wise time to shop online is Cyber Monday because just like Black Friday, there are tons of deal to be had and they all get delivered right to your front door!
- Future Discount Sales – At certain times throughout the year many stores will offer “store cash” to incentivize you to return at a later date to shop again. These are generally great deals if you know you will have a future need for something. Just be aware that when it’s time to redeem the “store cash” the prices within the store will not be as great since most stores do not run store cash redemption and sales at the same time. That being said, since what you’re buying is essentially “free“, the fact that it’s not on sale matters a little less.
- End of Season Clearance Tables – Many, many times I’ve had my eye on something but really couldn’t justify paying full price or even the sale price for it so I wait until end of season sales. You can get products for up to 90% off in some cases! I especially love the clearance sections at Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table because you can occasionally get lucky and score amazing deals on very expensive, brand name items such as Staub® and Le Creuset®. Always take a look at the clearance sections in stores and as I mentioned above, if something is slightly imperfect or missing pieces don’t be afraid to ask for a deeper discount. With clearance items, stores are looking to unload all of that stock quickly and if giving you a few extra bucks off helps to move product, many will work with you on pricing.
My last bit of advice is to frequent discount stores to find great deals, particularly on brand name items. I have found Staub® enameled cast iron pots for as little as $45 in stores like Home Goods or Tuesday Morning. The boxes looked beat up or it was “last year’s color” however, the pots themselves were in perfect condition. You can also find excellent deals there on seasonal serving pieces, cookware, bakeware and cooking tools. I generally don’t care for buying food at places like these but the exception for me is extracts. Pure vanilla extract and pure vanilla paste has become so expensive in recent years that I always keep an eye out for it in discount stores when I am shopping. Just recently I was at Home Goods and came across bottles of Nielsen–Massey pure vanilla extract for only around $11/bottle. It currently retails in Williams–Sonoma for $30/bottle. That is an incredible savings for the same exact product, why pay more if you don’t have to?
Finding a great deal isn’t that hard when you take advantage of the right resources and know how to shop. I am all about saving money because the less you spend for what you want, the better you will feel better about your purchase. Nobody likes to waste money so why give it away if you don’t have to? What are some of your money saving tips? Feel free to share below!