Maybe I was born with an over-developed bargain hunting gene, or perhaps my aversion to paying full price was cultivated through years of living on a low income in a high cost of living area. Either way, the big ticket items bought at a fraction of their regular price, like my wedding dress purchased new-with-tags on eBay for 1/10th of its original price, may have the most frugal cred, but it’s the day-to-day savings that allowed me to save a quarter of my family’s income last year.
The best tip that I have for saving in the day-to-day is easy: the Internet. My first step to any purchase, large or small, in store or online, is always on the internet to find the best deal. Without it, I couldn’t have had a $100 holiday last year (and I’m doing it again this year!) and I wouldn’t be able to live comfortably within my means while meeting my financial goals now.
photo © James Vaughan (via: Wylio)
Pantry looking a little bare? I check out a coupon and sale match-up site to see what the bargains are this week and save the time it would take to match deals myself. My favorite is thefrugalfind.com because it features stores local to me (Northern California), but there are tons of them on the web. A good place to start if you live in other parts of the country is weusecoupons.com for store-specific weekly round-ups.
Do I need to get gas today? First stop, gaspricewatch.com to see which station near me has the lowest price of the day.
How about dinner out with the family? Restaurant.com routinely has 80% off sales on their gift certificates, so I buy certificates and leave them in my queue until we’re ready to go out.
Baby needs diapers? I don’t run to the store to pick up a pack without consulting babycheapskate.com, which outlines the week’s best diaper (and formula) deals at all of the major drugstore chains, grocery stores, and online, and pairs them with current coupons for the best per-diaper price.
Time for textbooks for my college classes? Using these 10 tips to save on textbooks I bought three textbooks that retailed for over $350 at the campus bookstore for under $60 online (and paid with Swagbucks – free money for searching the web!)
Need a few new clothes? I’ll buy a gift card at less than face value, searching through giftcardgranny.com to find the best discount. Then I’ll wait for a clearance sale and stock up, preferably with a coupon code for a percentage off or free shipping or both, and first logging in through a rebate site like Ebates. It’s typical for me to save at least 75% off the original price, and not unusual to see 85-90% savings with these methods. My daughter’s full fall and winter wardrobe for next year cost under $100 at Gymboree and I’ll likely be able to sell the lot for at least that amount when she outgrows it.
I watch deal of the day sites like Groupon, Living Social, and others to see if there are deals that will stretch my dollars even further. Groupon recently had a deal for a dental exam, X-ray, and cleaning for $49 at a dentist that gets good reviews on Yelp! The price is well below that of even the local dental school; I stocked up for the year for my husband and myself both. Don’t forget to use Ebates to get to Groupon for cashback on your purchases!
A quick Google search can often produce printable coupons, coupon codes for online purchases, sales, and other bloggers who’ve found out how to get what you’re looking for at the best price, and logging in through rebate sites give you cash back for the few seconds of clicking before shopping online. Don’t walk into the store (in the real or virtual world) without doing your homework and you’ll never pay full price, either.