I’m a big believer in never paying retail unless you have to, and thankfully, you can almost always save money when you shop – both online and offline. And today, I’m going to show you can save hundreds, or possibly even thousands of dollars every year without being an extreme coupon clipper!
Save Money on Every Purchase
The following tips are easy to do, don’t take much time, and never cost you anything:
Coupons = easy savings. Yes, I just told you that you don’t need to be an extreme coupon clipper to save money, and you don’t. But it doesn’t hurt to check there first, since coupons can be a quick and easy way to save money if you were already planning a purchase. The easiest place to find coupons without spending a lot of time is in the Sunday paper, and the weekly circular you probably find in your mailbox each week.
Unfortunately, there aren’t always coupons for your favorite purchases. That’s when I recommend the following methods for saving money: Ebates, FatWallet, and cash back cards. Let’s take a look at each of these in more depth:
Ebates – save money when you shop online
Ebates is an online shopping portal that gives users cash back to shop through their site. How does it work? It’s simple: All you need to do is sign up for an account, then do your shopping through their website. To make it easy, Ebates has partnered with over 1,200 retailers, and they often feature specific coupons and savings you won’t find anywhere else. Once you locate the store in their website, just click on the link and you will be sent to the store. Then you just shop as you normally would. Once you make a purchase, you will receive a portion of the sale as cash back in your Ebates account – there are no points to count, no hoops to jump through, etc. Once you reach a certain level, they send you a check. It’s quick, easy, and free to sign up for an Ebates account, and for a limited time you can get a bonus gift card of up to $10 once you make your first purchase of over $25.
Does it work? You bet! I’ve been using Ebates for about 4 years now and have received over $500 cash back in that time – all from purchases I was planning on making anyway.
Ebates is only good for online shopping, but that’s OK. We’ve got another way you can save when you shop at brick and mortar stores – gift cards. How can you save money by using gift cards? It’s actually quite easy – buy them at less than face value!
FatWallet – More Cash Rebates for Online Shopping
FatWallet is very similar to Ebates, but they often have slightly different cash back offers. FatWallet does have a very active forums where users post new deals and offers on a regular basis. One differnece with FatWallet is you can cash out your rebates more frequently than you can with Ebates, which sends them out automatically every few months. My recommendation is to open an account with both of them and comparison shop. After using them both a few times, you will get a good feel for which site is better for your regular needs. You can sign up here.
Buy and sell gift cards
Another way to save money is to buy gift cards on the secondary market. There are a few sites out there that offer discount gift cards at a savings of anywhere from 1% off face value, to over 50% off, usually depending on the popularoty of the store. For example, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Costco gift cards aren’t usually available for large discounts. But you would be surprised at which stores you can find gift cards at 10-30% off the normal face value of the gift cards. For example, the last time I had a big home improvement project I bought a gift card to Lowe’s at a 10% discount. Add that savings on top of a military discount, and you can save a lot of money!
The inventory for gift cards on the secondary market changes frequently, since they can only sell gift cards to the stores they have in stock. The best time to shop is right after the Christmas season or after major holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But there are almost always great cards year round.
Save money on every purchase with a cash rewards debit or credit card
If you want to take this a step further, you can also get cash back virtually every time you make a purchase by using a cash rewards debit card or credit card. The good news is, you can even stack your discounts when you use a cash rewards card. For example, you can shop online using Ebates to get a percentage cash back from Ebates, and get a percentage cash back for shopping with your rewards card! Most of these rewards are in the 1-2% range, but some of the best cash rewards credit cards offer cash back in the 5% range for select categories.
Here are some recommendations for saving money with cash rewards debit and cash back credit cards.
Do you have more tips for saving money on every purchase?