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:
Let’s take a look at each of these in more depth:
Rakuten (Formerly Ebates) – Save Money When You Shop Online
Rakuten is an online shopping portal that gives users cashback 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 on 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 cashback 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 a Rakuten 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 10 years now and have received over $1,000 cash back in that time – all from purchases I was planning on making anyway.
Rakuten 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!
There are thousands of companies that offer military discounts – you can find discounts on food, travel, retail, jewelry, hotels, airline tickets, rental cars, and even new cars! Keep in mind that not all military discounts are advertised and participation does vary. Sometimes you need to ask. Here are some tips on finding military discounts. Here are some of our more popular references:
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 popularity of the store. For example, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, 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 those 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.
Another way to find savings is to go crowdsource it. Any time I need to make a major purchase, I go to a few sites to see what I can find. This is a great way to do research and often find the best deals. Some of the more popular discount websites include slickdeals, Hip2Save, Groupon, Living Social, RetailMeNot, ShopAtHome, and more. Some of these sites, such as slickdeals have very active forums where users post new deals and offers on a regular basis. You can also set up alerts that will email you or notify you via their smartphone app when certain deals pop up.
Do you have more tips for saving money on every purchase?