There is no reason to ever pay full retail price for anything you buy in a store — ever. With the rise of online shopping, which allows for instant price comparison, brick-and-mortar establishments must go the extra mile to earn your business. All you need are the tools to pay less for what you want. Read on to fill your toolkit:
1. Learn to Negotiate
Most people are uncomfortable haggling; we’re used to opening our wallets and saying “here.”
But you are likely to find it’s worth it to try your hand at bargaining. A Consumer Reports survey shows 89% of hagglers were successful at least once. And the savings can be substantial. People who questioned health care charges or furniture prices saved an average of $300, and those who challenged their cellphone plans saved about $80, according to CR.
In The Simplest Way to Save on Everything, Money Talks News offers 10 tips for haggling, including: doing your homework to know what the price should be, making sure you are asking the right person for the discount, paying with cash instead of plastic, and not being afraid to walk away.
Just remember: The first price isn’t always the final price, and there is no harm in asking for a better deal.
2. Use Online Tools to Get Discounts
Look for sites that offer coupons or coupon codes. Popular sites include retailmenot.com and couponcraze.com. For deals on eating out and entertainment, check out Groupon or (in most parts of the country) LivingSocial.
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson suggests following companies you like on Twitter and liking them on Facebook. Many offer special discounts and advance notice on upcoming deals at their stores through social media. Another way to get coupons and discount codes is by signing up to be on companies’ email lists.
When shopping, you can often determine whether the price on an item has been reduced as much as it can be by looking closely at the price tag on the store shelf. Lifehacker.com offers a chart showing secret price codes used by major retailers that can help you figure out if you’re getting a really good deal or just the regular price.
You can also install an extension like Coupons at Checkout on your browser and get automatic coupon codes for a wide range of retailers. Although these coupon codes provide extra discounts mainly to online purchases, some are also applicable in stores.
Stacy also recommends combining negotiating with online tools: “I’ll pull out my smartphone and show a store manager how much something costs online,” he says. “Now, they don’t always match that price, but they will often give me a discount.”
Another way to comparison-shop without having to make the trek to dozens of stores is to let an online price-tracker do your legwork. These tools allow you to enter products that you may want to purchase, and they alert you — by email or other means — when the price drops at any of the stores they track. Stacy used price-tracking software to get his Wi-Fi speaker — and saved $50 in the process.
There are many such sites. Appcrawlr.com helps you search for the price-tracker that most meets your shopping needs, whether at a store or online.
3. Use a Discounted Gift Card You Bought Online — but Be Wary
Another way to go is to use discounted gift cards. The cards come from people who have a gift card for a specific retailer, but will sell it for less than face value in order to get cash. So, for example, you may be able to buy their $50 Eddie Bauer gift card for $40. But if you go this route, you need to be mindful of scams.
Some of the more popular sites for buying gift cards include: GiftCards.com, which claims you can save 35% off of retail and covers more than 100 merchants; Cardpool.com, which also claims 35% savings and free shipping; and CardCash.com deals with 550 merchants and also offers up to 35% off.
A word of caution: Gift cards have been the target of many scams over time. The web site Scambusters.com provides a rundown of the most common ones and tips for protecting yourself from them.
And, if the goal is to save money, heed a word of advice from Investopedia: Make sure you spend gift cards as you would cash and not like free money.
4. To Save on Groceries, Shop on Sunday, Monday & Tuesday
On Wednesdays, many grocers begin store sales that last for a week, and on Sundays, big supermarkets often release coupon pamphlets, according to the digital news website Mashable. So the grocery shopper’s “sweet spot” is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday — when they can take advantage of both discounts.
5. Buy in Bulk When an Item Is on Sale
Whether it’s toothbrushes or non-perishable food items, you should consider buying in bulk. To start: Keep a price list of groceries and sundries your family buys on a regular basis to help you decide when you need something that is a great deal, according to Equifax.
You also need to make sure you have enough space to store your purchases and that the items are not perishable.
One reminder: Be sure you want what you are buying — and will use it — and not just because it is inexpensive. Otherwise it will just be taking up space.
This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.
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- 10 Ways to Get a Discount on Every Online Purchase
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