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Deals

Let this cheap frugal blogger help you save some dollas!  I’m notorious for getting a good deal, no matter what it takes, and I blame that on both nature and nurture – it runs in my family.  Perhaps it started when I would help my mom cut coupons when I was little before we went to ShopRite.  Or maybe it flourished when I watched my sister, who moved to Manhattan to work in fashion, always get ridiculous designer deals from sample sales.

Savings are everywhere, you just have to know how to find them! Here are a few tips to save a few bucks.


Shopping

  • Coupon AppsSnipSnap is a free app that lets you search for coupons on the go.  Generous users take pictures of their in-store and online coupons which you can search through and then show at the register.  I’ve had a lot of success with this app at stores like Sephora and Payless – places you know have coupons but just haven’t sent them to you!  Also, don’t forget to add your loyalty cards to Passbook and check if your grocery store offers coupon apps (ShopRite has an app that let’s you clip virtual coupons that automatically send to your loyalty card). And now, Coupons.com even lets you add coupons straight to loyalty cards.
  • Online Shopping: Every single time you buy something online (which is probably part of your shopping experience more and more frequently) you should ALWAYS check cash back sites.  It’s as simple as searching the store on the below sites and if they participate, click through their web link to get to that store before shopping.  You will automatically get a percentage cash back every time you shop and they send you an actual check.  This is FREE MONEY at it’s finest. The trick is, however, you can only use ONE of these sites at a time, so just see which has the highest cash back for the store you are shopping at (they change frequently). Sign up now:
    – Ebates
    – Mr. Rebates
    – Be Frugal
    – Some Credit Cards also have cash back reward programs as well.
  • Friends & Family: If you have a particular “splurge” item in your head that you just might have to give into, wait until a department store has their annual or semi-annual Friends & Family event.  Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Saks, and Lord & Taylor all have Friends & Family sales that offer between 10-25% off nearly everything in the store.  There are a few exclusions like the super expensive designers, but for the most part, anything you could want is offered at that store’s biggest discount of the year.  Now, even beauty brands/stores have annual sales, including Bobbi Brown and Sephora.  Subscribe to each store’s emails to get notified when the savings events are coming (or have really great shopper friends that remind you)!

Travel: The key to saving on travel is loyalty.  Pick brands you love and utilize them as much as possible to get rewards.  For me, I always fly United and always stay in Marriott (or Best Western if Marriott is too pricey).   This won’t work out 100% of the time, as you’ll find some great deals outside of your brand commitments, but in the end, loyalty will pay.

  • Credit Cards: If traveling is a passion (like it is for me), then it may be worth it to open a credit card tied to an airline or hotel chain.  I signed up through my bank, Chase, for a United MileagePlus Explorer card and received 30,000 bonus miles just for opening it and an extra 5,000 miles for adding someone as an authorized user. (Tom also opened the same card and added me as a user, so we ended up flying to Italy for pretty much nothing.)  Hotel chains like Marriott offer similar deals, including free nights when you sign up for their credit card.  [Keep in mind – this is only worth it if you’re the type to use your credit card a lot and then pay it off in FULL every month!]
  • Reward Points: If a credit card is too much of a commitment but you have an airline or hotel that you love, stick to it.  The rewards programs will help you rack up points to use later on, and if you travel often you could end up with a free vacation.  The catch is that you must book through the hotel or airline’s website, not one of the discount sites (but the prices are typically the same once you calculate the fees). Can’t stick to one chain? Try a rewards program like Hotels.com which lets you book any hotel and still get points towards a free night using their site.
  • AAA: Never forget to check if a hotel offers discounts for AAA members! Even if you book through the website, you can always confirm at check-in. Most major hotel chains will offer 10% off.
  • Hotel Guarantees: Find a great deal on a website that is NOT on that hotel chain’s site? Chances are, they have a best rate guarantee. Marriott will offer you 25% off the lowest price if you book through their site and submit a claim form with proof of a cheaper price on another site. (Note: they are VERY strict about how the rates match up so it must be a publicly available rate or they will deny the claim.)
  • Deal Sites: If you aren’t too picky about where and how to travel, there are plenty of travel deals out there, many of which are full packages at a great discount.  Subscribe to sites like Travelzoo for daily hotel and flight deals, CheapCaribbean.com for Mexican and Caribbean getaways, Jetsetter for luxury deals, and Airfare Watchdog will send you email alerts when it finds a low fare for your desired flight.  Also, check out Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes for great hotel and packaged vacation discounts.

Entertainment: Music, books, and activities can come very cheap, or even free.

  • Video2mp3: Got a song that you just really want to download?  Video2mp3.net will let you convert any YouTube video into a downloadable mp3, for FREE.  The downside is there are lots of annoying ads while you complete the download, but for just a few songs, it’s worth it.
  • Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio: All of these music sites are free (although they offer paid subscriptions). Spotify is taking over the music listening world and will let you listen to almost any released song and build playlists, and take other people’s playlists.  (To listen on the go, however, you’ll need to pay the $10/month.)   Pandora creates radio stations for you (for free, with ads) or you can upgrade to play with more skips and no ads. iTunes Radio is new to the game … we’ll have to wait and see how that fares with the competition.
  • The Library: Don’t underestimate your library. You’d be amazed how quickly they obtain new, popular books. My library also has a huge selection of DVDs, BlueRays, and video games – all free. Addicted to your Kindle? Most libraries have eBook rentals too. Ask you local library how to access them and you can usually just download them straight from their website – no physical visit needed.
  • Pulsd: Sites like Pulsd (in the NYC area) have deal calendars that show what’s going on this week, most of which are free of charge. They also offer paid deals like Groupon if you spot any good local deals.
  • Broadway Shows: Plum Benefits gives great discounts on everything from Broadway to amusement parks. The caveat is your company must participate, although most companies do since it’s a free service. If you live in the area and don’t get too picky about what show you want to see, TodayTix is an app that offers upcoming shows for the week at extremely discounted prices.

Life: Everyday life is filled with savings if you are smart in how you save.  

  • Savings Accounts: Most banks have really low interest rates on savings accounts (around .01%), but if you shop around, you can find some that have up to 1%.  By just paying attention to the rates and moving your money around, you can gain some dollars with a decent interest rate.  Just beware of high yield accounts that have fees and require a minimum balance.
  • Mint.com: If you need help managing expenses or just want to be aware of where all your money is going every month, sign up for a Mint.com account.  You can link your bank accounts, loans, savings, credit score, and any other financial information you have.  You can set financial goals and Mint will send you alerts when you are overspending in a certain category, and also remind you when your bills are due.  
  • Automatic Payments: As part of my savings strategy, I setup automatic payments so that I always know what my NET pay is after all of my expenses. My method is this: I know I get my paycheck automatically deposited on the 15th and 30th every month. So on those same days, I have a set amount of that paycheck transferred to savings automatically (it’s as simple as pressing a button on my online account).  I also have my bills automatically withdrawn every month.  That way, whatever is left in my checking is what I have allowed myself to live off of, which I’ve calculated is more than enough to get by.

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