There is no reason to ever pay full retail price for anything you buy in a store. 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.
To score bargains, you simply need the tools to pay less for what you want. Read on to fill your tool kit:
1. Learn to negotiate
Most people are uncomfortable haggling. Instead, we’re used to opening our wallets and saying “here.”
But it is probably worth trying to bargain. A Consumer Reports survey shows 89 percent 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 Consumer Reports.
In “The Simplest Way to Save on Everything,” Money Talks News offers 10 tips for haggling, including:
- Do your homework to know what the price should be.
- Make sure you are asking the right person for the discount.
- Pay with cash instead of plastic.
- Don’t be 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 brick-and-mortar discounts
Look for sites that offer coupons or coupon codes. Popular sites include RetailMeNot and Coupon Craze. 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 company email lists.
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 tapping the power of the internet when negotiating: “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.”
You can also 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
Discounted gift 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.
If you go this route, beware of scams. Only buy from reputable sites. Two of the more popular and well-respected sites for buying gift cards are:
4. To save on groceries, shop on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
On Wednesdays, many grocers begin store sales that last for a week, according to the digital news website Mashable. On Sundays, big supermarkets often release coupon pamphlets.
So the grocery shopper’s “sweet spot” is Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, when shoppers can take advantage of both discounts.
5. Buy in bulk when an item is on sale
Whether it’s toothbrushes or nonperishable food items, you should consider buying in bulk. Keep a price list of groceries and sundries that your family buys on a regular basis to help you decide when something is a great deal.
You also need to make sure that 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. Otherwise it will be a waste of money that is just taking up space.
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