Sunday, September 20, 2009

How to find the best deals on stuff

I get a lot of questions about how I get such great deals on stuff, and I've already explained how I do it with grocery store purchases, but what about all that other stuff?

Here are a few tips that I've found helpful in my experience. Doing just a little more work will make a huge difference in your spending.

Go online

An HDMI cable (the one that makes your HD TV work) is $90 at Best Buy. An even longer cable from an online retailer is $0.83 (which includes shipping!). I don't have to tell you that that is a ridiculous difference. Stores like Best Buy have huge markups on products like these, and by going online, you're getting the same products for a lot less because these retailers have a smaller overhead.

I'm such a big believer in this that after I tried my Alfred Angelo wedding dress on at the store, I went online and bought it from an online retailer. Instead of the $800 the bridal shop would have charged, I paid $300.

Do your research

With the amount of information available online at this point, there's no reason to pay more than the lowest price possible. I like to shop around a little while and do my research on prices before I buy. A simple Google Product Search will tell you a lot about general price ranges before you to commit to buy something.

Buy Used

It's no secret that buying used can save you money. Shopping thrift shops will save you a lot of money, especially on things like furniture, but if you're like me, you don't have time to go from thrift store to thrift store to find what you're looking for.

You can still shop used online using sites like eBay, Amazon, and Craig's List, and this way, you get a wider selection on used items. (eBay and Amazon have new items as well, and they're almost always cheaper than retail.)

Use social networking to your advantage

I follow tweeters like @CouponTweet, @CheapTweet, and @PoorMansGuide to get notified about free or cheap deals on various things. I read blogs like Couponing101 and Craving the Savings to read about deals in my area. I subscribe to email newsletters for places like Victoria's Secret and Borders to get free coupons or sale notifications for their products. I use DealWaiter to get notified about things I'm looking for good deals on.

Find out what works for you and take advantage of these kinds of things! (By the way, I have a separate email address for coupons and things so my regular inbox doesn't get flooded.)

Make your own

Making your own stuff is usually cheaper than buying at a store. I love Swoozies, a personalized gifts and stationary store, but their stuff is super-expensive, and I could make almost anything I find there. Buying chicpeas and making my own hummus is much cheaper than buying it pre-made. Using sites like Tip Junkie to find cool re-purposing and DIY ideas has helped me make my own gifts and other things.

Take advantage of rewards websites

By shopping for stuff through sites like Cashbaq, Bing, or Swagbucks, you'll get rewards for things that you were going to buy anyway.

By going to the Swagbucks website first and selecting clicking the VistaPrint link instead of just going straight to VistaPrint, I got rewarded 6 free Swagbucks for buying the Survival Mode Parent business cards from an online retailer that I was going to use anyway. Same thing with Cashbaq.

Create accounts for these websites and use them when you buy things.

Stock up

Usually, buying in bulk will save you money per item. If you have the room for it and the money to invest, buy a lot of something at once to save you money. By buying an entire box of padded envelopes on eBay instead of a few at the store, we paid a lot less for them (and always have some around when we need them!)

ALWAYS check for coupon codes before you buy

Using Retail Me Not, I've saved hundreds of dollars on things I've bought online. Retail Me Not is a database of user-added coupon codes (sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, so it takes some experimentation and strategy to find the right one).

When I bought my HP laptop, I checked Retail Me Not and found a code for $200 off of my laptop purchase. When I bought iStockPhoto credits for my business, I checked Retail Me Not first and found a 20% discount.

These are huge discounts, and all I had to do was check for a code.


Jessica Latshaw said...

wow, this is incredibly helpful--thank you so much, Mandy!

My2Gs said...

Another reward site that I just learned about and signed up for is:

I'm excited to try it because you earn money as opposed to gift cards :)

~ Lacie