Tough times can make savvy shoppers out of us all…
With unemployment running rampant, housing prices still dropping, and consumers not spending, it is no secret that our economy is still in deep trouble. Yet with adversity comes great opportunity! Frugality is en vogue! Let’s look at some ways you can save money…
Visa released a study showing U.S. consumers cannot account for approximately $21 per week in cash spending. This is over $1,000 per year. Those between the ages of 18 to 24 fare even worse – losing track of $2,500 annually. That is a lot of cash! Not only do many of us lose track of spending, we pay far too much for items because we fail to do a “little research”. That is why I wanted to provide you with some online resources and tips to help save you money. With budgets being reigned in, how can you minimize some of your ongoing expenses? It pays to comparison shop more effectively. Here are ten tips to help you shop better and save more!
1. Get reviews before you spend
ConsumerSearch: This consumer-friendly site features product reviews from multiple sources and rates the reviews on a variety of criteria, including credibility, timeliness, and qualifications of the reviewer.
Wize: Here you will find millions of reviews of millions of consumer products. You can search for products based on specific product names and your needs. Wize aggregates reviews from sites such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and CNET and reports the results as either a “Wize Choice” or an “Unwize Choice.”
Epinions: This site features product reviews by consumers who have bought and used the products. The site has advisors who are in charge of different categories, and top reviewers, whose opinions are valued by the category advisors. Users also rate reviewers based on the usefulness and completeness of the reviews.
ConsumerReview: This site offers very comprehensive reviews, buying guides, and discussion forums on electronics, computers, golf, cars, food and wine, office equipment, and more.
2. Use a price comparison website
Become: This site combines price comparisons and news about specific products you’re researching, updated every 10 minutes. You can see your results displayed in two ways: a list that shows fewer products and more information, or a grid that shows more products with less information. Price information includes shipping charges and taxes and allows you to search nearby retailers.
FatWallet: This is a hybrid site that offers price comparisons, coupons, and busy, busy forums where community members discuss hot deals, maximizing rewards, and even financial services information like who’s offering the best checking account, deals on credit cards, and insurance products.
Bizrate: Here you will find price comparisons on thousands of products. You can narrow the search by price, brand, store, or type, and compare products to each other. The site features a store-rating guide that evaluates hundreds of stores based on ease of ordering, price, on-time delivery, and whether the product met expectations.
PriceGrabber.com: This site covers products from tech to appliances to jewelry to clothing. Each seller is rated via thousands of consumer reviews and listings include links to pictures, discounts, ratings, and the bottom-line price.
StreetPrices: When you know exactly what you’re looking for in the electronics arena, StreetPrices will show you the best prices and e-mail you when the price drops below the lowest amount. You can also store notes about individual products. Stores are not rated, but an info link provides detailed information about each store, such as how long it’s been in business, return policy, whether it’s a member of the Better Business Bureau, and the toll-free customer service number.
3. Join a private shopping club
Gilt Groupe: This high-end fashion website operates seven days a week offering designer fashion, jewelry, vacations, and home decor at significant discounts. It’s also turned into a million-dollar business model that is the envy of the fashion industry and enticing Wall Street.
One Kings Lane: This club features top home decor brands at significant discounts.
Ideeli: This site offers the gamut of luxury goods for children, men, and women, including accessories and beauty products.
Totsy: Moms will love the deals on clothing, bedding, bath, educational materials, and more for kids.
4. Use a prescription drug savings program
PharmacyChecker.com: PharmacyChecker.com was founded by a medical doctor in 2003 to help consumers safely save money on medication. It independently checks the credentials of online pharmacies and lets you easily compare drug prices. Its online pharmacy verification program is the largest and most accepted — referenced by AARP Magazine, Smart Money, and Consumer Reports.
DestinationRx: This site provides free, easy-to-use tools to help you securely manage and make decisions about prescription purchases for you and your family.
Pharmacy Reviewer: Pharmacy Reviewer provides free worldwide prescription drug price comparison and online pharmacy reviews.
Medicine Coach: My good friend West Connor gives away a ton of valuable information. As a pharmacist, West provides great “inside tips” on how to save money on prescriptions.
5. Save before you travel
Kayak: Compare hundreds of travel sites at once.
Bing travel: Bing travel helps you Know When To Buy™, When To Fly™, and Where To Stay™ – all based on a huge volume of airfare and hotel rate data that they process every day. Their airfare predictions and hotel Rate Indicators are available from most major U.S. and Canadian cities to destinations worldwide. Use their smart travel search to easily compare, sort, and narrow flight and hotel results from hundreds of websites.
Home Exchange:Home Exchange is a vacation alternative where you stay in someone’s house and they stay in yours. Simply click on a country or state where you want to go, select an interesting listing, and then send a privacy protected email to that listing directly from the site. You can also list your own home and get inquiries from around the world.
Cruisedirectonline.com: Search hundreds of pages of helpful information, get cruise reviews, get deck plans, photos, tools and prices for hundreds of great discount cruises and cruise deals.
BeatAnyCruisePrice.com: Search for cruises and find the lowest prices around. They have had their “Beat Any Cruise Price guarantee” since 1999
6. Save on insurance coverage
Insure.com: Compare prices on most insurances – life, disability, home, auto, health care, and long-term care insurance.
EHealthInsurance: eHealthInsurance.com is the largest online resource for health insurance.
7. Reduce your interest charges on your home loan and credit cards
Bankrate: Shop around for the best rates on credit cards, home mortgages, loans, CDs, and more.
CardRatings.com: A great site for credit card resources, comparisons, and consumer advocate resources.
CreditCards.com: Search for credit cards that offer cash back or rebate incentives. A Cash Back Credit Card rewards you for using them with cash back incentives and rebate programs. Keep in mind, credit cards with cash rebates and incentives usually require a good to excellent credit rating for approval.
8. Maximize those tax deductions and/or buy used items
The Salvation Army lists the value of clothing, appliance, car, furniture, and household goods donations for tax purposes. They also offer used clothing to help you save money.
Goodwill also offers a guide to resale values of items ranging from clothing to home appliances to electronics. Another place to get used items at significantly reduced prices.
9. Clip those coupons
Here are several coupon and promotional code sites
10. Be a better shopper for food and household items
In addition to using coupons, it also makes financial sense to:
- Stockpile large amounts of nonperishable groceries and toiletries when they go on sale
- Most people don’t realize but you can save huge on groceries and household supplies by shopping by shopping at drugstores like Walgreens, CVS or RiteAid Pharmacies. These stores provide incentives to get you in their doors. Sometimes by combining in store savings and coupons you can get items for free, yes FREE!
- Cook more at home. You can save significant money — and improve the quality and nutritional value of your food –by cooking from scratch rather than buying “stuff from a box” or a restaurant.
- Plan your meals ahead. Look at the local grocery flyers to see “weekly specials”. Make a meal menu based on what’s on sale.