If you’re looking to make some extra room in your budget, then saving money is likely a priority that’s high on your list.
However, if saving doesn’t come naturally to you, it may be difficult to cut your spending in certain areas.
Instead of focusing on the small details, why not focus on ways to save money on any purchase you make? As a result, you’ll train yourself to look for ways to cut your spending, and you’ll be a natural saver in no time.
Here are five ways you can save money when making a purchase.
1. Buy Used, Refurbished, or Older Models
Most people enjoy the shine of a new toy, but that newness will cost you. If it’s at all possible, you should check for used or refurbished options first.
Think about it. Buying an open box TV will cost you a lot less than a new one. Likewise, buying a refurbished laptop has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars, especially on a brand or line that doesn’t go on sale often.
If you’re not a huge fan of buying used (there are some risks involved), then you can try looking for older models of a particular item.
For example, maybe you want to buy a new pair of running shoes. Last year’s model might be $20-$40 cheaper, depending on which brand and line you’re looking at.
In any case, buying something that’s older – whether it’s used or new – will save you money, especially where technology is concerned.
2. Check for Promotions and Coupons
One popular solution to saving money on purchases is to look for coupons. The problem with that is it can be time consuming. Most people don’t enjoy looking through the paper and clipping coupons on Sunday.
Instead, make it easier on yourself by having the coupons come to you. Create an email account specifically for “junk” email and sign up for the newsletters of the stores you like to shop at. Most offer discounts, exclusive sales and coupon codes.
The “trick” is to only check this email when you actually need to make a purchase. Otherwise, the sales might be too tempting for you. Know your limits!
If you don’t feel like signing up for newsletters, then at the very least, do a Google search for coupon codes when shopping online. If you see a place for a coupon or promo code at checkout, that means they’re available somewhere.
You can also check Groupon, Living Social, Slickdeals, and other discount/deal sites to see if there’s a sale on anything you need.
3. Compare Prices and Use Price Matches
Do you love to shop at Amazon? One of the best price tracking tools you can use is Camelcamelcamel. Name aside, it links up to your Amazon account and will track the prices of anything in your wish list. You can set your desired price, and you’ll receive an email alert when the price drops on an item.
There are many similar browser extensions and apps that you can use to view the price history of an item, see where it’s on sale, and for what price. This helps if you’re shopping at retailers that offer price match guarantees. A majority of major retailers offer this – Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc. All you need to do is provide proof that an item you want is cheaper elsewhere, and they’ll match the price for you.
This is great if you don’t feel like waiting a few days for an order to ship to you. Go to the store and ask for the discount instead.
4. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Did you know that there are some websites that sell gift cards at discounted prices? For example, say you want to shop at Target. You might be able to find a $100 gift card for $90 or $85.
People “sell” their unused gift cards to these websites, and in turn, the websites offer the gift cards at a discount. Keep an eye out and you might find gift cards selling for $30 under their value. It’s a great way to get a little discount here and there.
5. Take Advantage of Cash Back Opportunities
There are many ways to earn cash back, and the great thing about cash back is that you can use it toward anything!
One of the easiest ways to earn cash back is through shopping portals, such as Ebates. You sign up for an account and shop online via their affiliate links. In return, you get a certain percentage of cash back when you make a purchase. Once you reach the cash out threshold, you’ll be able to redeem your rewards.
Another option is to use a site like Swagbucks to earn points toward gift cards. Again, you can sign up for an account, and performing certain activities (such as filling out a survey or performing a search) will reward you with points. You can then redeem these points for a gift card at a retailer of your choice.