There are some things that most people will try to save money on. When we’re looking to refuel our cars, we’ll head to the gas station with the lowest prices; when we’re at the grocery store, we’ll use coupons to knock a few bucks off the bill; and when we’re buying a new home, we’ll try to negotiate with the seller to get them to accept a price below what they were asking for.
But for some reason, we are often very selective about how and when we use these techniques to try and save money. This is despite the fact that we can use a combination of methods to (almost) never have to pay full price for anything.
Most of us are familiar with clipping coupons and using them in stores and restaurants, but we can actually use them for many other things too. Fans of sports betting can use them to unlock bonuses at online sportsbooks; for example, FanDuel currently has a promo code that unlocks a risk-free bet for new customers.
Similarly, digital coupon codes can be used at thousands of online retailers to get free shipping, discounts, and free products. The free browser extension Honey can do much of the heavy lifting as it will automatically try all the known coupon codes whenever you shop online, so you don’t even have to remember to check.
You can also use printable coupons from sites like Coupons.com and app-based coupons from companies like Swagbucks to save even more when you shop in-store.
When buying a house or a car, we do a ritualistic dance with the seller or salesperson. You try to bring the price down as far as you can go while they’ll be attempting the opposite. In many Western countries, these are just about the only times we try to barter, but actually, there are many more occasions where it may be possible.
Of course, don’t expect the cashier at Walmart to give you a discount on your sliced cheese or the barista at Starbucks to knock a few bucks off your morning caffeine fix, but salespeople often have scope for negotiation on big-ticket. It’s usually at their discretion though, so you’ll need to be polite, courteous, and use a bit of charm.
Buy in Bulk
Businesses use “economies of scale” to bring their costs down. This fancy name essentially just means getting a discount for buying a larger quantity. You don’t have to be a conglomerate to take advantage of this though.
Stores like Costco allow you to save money by buying in bulk, though you should always do the math before making any purchases as not everything is actually cheaper.
It’s not just wholesalers where you can obtain economies of scale, you can also do this in regular stores. For example, if your supermarket is running a promotion for cleaning products or dried foods that you buy on a regular basis, you could stock up and buy more than you need right now. Provided you can store them at home, you’ll lock in this promotional discount for weeks and months after it has ended.
For times when you can’t negotiate or use coupons, you can try to earn cash back instead. There are cashback sites like TopCashback that pay you a rebate for qualifying purchases from their partner retailers. This list of online stores is pretty long too, covering everything from insurance to pet food.
Even if the business you want to purchase from isn’t partnered with a cash back site, you may still be able to earn a rebate if you have a cash back credit card. Several banks offer these cards to customers, either paying a fixed percentage of all purchases or a variable rate depending on the category of the retailer.
The rates can vary from between 0.5% to upwards of 10%, but any rebate is better than none, so it’s always worth it.
Get a Combo Bonus
Sometimes you can combine several of these techniques together, often using a cash back credit card with one of the others. In this case, you can compound your savings to keep even more of your money in your pocket.