I’ve never met a deal I didn’t like. I’m a buy-one-get-one free kind of person, and nothing is more exciting than hunting down a really good sale. Who doesn’t enjoy finding an opportunity to save on an item, especially if it’s something we’ve had our eyes on?
So whether you’re a sale-stalker like myself, or you’re just hoping to learn the tricks of trade, we’ve rounded up some of the best ways to “deal or no deal.”
How to find a deal: Grocery edition
When it comes to grocery shopping, it would seem that finding a deal is simple enough. But the clipping and cutting of coupons is only one way to reduce your bill. Yes, paper coupons are still relevant, but most grocery stores have become technologically savvy, making it easier to save digitally on each and every shopping trip you take.
Where to begin? It’s a good idea to sign up for your grocery chain’s version of a shopper ‘s club card, which will immediately cut the cost of special items at the checkout line. You can sometimes load digital coupons onto this card as well, racking up extra savings. Ask your local grocery store for ways to save with this card.
Next, check store apps and websites like coupons.com or smartsource.com — these are great places to check for deals, too. Even with an arsenal of coupons at your disposable, it’s important to remember that if a coupon requires multiple purchases and you won’t use all those items, then the coupon isn’t really saving you money. Be scrupulous when searching high and low for deals — the end game is to save money, not spend it.
How to find a deal: Online shopping edition
Many of us do most of our shopping from the comfort of our own homes. But when it comes to finding deals in the virtual world, where should we start?
Mark Ellwood, author of Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World, did an interview with Business Insider and provided great tips for finding deals online. He suggested buying items in a two-step process: First, you put the items you like in your cart, then you close your browser and wait a few days before purchasing those items. “Leaving items in your virtual cart shows stores you’re contemplating a purchase,” Ellwood says, which encourages stores to entice you with a deal. Don’t be surprised to get a coupon or promo code in your inbox following your online activity.
Another way to score deals online is to follow a company on social media. Many retailers will announce sales this way or offer flash discounts to those who engage their social platforms.
Free shipping may also seem like a good way to save money on an online purchase, however, Ellwood says buyers should carefully consider a free shipping offer. “Just because shipping is free, it doesn’t make the overall purchase a great deal,” he said. He advises shoppers to compare costs with other sites in order to assess if free shipping really saves you more on your overall purchase.
We also know that promo codes are a great way to save money, but what if your retailer isn’t offering a promo code for what you want? Double check other websites to see if there is a deal you may be missing. Google the company with the words “promo code” or “coupon code” and then scan for deals. Sometimes the codes offered won’t work, but sometimes they do — and that’s exciting. Some stores will even offer 20 percent off for new shoppers, which may be a promo code that isn’t always advertised either.
How to find a deal: Tech edition
Playing the waiting game is the best time to score a deal when it comes to tech products. Liz Weston writes about money for various outlets, and she explains that electronics have their own seasons.
Companies like Samsung unveil their new models in October, which is a good time to purchase an older model, because prices will often drop by half. Apple will often reveal their new products in September, which is also the best time to buy last-generation models, too. “And while the company rarely discounts new products, retailers find ways to sweeten the deal,” Weston explains. “Because Apple gadgets are such magnets for shoppers, stores offer their own gift cards along with an Apple purchase.”
Black Friday is another way to find great deals on electronic items. But when it comes to some items, like televisions, late January is a good time to buy, too. Why? According to Weston, once the Super Bowl is over, the price of TVs can drop almost 30 percent. Looking for a new laptop? Try buying it in August when college students are heading back to school and tech companies are offering big discounts.
To learn the best season to buy a specific product, check out this month-by-month shopping plan, which outlines cyclical deals.
How to find a deal: Clothing edition
We’re often at the mercy of a good sale when it comes to buying clothes in brick-and-mortar stores. But there are some basic tips to follow in order to ensure you aren’t paying full price.
First, consider asking if your retailer offers a discount for students or teachers. Just by showing your ID, you may be eligible for 20 percent off (and that can include sale items, too).
Also, think about stocking up on clothing pieces when that season is over. Best time to shop for winter clothes: January. And summer? Items for that season go on major sale in September.
Another way to get on the inside of a sale is to make friends with those who work at the store. They can tell you when a new shipment is arriving because new products can mean current products will go on sale. Lastly, it never hurts to ask if an online promo code or even a newly expired coupon can be used on an in-store purchase. Any way you can save is good way to shop!
Why pay full price when you can round up a good deal? Though searching for a discount takes time and patience, being able to save money on any given purchase is well worth the wait (especially for your bank account). Remember, as a selective consumer, you get to decide if a product is worthy of your hard-earned money, so allow retailers to work for you and your lifestyle — not the other way around!