Here's my philosophy of spending. I won't buy something if it is...
a.) not on sale;
b.) cannot be bought with an incentive program credit card (sky miles, cash back);
c.) does not get me cashback (Ebates, etc.).
The best is when all three happen.
Here's another philosophical tidbit -- I shop from my own cupboards.
This means that I buy things when it's a super great deal -- whether I need it right then or not -- and then store them. This requires a bit of extra money on hand and a determination not to go crazy and buy unecessary items, just because it's cheap. Remember, it's stuff that we use/need. Also, I'm talking maybe one or two items. Not a closet-full of soap or a medicine cabinet of Robitussin. So, when they have the awesome annual toy deals at Amazon around Christmas time or the post-Christmas sale at my local Target, I buy items with the knowledge that I have at least 5 birthdays coming in the next 3 months. I have three spaces devoted to this:
- Two Banker Boxes in my sons' closet for gifts (some are earmarked for a specific person and some were great deals that I know I'll use somehow.)
- Two shelves in my Hallway closet for toiletries like tissue, medicine, razors, toothpaste, etc.
- A metal shelving out in the garage where I store extras of Ramen, cereal, tuna, etc.
If I can buy two of something at the beginning of the month and avoid a hair-pulling trip to Target for an "emergency" item with my 4 kids, I'm so down with that!
So, where do I find my deals? One place I look at every morning (and sometimes several times a day) is Slick Deals. People post the best deals here. You can do a specific search or just browse through and see what's out there. You can also sign up for an alert so that if your specific items is posted as a hot deal, you'll receive an email.
4.) Sign up for retailer's "loyalty cards/programs." Most have a loyalty card that lets you either earn "bucks" or discounts. Some just have you sign up via email and they will send you coupons, sales and deals. Fresh n' Easy sends out emails that often have $5+ off your purchase. My favorite is at , and I go into further detail below when I talk about finding bargains at specific stores. Again, you can use Cellfire to directly put coupons on those loyalty cards.
There are also for reward programs such as Coke's My Rewards, Disney Movie Rewards, Huggies Enjoy the Ride Club. I know some people get freaked out about giving out your email address to so many retailers. However, you can sign up for a subaccount (or another free account) and give out that email address and forward it to the one you check all the time.
5.) Use cashback program. Bing's program was my favorite, but now it's gone. So, I started using Ebates instead. It's easy. When I want to purchase something online, I just log on to Ebates and search for my items through their site. I get the same item at the same price, but the difference is that I earn a cashback percentage on what I spend.
6.) Sign up for daily emails from other bloggers/sites about places/ways to save money. My favorite right now is For the Mommas. Shannon has some great tips. Every day I get one email from her listing all of them and more often than not, I benefit from every single one. Another good one that is similiar is The Frugal Girls. Still another one for freebies is FreeFreebies.
9.) Buy quality when you can afford it. I won't ever buy another serious backpack other than Jansport. This is because like some other companies (RayBan, Faberware Can Openers, Totes Umbrellas, Cutco Knives), they have a Lifetime Guarantee. We once sent in a backpack that we called "Franken-Backpack" because it was held together by a set of safety pins. We got a new back pack mailed back to us within two weeks.
14.) Sign up for Rewards Cards: We use the United Mileage Plus Visa card. We love to travel, but we don't have a lot of money to do it. However, we can charge our regular purchases, pay them off and still accrue miles to redeem for airline tickets. We ended up accruing enough points recently to get two free roundtrip tickets to Maui for our 10-year anniversary. (And if you don't live near a major airport, being able to choose your small hometown airport is another bonus!) You can also accrue miles if someone you refer opens a credit card. So, if this post inspires you to open one maybe you'd consider giving me the referral by emailing me and letting me give you my mileage plus number? Oh...and one other bonus is that it's a Signature Visa card which means we get some nice BOGOs to and other places.
14.) Sign up for freebies when you find them....only if it's something you would use or could give to someone else to use. There are little a ton of freebies out there. However, if it's not a product that you see yourself using, then you're just cluttering up your house. FreeFreebies.org is a place where you can subscribe and choose which you want. You can also find them on FB.
17.) Make sure that in your intention to "save money," you don't end up spending money you don't have. What's the use of buying 10 soaps if you can only afford one? And, sure, Macy's might be offering 20% cashback and free shipping, but if you can't afford those new dinner plates, you shouldn't buy them. Also, with so many rebate deals from various companies (Buy $20 worth of product, get a $10 rebate, etc.) it can be tempting to buy the $20 worth of items, knowing that you are really only spending $10. However, if you don't use that product, then....yada, yada...you know the drill!
- Post-Holiday Clearance: The other awesome thing about Target is their post-holiday clearances. For example, I picked up a fuzzy baskeball Easter egg basket for $.97 that was marked 90% off. They usually start at 50% clearance after the holiday has passed, and then mark it down further every couple of days.
- Seasonal Sales:
**Kids' Clothing - In September/October and March/April, Target will clearance out their summer and winter clothing to make way for the new season. I've been able to get nice short and long-sleeved cotton T-shirts for $1.98.
- Cardholder Deals: I'm not a big advocate of applying for every department store's credit cards, but this is one of the ones I endorse! They offer so many special sales, deals and coupons that it's worth it. When you combine the extra savings with their online and in-store savings (and Kohl's cash), you can end up with a great combo. I bought a Keurig online before Christmas. The regular price was $129.99. It was on sale, I used a card member discount, got Bing Cashback and some Kohl's cash and got free shipping. Once the dust settled, I paid $83.
- Deal of the Day - Amazon always has a deal of the day. I am signed up for their daily email so I know what it is -- or I'll usually meander over and check it out. I have been able to score several deals on items that have been on my wish list. I will frequently buy "the perfect gift for the perfect price" for someone and then tuck it away until their birthday or Christmas.
- Music Deals - Amazon is trying to capture some of iTunes music sales and is offering great deals on album downloads for $5. During Christmas, they had 25 Days of Free Music and everyday, they had a free download. They will frequently put up free MP3s or discounted music.
- Toy Deals - Amazon has amazing toy deals after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. I've snapped up
- Amazon Prime - Prime membership allows you to buy whatever you want and pay $0 shipping...without having to spend the $25 minimum. A couple of times a year, they offer a free 30-day trial (usually around Christmas) and I always sign up. The other bonus is that you get expedited shipping. Forgot to get someone a gift? Need to ship a gift, but it's not $25? Found an awesome deal that you can't pass up? Amazon Prime is your friend. Just don't forget to make a note to cancel before the trial is up. Otherwise, your account is charged $59!