Not everything in life is free, but most of it can be purchased for a discount if you’re willing to put in the work. From online coupon sites to wholesale warehouses, there are many ways for savvy consumers to avoid paying the full retail price on many of their everyday purchases. In fact, our commercial society has yielded so many money-saving techniques that Karla Bowsher, the editor of the deals page at Money Talks News, claims it’s possible for a shopper to never pay retail again.
That might sound crazy, but when you think of the numerous opportunities retailers give consumers to dodge the dreaded MSRP, it makes a surprising amount of sense. Here four simple techniques that you can use to get a discount on your daily purchases.
1) Shop wholesale. Buying in bulk can be a pain, especially if you don’t have a pressing need for those jumbo-sized boxes of cereal. However, shopping at Sam’s Club and other wholesale retailers can be a great way to save money on several types of purchases. To maximize your savings, try sticking to things that you can actually use a lot of, like bathroom supplies and bottled water. You can get good deals on electronics and books through these warehouses as well.
2) Stop throwing all those coupons away. Every Sunday, our newspapers arrive stuffed with inserts full of coupons to local grocery and department stores. And every Sunday, without fail, Americans throw pretty much all of these coupons away. At the moment only 3% of all available coupons are redeemed, even though many of them are actually good for discounts on things you’re going to buy anyway – like milk and contact solution. We’re not saying you should start storing every coupon in a binder like those crazy ladies on TLC, but clipping a few every week can’t hurt.
3) Buy it online. Since online retailers don’t necessarily need to deal with overhead due to things like office space or a large staff, they can often afford to sell their merchandise for much less than the local Best Buy or Barnes & Noble. If you want new electronics, go to NewEgg. If you want a new pair of jeans, look for them on eBay. Pretty much everything else can be found on Amazon. Just remember to use a low-limit credit card to make your purchases. That way, if your information gets stolen, you won’t be held liable for any fraudulent charges.
4) Start hoarding gift cards. The gift card market has created an interesting sort of micro-economy among the country’s biggest retailers. Thanks to sites like Gift Card Granny and Plastic Jungle, people can sell their unwanted gift cards for cash. In return, savvy shoppers can pick these cards up for about 10% less than their retail value. Dealing in gift cards has some very obvious limitations, but for consumers who do a lot of shopping at major chains like Target and Costco, stocking up on discounted gift cards can be a great way to avoid paying full price for purchases.
Is it really possible to never pay retail price on a single piece of merchandise ever again? Probably not, but we do believe it’s possible to dodge paying retail for a day, a week or even a month if you’re clever enough. Every day we pass up dozens of opportunities to save money on our purchases because we’re simply too lazy or “don’t have the time” to put forth the effort. So here’s our challenge: try to go 24 hours without paying full price for anything. Keep a tally of the money you’re saving on every purchase, even if it only adds up to $5. After all, if you can save $5 tomorrow, who knows how much you can save in an entire month?