So, I have always been someone who will shop around for the best deals. I have always been a "saver" and very frugal. In fact, growing up, I remember saving EVERYTHING. When we would go trick-or-treating on Halloween, I would save my candy--and, it would last forever (I remember having some candy left on Halloween from the Halloween the previous year). That is, except for that year my brothers found it. In all years besides that year I remember that only the orange and black-wrapped peanut butter candies would be left at the end; and, by that time they were little rocks and I had to throw them away anyway.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel it is time to share where I have found some of the best deals! I love sharing these things with others, because I am so passionate about not paying more than is necessary for things. Why should others have to pay more than is necessary? So, here we go...
Are you looking to try a new restaurant? Why pay full price? Go to www.restaurant.com. There, you will find TONS of gift certificates you can purchase for a small portion of the price. For example, (Austinites) you can purchase a $75 gift certificate to Hudson's on the Bend for $30. But wait---it doesn't end there. As the month goes by, if you sign up for a free account, you get emailed codes to enter to get an additional percentage off. Currently, if you enter "SPORK" when you check out, you get an additional 70% off. So, that Hudson's on the Bend $75 gift certificate is now $9. CRAZY---but it is no joke. This is how we go out to eat.
GROUPON (and Morgan's Deals, LivingSocial,etc.):
Ok, if you have a smart phone, get the Groupon app. Or, if you don't have a smart phone, go to groupon.com and create an account to get deals e-mailed to you daily. You can get AMAZING deals there. We recently purchased a $50 gift certificate to the GAP for $25. We knew we had many upcoming birthdays and Christmas to purchase gifts for, so we knew we would use it. Similar websites, which send you these daily deals are Morgan's deals and Living Social. I'm signed up for both of those sites as well.
For us, the key to bargain hunting is not buying stuff just because it is a good deal--that would be counterproductive. We are actually strategic about it--we think about all of the purchases we know we are needing to make over the next year and plan the purchases so that we can get the best deals possible.
WHEN TO BUY THINGS:
For example, if we are needing to take a trip, we watch Southwest.com very closely as they run fare sales pretty frequently. We were able to snag a deal on a trip from Austin to Tulsa for $78 one way.
Also, we buy the soaps and wallflowers from bath and body works. We know they have a semi-annual sale, so that is when we stock up for the year. Actually, we now have a bath and body works outlet store near us, so we don't have to wait for the twice-annual sale.
Here is a great listing for when to buy things--there are certain times of the year where it is better to make the purchase than others: http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/the-best-time-to-buy-everything-20025/
For example, Clothing:
When to buy: Thursday evenings, six to eight weeks after an item arrives in stores.
Why: After an item lingers in stores a month or more, retailers start dropping its price to get it out the door, says Kathryn Finney, author of "How to Be a Budget Fashionista." These season-end clearances tend to be the same month that designers host fashion weeks (February and September) to preview the next fall or spring collections. So smart buyers can check the catwalk to see if any of this season's trends — say, leggings or military-style jackets — will still be hot next year, and then scoop them up on clearance.
Hitting the mall on a weekday ensures you'll get a good selection. "On the weekend, you'll only get picked-over stuff because the stores don't have time to restock," she says. By Thursday, most of the weekend sales have begun, but everything available is on the floor. Or, if you are like me--you pretty much limit your clothes shopping to TJ Maxx, Ross & Marshall's :-)
Here, is the other key for us. For everything we regularly buy, we try to have a frequent shopper card, or something of the sort. Here is a GREAT example: diapers. We, of course, go through diapers right now like crazy, since we have a baby. We buy pampers, because we love them! They fit great for our Luke, they are very absorbent, so you have less diaper changes, AND they have a rewards program. First, we buy the largest package we can, because they cost less per diaper that way AND we buy them at Sams Club. We have found that is the least expensive place to buy them. If you buy pampers, make sure you keep the little green sticker that is stuck to the plastic within the package. Then, sign up for a pampers.com account, and log the rewards codes. You can also search for more rewards codes online and enter those. For example, http://www.retailmenot.com/view/pampers.com.
Because babies are very expensive, it is important to shop around for the best deals on things. If you sign up for a Babies-R-Us rewards card, you get a 20% off coupon, along with many others, every month mailed to your house. If you can save up your baby-related purchases for a once-per-month trip, than you could have quite a lot of potential savings there as well. Also, babycenter.com has a forum for bargain hunters and a link for free stuff and great deals: http://www.babycenter.com/free-baby-stuff.
Lastly, we buy a LOT of stuff online. And, when we do, we do a lot of comparison searches. My favorite way to search is google shopping. You can simply go to google.com and search for the item your purchasing, then click the shopping link at the top of the page. Here is an example of a diaper search: Diaper Search. Then, I don't stop there on my deal hunting. After I find the site where I am going to be making my purchase, I then do a search for a coupon code for that item/website. For example, if purchasing pictures on Shutterfly, I would google "Shutterfly Coupon Code". Retailmenot is a great site for coupon codes. Also, if you shop through bing.com (and have created a bing account), you can often get cash back as well.
Shutterfly reminds me of another deal I'd like to share. So, we all probably have tons of digital pictures, but I know some of us are really bad about getting them printed. Here is a good way to do it for FREE. Yes, I said FREE! Just create an account at Shutterfly.com, Kodak.com and Snapfish.com. Each of those sites offers free prints (some 50 prints, some 100 and some 25 or so) for new accounts. If you are planning on printing pics anyway, you may as well do that. You don't even have to leave your house--they will ship them to you within days. Or, if you are inpatient like me, you can have them printed at target and walgreens using those same websites and pick them up within the hour. If you already have an account, create a new one with your spouse's email address--he or she can get free photos also. Then, if you want to print more than your allotted free number of pictures, just do a search for coupon codes, and get free shipping, an additional % off, etc.
DEALS OF THE WEEK:
I also watch Terri of KVUE's Smart Money Blog regularly. In fact, I have it bookmarked on our home computer. She posts some great information, including her deals of the week: http://www.kvue.com/community/blogs/smart-money/Deals-of-the-Week-102922744.html.
I have many other tips for the frugal, but this post is getting long. I'd be happy to share with you though if you are interested---just call or shoot me an email. Or, if you have a tip, I'd LOVE to hear about it. Add a comment to this post and share with all of our readers!
I'll end with some obligatory Luke photos--it's been a while since I posted pics of our little guy: