So, you don’t want to pay full price for anything you buy – and why should you? These days, you have so many ways to get around that pesky price on the tag, and with the latest apps and websites on your side, you can save big with very little effort. Here are 28 ways to get out of paying what’s on the sticker. (See also: How to Master These 10 Shopping Skills Before You Hit 30)
The original article by Paul Michael has been edited here for length (…) and clarity ([ ]) by munKNEE.com to provide a fast & easy read
1. Comparison shop
You might find the cost of the item you want varies significantly from store to store. Never buy anything without first doing a little research. Google will show you multiple prices from different stores, and an app like ShopSavvy makes it easy on the go.
2. Get price-drop refunds
Many credit cards now offer price protection. That means if the price you pay for something drops in the 90 days after you bought it, you can get the difference back. An app like Earny automates the whole process for you. Just wait and cash in. (See also: 14 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know About)
3. Use cash-back credit cards
Many credit cards offer cash-back incentives. You’ll find that 1-2 percent cash back is standard, although sometimes it’s higher on items like gas and airfare. As long as you pay off the balance in full each month, you’re instantly cashing in every time you swipe.
4. Subscribe to deal newsletters and apps
Sites and apps like DealNews and SlickDeals make it easy to find the items you want for less. Just do a search for what you need, and you’ll be given a range of items that are currently on sale or clearance, and which retailers are offering the lowest price. (See also: These Apps and Extensions Find Online Deals for You — Automatically)
5. Clip coupons
With many coupons going digital, there’s not a pressing need to actually ‘clip’ anything, but get into the habit of looking through coupon apps and circulars before you shop. You may find that you can use the coupons so effectively you’re barely paying for anything in your shopping cart. (See also: The 10 Best Couponing Apps)
6. Abandon your online cart
Pick out everything you want, put it in your cart, and then skip the final process. Many sites will encourage you to come back and check out with a discount. Just check your email (you may even get an offer code as you attempt to leave the site). After all, offering you 10 percent off is better for them than you not spending any money at all.
7. Look for refurbished items
Most manufacturer refurbished items are as close to new as you can get without actually being brand-new, and they are significantly cheaper. They’ve also been rigorously tested. And if you see “new (other)” in the item’s description, it’s probably just missing a price tag or a small accessory, but the lower price is well worth it. (See also: This Is the Secret to Buying Electronics for Cheap)
8. Buy offseason
Shopping offseason can save you big bucks. Base all your shopping on the sales cycles of the stores you frequent. Plan ahead. Buy a winter coat when the warm weather hits. Buy swimsuits as the winter draws in. You’ll pay way less for everything. (See also: These 6 Shopping Challenges Will Keep You Stylish Without Breaking Your Budget)
9. Shop warehouses and outlets
Warehouse clubs. Outlet and factory stores. These are places where the emphasis is on getting the most value for your money — not paying the full retail price. You’ll be getting the same items, only in bulk or off season. It’s great if you don’t care about wearing the very latest fashions.
10. Shop in thrift stores
There’s no shame in buying secondhand items or donated goods. Often, you can find items in excellent condition at 75 percent less than the retail price. In some cases, you can get clothing for just $1, including jackets and jeans — just wash and wear. (See also: 7 Money Lessons I Learned From Thrift-Shopping)
11. Set up automatic shipments
Amazon has a feature called “subscribe and save” that gives you big discounts when you get items delivered regularly, but they aren’t the only retailer that offers this service. Magazines and newspapers also offer massive savings if you subscribe, knocking up to 95 percent off the cover price. (See also: 7 Amazon Prime Perks You’ve Forgotten to Use)
12. Learn to haggle
Haggling has become a lost art in America, but it can still work wonders for your budget. Polish your silver tongue and start asking how low merchants can go on the price of something you want. Or, ask them to throw in something else for free, which you could always sell later to save even more.
13. Look for price-matching
When you’re shopping in a brick and mortar store, do a quick check online to see if another store (online or retail) has the same item for less. Then talk to customer service about a price-match offer. Most of the time, they’ll match the price because they still make a profit if you buy the item from them. (See also: Here’s How to Get a Sale Price-Match at 16 Popular Stores)
14. Use cash for bigger items
Don’t listen to anyone that says cash is dead. You may not carry as much of it in your wallet as you used to, put the prospect of a huge wad of cash in hand is very appealing to car dealerships, homebuilders, and anyone selling high-end retail. They’ll offer a cash discount in most cases.
15. Buy when they’re desperate to sell
There are certain times of the month, and the year, that are great for savvy consumers. For example, a car salesperson may have a monthly quota to fill, and you’re more likely to get a great deal on the last day of the month. Same goes for airline tickets, items going out of season, and even gym memberships. (See also: How to Decide the Right Time to Buy Almost Anything)
16. Use loyalty programs and cards
There are loyalty programs that offer discounts and points at virtually every store you shop at. Use them and save. (See also: 9 Store Loyalty Programs That Are Worth It)
17. Shop at unusual hours
Have you ever been grocery shopping at night? You’ll find all sorts of markdowns that were full price just a few hours earlier. You could also try going early in the morning, when items that didn’t sell get one final markdown before leaving the shop floor.
18. When shopping online, go incognito
This has nothing to do with hiding “delicate” purchases. By going incognito, you aren’t saving cookies during your searches. Dynamic pricing uses these cookies to monitor your searches and spending habits, meaning you could be paying more for certain items like airline tickets and hotel rooms based on your search history. Stop the cookies, and you’ll see the prices drop. (See also: 6 Ways to Avoid Sneaky Online Price Changes)
19. Don’t worry about the cosmetic condition of anything
Score major discounts for buying dented, scratched, bruised, and otherwise imperfect items. Does it matter that the fridge has a small ding in the corner? It certainly doesn’t stop it from being a working fridge, and it’s 25 percent off. Same goes for fruit, electronics, and almost anything else.
20. Be nice
Sometimes, kindness is all it takes. Mark Ellwood, author of Bargain Fever, says that “Just being a friendly, nice shopper gets you free stuff,” adding that most sales staff can knock 10 percent off the price instantly if you are polite, helpful, and ask nicely about flexibility on price.
21. Wait for sales
Shopping is just a waiting game that you have to play sometimes. Clothing will go on sale as the season starts to close out. Electronics go on sale when new models come in. Books and blu-rays get discounted once they’re no longer new releases. If you’re prepared to wait, you never have to pay full price.
Many different sites, Google being the main one, offer the option of setting a price alert. Basically, you input the exact item you want, and the lowest price (within reason, of course) that you want to pay. When it drops to that price or lower, you get alerted to buy it.
22. Practice the “Pantry Principle”
Blogger Amanda Brackney coined the term “pantry principle,” and it’s an excellent way to save. The basic premise is to stock up on items you use regularly whenever they go on sale. We all need toilet paper and soap, so when they drop to their lowest price, buy in bulk and save. This way, you’ll never pay full price on items you’ll always need.
23. Use group purchasing power
One of the biggest examples of getting discounts for a group is health insurance. However, that idea spreads way beyond health care. Groupon was founded on this very idea, and you can find multiple sites out there offering discounts when multiple people buy the same item.
24. Use first-time customer offers
Almost every online retailer will lure you in with a first-time customer offer. These savings can range from as little as free shipping, to a whopping 50 percent off. Just register your email, wait for the offer code, and then shop with your discount.
25. Buy gift cards
You can purchase discount gift cards for almost any store. Before you shop, drop by a site like CardPool or GiftCardGranny, and search for the store you want. Discounts range anywhere from 2 percent to 30 percent off. Just remember to check the terms and conditions on each card first for expiration dates and purchase restrictions.
26. When shopping online, sort prices “low to high”
The easiest way to check for deals is to switch from the default sorting (which is usually relevance) to the “low to high” price option when you’re shopping online. You will have to dig through the selection to find what you’re looking for, but apply filters, including four-star reviews on Amazon, and you’ll find some killer discounts.
27. Take advantage of cashback sites
There are a lot of cash-back sites out there to choose from, including Ebates and iBotta. Just do your online shopping as usual, but get paid in cash, credits, or points that you can redeem later for awards and products. (See also: 30+ Cash Back Sites to Earn You Thousands Per Year)
28. Use your birthday
Hey, getting one year older doesn’t have to be all bad. A lot of places, including restaurants, salons, and retailers, will give you a discount or freebie on your birthday. Just be ready for a really annoying song in a restaurant.