Tips on looking for bargains, both online and offline

Category: Frugality Published: Monday, 05 October 2015 Written by Web Master

Everyone loves a bargain. But the fact is, in order to get the best deals out there, you need to put in some effort. The best bargain hunters spend hours searching for coupons, comparing prices, and becoming well-informed shoppers. Are you willing to put in the work? If so, you can expect to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

We are all pretty careful about large purchases such as homes and cars. After all, even a 1 or 2 percent discount on such items can amount to huge savings. But at the same time, many of us don't put in the effort to hunt for bargains when it comes to smaller items, such as paper, pens, food, or even coffee. And while it might not seem worth your time to worry about small ticket items, you will ultimately end up spending a lot more money if you are not in the habit of searching for a bargain, regardless of the item you are shopping for.

Take office items, for example. You probably don't think twice about buying things like paper clips, pencils, or index cards. But keep in mind, such items have a long, long, shelf life. Therefore, it is wise to wait until there is a huge sale, and then purchase those items in bulk. For the most part, office supplies don't take up much space, and most of us have plenty of closet space in our offices. I used this tactic myself, and when I did the match, I was able to save over 20 dollars on a recent order for office supplies. These savings came from bulk ordering, taking advantage of sales, and using online coupons to shave off several dollars off each item in my basket.

Bargains can also be found everywhere when it comes to food. Now, I am the last one to advocate purchasing low-quality food, but surprisingly, you can often save quite a bit of cash on food without sacrificing quality. Take generic items, for example. In many cases, the item in question will have come from the same factory as a much more expensive, brand alternative. This isn't always the case, but for the savings you can realize, you should definitely experiment with generic items. Chances are, you'll find that the generic brand is just as good as the brand item you were paying much more for.

Joining discount clubs such asĀ Sam's Club or Costco is a no-brainer. The thing that holds many people back is the membership fee you must pay. But the fee is usually something around $60, and if you're a smart shopper, you should save at least that much in your first month alone.

Now, let's take a look at ways to save money online. For anything other than everyday items that I need right away, I usually use the Internet for my purchases. I use a two-step approach in getting the best deals out there.

The first thing I do is research multiple merchants to get a general idea of which merchant routinely provides the lowest prices. I would bookmark and categorize such vendors so it's easy to use them in the future. For example, for contact lenses, I know Lens.com consistently has low prices, so I would already have them bookmarked. Similarly, for vitamins, I have Pureformulas bookmarked.

Then, when I am shopping, I would go to those merchants I have bookmarked, and add the products I want in my basket. When I'm ready to check out, I will then begin hunting for coupons. You can find online coupons from multiple sources, but if you don't have one already, you can simply search for them online, the same way you'd search for anything else on the Internet. I typically type in the name of the store + the word "coupon" and find plenty of results to sift through. Once you find a coupon you like, you will typically need to copy down a coupon code and paste it into a field in the shopping card. Once you enter the information, the discount will be automatically applied to your order.

There is also a vibrant used market online. Sites like Glyde, for example, sell plenty of used electronic items such as video games at a significant discount. While new items are always nice, I don't see the point of buying new when you have used options for many products.

If you have an online store that you shop frequently at, it is also a good idea to purchase second-hand gift cards for that store. This can quickly save you an extra 5 - 10% whenever you shop at the store. Most second-hand gift cards sell at a pretty big discount, so this is definitely an avenue you want to explore for any merchants you use often.

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