More than 10 years on since the last major economic depression, many people have been able to relax some of the belt-tightening measures they took in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
At that time, people slashed their own personal spending dramatically. Costs were increasing while many people were at risk of losing their jobs. Around the world businesses closed, from banks to retailers, leading to widespread redundancies.
To help their money go further, many people turned to coupons and other tricks to help cut their spending. Many also turned to extra jobs (if they could get one) to help increase their income.
Yet, those money saving techniques were forgotten by many. In reality, using these techniques in times of prosperity can make things easier when the economy slows down again.
So here are ways that you can stop paying full price for almost everything.
In some cultures, bartering at a local market is part of everyday life. In fact, you may offend the other person if you don’t try to barter with them. In the western world we often take the price shown in a shop, on a website, or elsewhere as the final offer and just pay it.
However, you will be surprised how many places you can find where it is possible to negotiate the price. Of course, big ticket items like cars and houses are always negotiable. Estate agents and car dealers are known to inflate prices because they expect people to barter.
However, it’s also possible to barter in some high street shops. Buying expensive jewellery? Try your luck at knocking the price down. Sofas, beds, and white goods can also be bartered in some stores.
For it to work you need to be polite about it. You’re dealing with a human being. They’re far more likely to help you if you’re nice to them. Ask “is there anything you can do on the price” and never use the line “but I have been a customer of the store for 10 years”… the sales assistant won’t care.
Instead, draw comparisons in price against other retailers. If you can prove another store is cheaper, you’re more likely to get a discount. Be prepared to walk away, but never walk out in a huff. You’ll look very silly if you come back later when you can’t find a better deal elsewhere. Instead, thank the sales assistant and say you’ll think about it and maybe come back.
Remember that bartering doesn’t always work, but it works more often that you’d think.
Promotions, Coupons and Vouchers
Of course coupons and vouchers are a great way to make money. There are even TV shows about people who take “couponing” to the extreme. You can find them in newspapers, magazines and online.
However, remember to not buy things if you don’t need or want them. A discount isn’t really a saving if you weren’t going to spend the money anyway.
Digital coupons and vouchers can also be found through new mobile apps. In the UK, apps like CheckoutSmart and Shopmium let users claim money back on certain products by taking a photo of their receipt. It works very similarly to a voucher or coupon, but you have to pay money up front.
Similarly, promotional offers like “free trials” can be a good way to get the use you need of a product without having to pay (as long as you remember to cancel your subscription before the trial ends). Free trials can be found for products like contact lens subscriptions and streaming services like Netflix. You can even find these types of offers in sports betting, when brands offer free bets and deposit bonuses to new customers.
Cashback can be acquired in several different ways. Some credit and debit cards pay cashback on your spending everywhere. These are more common in the United States than in Europe, because the European Union has placed restrictions on the amount card companies can charge businesses to take payments. While it succeeded in stopping businesses passing on these large fees to consumers, it also reduces the amount of money that can be paid back to the consumer as cashback.
However, it is still possible to earn cashback on your spending in the UK, although the rates are closer to 0.5% than the 5% seen in the United States.
Cashback can also be earned by shopping online through websites like TopCashback. They earn affiliate commissions from the retailer and then share it with the customer. The rates vary from retailer to retailer but can be anything from 1% to more than 50% of the amount you spend.
Track Prices Online
You can track the prices of products on certain websites to see their historic prices and set alerts in case they dip below a particular price. For example, CamelCamelCamel.com tracks prices of products on Amazon and then emails you if it drops below a threshold that you set.
You can set these alerts on anything you want, but they’re useful to alert you to good times to stock up on household products like toothbrushes and cleaning products. Buying in bulk when the prices is 50% lower means you’ll save a lot of money in the long run.
Compare Prices Online
If you don’t have time to wait to see if a product is going to get cheaper, you can compare its price from different retailers. Comparison sites exist for just about every type of product and service.
Google Shopping can be used for comparing physical items that can be bought from major retailers and small ecommerce businesses alike. In the UK, sites like Money Supermarket also compare quotes from insurance companies and the rates of interest on savings accounts, loans and credit cards.
Stoozing is a term for borrowing money at 0% interest, typically on a credit card with a promotional interest rate, and then paying it back over a period of 12-24 months. In the time that it takes you to pay back the borrowed money, you can earn interest on it in a savings account.
Unfortunately, due to historically low central bank interest rates around the world, the interest rates on savings accounts are currently very low. This means that stoozing doesn’t earn you much any more.
Stoozing is also not for everyone, as you must be disciplined enough to not spend the money you have put away in the savings account.
Combining these options together, it is possible to not pay full price for almost anything. If you can manage to make small savings regularly and over a long period of time, the savings will add up to thousands.