Recently, we discussed several different ways that you can save money to move house. Included in this were several important financial techniques that can be used for more than just preparing to move to a new home, such as creating (and sticking to) a budget, clearing your debts, and making sure you get your credit record in order.
These are some of the most basic underlying principles for ensuring you have your financial affairs in order. They’re a useful strategy to guide you in decision making.
But as you set your budget, and either try to pay off debt or put money aside in your savings account, it is important to have good tactics to implement the strategy. That’s why knowing some tips and tricks that can help you cut the cost of almost anything you buy, will keep your plans on track.
By implementing all of these tips and tricks, you may get away with never having to pay full price for anything.
Step 1. Compare Prices
Your first step to avoiding paying full price is to compare what different retailers (or other businesses) are offering. This can apply to everything from the cost of your weekly grocery shopping through to flights, hotel rooms and insurance.
In decades gone by, comparing prices required a lot of leg work. You’d have to schlep from store to store or call several businesses to get a quote. Today, you can simply use online comparison services to check prices for just about anything.
For general physical goods, Google Shopping offers comprehensive results and reviews of each retailer. For financial products like credit cards and insurance, MoneySuperMarket offers comparisons on most categories in the UK, while US consumers will need to use a few different sites and services.
Sites like CamelCamelCamel will even let you compare prices on Amazon between what’s on offer today and the prices listed in the past. This allows you to see whether you’re getting a good deal or if you should wait for it to come down.
Step 2. Look for Free Alternatives
Sometimes, there are free alternatives to the product or service you are looking at. For example, drinking tap water instead of bottled water will result in an almost 100% saving. Walking and cycling are also free alternatives to driving, public transport and Uber.
If you enjoy listening to music, free streaming services like YouTube Music and Spotify are a way you can play your favourite songs without having to spend anything.
For gamers, there are numerous free-to-play alternatives to even the most popular paid-for games. For those that enjoy playing card games, PokerStars’ free-to-play version packs in all of the same features but without having to wager real money.
Similarly, Fortnite is an incredibly popular free-to-play battle royale game with the same quality features and graphics you’d get from a AAA console title.
Step 3. Find Discounts and Coupons
If there are no free alternatives or the ones you’ve found aren’t suitable, then it’s time to start looking for discounts, vouchers and coupons that can help bring the price down.
Retailers may run their own promotions, temporarily discounting the price of products either to clear stock or as a loss leader to encourage customers inside. You may see these in promotions on TV, print media, or online, or you may have to visit the store to find out what’s on sale.
Manufacturers also issue their own coupons to get consumers to try out their products. They may print these in a newspaper, magazine, or make them available online. You’ll often find these coupons are released for new or updated products and used as a sort of “free sample” to show the customer its quality.
Several apps, including Shopmium and CheckoutSmart offer digital versions of this. They list discount and free product coupons. When you find one you want, you buy it as normal from the shop or supermarket and take a photo of the receipt. The app then reimburses you for the cost (or a proportion of the cost) of the product.
For food, many supermarkets also mark down prices towards the end of the day when products are about to expire. Buying these can yield huge savings and you can freeze most products to make them last much longer.
Step 4. Earn Cashback
Sometimes you can’t find a discount or a coupon, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price. You can earn cashback as a way to bring down the overall cost. You can do it in a few different ways.
Firstly, cashback sites offer rebates on the money you spend in a number of different online retailers, covering everything from groceries to hotels. You need to create an account with them, then visit the cashback site before the retailer’s website. The retailer will then pay the cashback site a commission on the sale, which it will share with you.
When cashback sites don’t have the retailer you’re planning to buy from, a cashback credit card can still earn you some money back. Cashback rates have been slashed in recent years, but even 0.5% is still better than nothing at all.
Loyalty schemes that allow you to earn points for everything you buy in a particular store can also help you earn a small amount of cashback too. Usually, you have to spend the cashback in that company’s outlets, but if you are planning to do that anyway, it means you can keep more cash in your pocket.
You can also double up with both types of cashback where it is available, and you can also sometimes combine coupons, discounts, and cashback to compound the savings.
Step 5. Stooze
Like cashback, stoozing has become less lucrative in recent years, but it is an option when you can’t earn cashback from a credit card.
Stoozing is the process of borrowing money at 0% (usually via a credit card) and keeping the money in a savings account to earn interest. So, if you are spending £1,000 on a product, you could put the money on a 0% credit card, put the cash in a savings account and earn interest on that £1,000 until the 0% promotional period ended.
This method requires a good credit rating, discipline to not spend more than you would have anyway, and attentiveness to make sure you pay off the card before the 0% interest period ends. But, if you have all these attributes and can earn 2% from a savings account, you’d get £20 back on a £1,000 purchase for each year the money stayed in the account.
While not every method is available for each purchase, you’ll almost always be able to use at least one. Therefore, it’s possible to not pay full price for almost everything you buy.