Discount Secrets and Common Sense
In The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker says “Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.”
This is one of the reasons why the second wealthiest person in the world, Warren Buffett, still lives in the five bedroom house he bought in 1957 for $31,500 and, as of 2012, still drives a Cadillac he bought “six or seven years ago.” This is one of the reasons why, supposedly, Jay Leno and his wife live only on his stand-up comic income and save all his income from The Tonight Show.
Of course, you can claim their financial success is due solely to their enormous income, but we can name as many high-earners who are in financial ruin.
Whether you’re flush with cash or live on a budget, never pay more than you must. It simply doesn’t make sense. The uber rich, such as Oprah Winfrey, even look for discounts. If you’re not already doing so, mirror what the “smart money” is doing.
While you may think that looking for a discount is like looking for hit single from a retired Spice Girl, it’s actually quite easy, especially with today’s technology.
Shop the Sales Section
This one isn’t so much a secrete as it is a strategy. There’s a sales section in almost every store. Ask a store rep when the next season is coming out and back into the sales. Spring styles are hitting the stores right now, so you will see a migration of the late winter items to the sales racks. Just as shopping at Nordstrom Rack and other outlet stores can be hit or miss, sales sections are the same. You may be as lucky as a Shamrock on March 17th, however, if you’re searching for an odd item or are an odd size you just may find the pot of gold.
Stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, The Gap, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and almost any other store you can think of all have sections selling out-of season or discontinued items. These are gold mines that just require a little creativity, flexibility and forethought. Do a little window shopping and come back a few weeks later or check online to see if the item has been dropped in price.
Ask for the Discount
Make the sales person your BFF. Ask them about promotions or discounts. If there is a particular item you want, ask them how you can get it cheaper. Many of us have smart phones in our pockets or purses, use them to check if the retailer has any coupons/promotions. Sales people at smaller, local stores have more negotiating power. Some businesses, such as car sales, expect to negotiate. Practice negotiating with these folks, then take your skills to your boss and negotiate a raise.
The big kicker here is getting to know the sales reps. Chat them up and become friendly, especially at the stores you like to frequent. Once you have established a good personal relationship with them, ask them, “when is their store’s next Friends & Family day?” This is a day when typically shoppers get big discounts. We have a friend who works for Banana Republic and when invited we shop at 50% off, 4 times a year. Can you guess when we do most of our clothes shopping?
You will ask for a discount more often than you’ll receive it, but it will be worth it when you get it.
Get Savvy With Search
The consumer has the power these days. Research the item you want online, compare prices and hunt for the best deal. With knowledge comes power, but as G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” Once you know the fair price of what you want and competing deals go to the competition and take advantage of their “lowest price guarantee”.
Many companies, such as Expedia, Home Depot, Best Buy and Toys “R” Us, offer a “lowest price guarantee”. Searching for these is worth the effort. Make sure the lowest price offer is the lowest available. Some companies try the good ol’ bait and switch.
Two sites that we like right now are PriceGrabber.com, where you can search for products and they provide the price and FreePriceAlerts.com, which is a browser add-on that gives you pop ups when you are shopping if they find a better price.
G.I. Joe was right.
Sign up for email alerts and push notifications for sales from your favorite retailers. Bed Bath & Beyond now sends us a 20% text coupon each month in addition to the one we receive via snail-mail. We only use these when we need them, but we never pay the full price for anything at BBBY. United, Frontier and Hotels.com offer the same service.
One of the best tactics here is to fill your cart up with items you may want, although don’t purchase them right away. Let them sit for a few weeks and you will start to see offers come in your email to buy those items at an extra 10-50% off or even go on sale if they weren’t already. This is a tactic that celebrity comedian, Margaret Cho, spoke about on the So Money Show with Farnoosh Torabi.
Zoomingo is a pocket-sized personal shopper for your purse. The Zoomingo smart phone app helps you find local shopping deals at your favorite stores, including Macy’s, Walmart, Radio Shack, Staples, Walgreens and others. Customize Zoomingo to search for products and services that meet your particular needs.
Another great tool is Cartwheel by Target. This app is specific to Target and allows you to check out current and daily deals while you are shopping in the store to use immediately.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to not pay full price. If you can’t get a discount on something, evaluate if you truly need it because the best way to save money is to simply not spend it.