Uncover the best bargains to spend less and get more everywhere you shop.
If you want to pay less every time you pull out your wallet, try these smart strategies on your daily rounds. Learn to shop smart and spend less at the mall, the big-box stores, the gas station, the pharmacy, and at warehouse stores.
Many clothing departments mark down items four to six weeks after introducing a new line. Observe your favorite store’s schedule,
or ask a friendly salesperson about the best times to find deals.
Alterations and dry-cleaning bills add up. If the pants you covet need tailoring or you notice a “dry-clean only” tag, think about whether you’ll really want to pay for those services in the future.
Join store e-mail lists and check your in-box for coupons. Also try searching “printable coupons” and the store name on Google,
and print your findings before you head out.
Politely request a discount if you see a small imperfection, such as a scratch on a leather handbag or a tear in the fabric. Store managers usually give a reduction for flawed merchandise.
If going to the mall is a leisure activity for you and your family, you’re more likely to drop lots of cash at the food court, on a movie, in the arcade or on a new outfit. Train yourself to hit the mall only when you need to make a purchase. Draw up a shopping list and decide which stores you’ll visit—and don’t wander. That way, you won’t be tempted to make an impulse purchase.
Save even more when you’re at a shopping center with these out-of-the-box tips:
"Popular retailers sometimes reward Foursquare app check-ins with big discounts, so I use them whenever I’m shopping. They also allow me to share my location—and the deal—with Facebook and Twitter friends." - Ashley Nuzzo, frugalcouponliving.com
"Ask about early-bird offers, like shopping before 10 a.m., or discount days for special pricing at department stores." - Karen Rodriguez, savingthefamilymoney.com
Spend less by avoiding the dollar bins at stores like Kmart, Target and Walmart.
Think about it: How many of those items do you actually need? Probably none. Steer clear of this impulse zone, which is often placed near the entrance to catch your eye as you walk in.
Target and Walmart post their policies on their Web sites. Walmart, for example, will match any other retailer’s price if
you bring in the ad. Target offers exclusive online printable coupons on its site each week, and most big-box stores accept
coupons printed from the Internet and some even digital coupons from your phone.
Walmart and Target offer hundreds of generic prescriptions for $4 (30-day supply) or $10 (90-day supply). Kmart sells generics
for $5 to $25.
Use big-box stores' price-slashing strategies to your advantage with these tips:
"I take all my big-box store ads to Walmart, where they price-match, saving me time and money on gas. I suggest printing a copy of Walmart’s coupon policy and keeping it in your coupon binder. If you ever get a fussy cashier, you’ll have it as backup." - Melissa Garcia, consumerqueen.com
"Target has a huge toy sale two times a year—in early January and during the summer—when the entire stock is 75 percent off. I fill my closet with a year’s worth of holiday and birthday gifts at once, and I never have to run out for a full-priced gift at the last minute." - Sara Breuninger, dealiciousmom.com
Think dollar store prices couldn't get any lower? Think again:
"Get eight-packs of party hats, plastic tablecloths and colored napkins for $1 each. Since inventory changes daily, make a calendar of events and birthdays, and shop as you see deals." - Teri Gault, thegrocerygame.com
"Don’t forget you can combine manufacturer’s with dollar-store coupons. Grab the store circular and sign up for electronic newsletters online—they often feature ‘$5 off $25’ promotions." - Heather Schisler, passionforsavings.com
"If you spot a newspaper with a great coupon, purchase extra copies at a dollar store." - Sarah Barrand, athriftymom.com
Here’s how three of the major reward programs work.
Combine rewards programs with sales and coupons.
For example, if deodorant is on sale at CVS, use your ExtraCare Bucks and a coupon to score a cheap or free product. Don’t have time to match the sales with coupons? Check sites such as commonsensewithmoney.com.
Most major drugstores have prescription savings cards that give you access to discounts on generic drugs. Check your pharmacy for details.
Use resources available to drugstore customers to save:
"If you shop at Rite Aid, take advantage of the coupons you get for watching commercials on riteaid.adperk.com. Pair them with manufacturers’ coupons to save more." - Shannon Shaffer, forthemommas.com
"Check out the beauty counter at your local drugstore and get to know the cashier who works there. The clerk might have access to additional coupons available for items in the store, and you won’t get caught holding up the line at the front." - Heather Schisler, passionforsavings.com
"I just discovered that you can scan your ExtraCare card at a CVS ExtraCare kiosk more than once per day. Different coupons come out each time." - Melissa Garcia, consumerqueen.com
Sign up to receive e-mail offers from your favortie stores. Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret often email printable coupons for free samples with a purchase.
Learn each chain’s coupon policy:
Learn how to max out your membership benefits:
"BJ’s shoppers might not know that if you buy a multipack, like one with three tubes of toothpaste, you can combine a store and a manufacturer’s coupon for each item in the package." - Shannon Shaffer, forthemommas.com
"Warehouse clubs are my favorite places to shop for big events. They have great prices on quality frozen appetizers, like mini quiches. Plus, I can get enough heavy-duty paper plates and cups for all my guests." - Teri Gault, thegrocerygame.com
"Costco offers gift cards to local and national restaurant and retail chains for 20 percent off. I bought two $50 gift cards to California Pizza Kitchen for $80. The savings could pay for your membership!" - Kitty Rosu, coupondivas.com
Develop a smart-shopping plan of action to save more every week:
"Put a few blinkies—the coupons in the small boxes hanging off store shelves—in your coupon binder until the item goes on sale." - Ruth Dennison, shoppingtipsandtricks.com
"Shop for what you’ll use, not what you need now. Then when you see a great deal, purchase enough to last until the next sale." - Kelly Thompson and Kasey Trenum, time2saveworkshops.com
"If they know you, managers might share coupons and samples. Once, my store manager gave me the diaper coupons that came with a big shipment." - Keri Lyn Renner, shesaved.com
Shop farmers markets and score discounted produce all summer long with these handy tips:
"Form a relationship with your local farmers and let them know that you’ll take any ‘need to sell quickly’ produce off their hands at a discounted price. Then use it right away or freeze. I often buy extra zucchini for bread and muffins." - Erin Chase, 5dollardinners.com
"Vendors often are willing to engage in old-fashioned bartering. Try trading your stockpile items, including cleaning supplies, paper products and toiletries, for fresh fruits and vegetables." - Kelly Thompson and Kasey Trenum, time2saveworkshops.com