Browsing the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper is old news. Let bargain Web sites do all the hard work for you. Sites like eDeals.com and eCoupons.com troll for the best coupons and savings. "Even something like free shipping could mean the difference between a $5 and $15 purchase," said Michael Paso, eDeals.com’s chief operating officer. Leary of being duped? Make sure the site has a seal of accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.
Next time you head to the grocery store, take a second before you grab the biggest package. Sure it’s the biggest, but it may not be the best deal. Often, the middle-sized package costs less per ounce or per unit than the biggest or smallest size, says Teri Gault, founder of thegrocerygame.com. Taking the time to notice a product’s unit-to-dollar ratio can mean big savings in the long term.
Check your credit card statements to see how many rewards "points" you’ve racked up throughout the year-chances are you have more than you think. Visit the rewards Web site and find out if you can convert the points into cash, gift cards or even plane tickets. "Some credit cards double the value of your rewards at specific retailers," said Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Freedom Debt Relief.
Fresh vegetables and fruits account for 19 percent of all thrown away food, says April Lewis-Parks a certified credit counselor and MissMoneyBee.com blogger. The secret is placing them in the correct spot in the fridge instead of on the counter. "Also, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, milk and other perishable goods should never be stored in the refrigerator door," she says.
Although it sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone, Cyber Black Friday is real-and coming up on November 26. "You’ll be able to find coupons for 25-30 percent off versus 10-15 percent off for the rest of the season," says Talya Schaeffer, an account manager at eCoupons.com. "Online retailers are hoping that by offering early discounts, consumers will shop early and often."
Big retailers like Best Buy and Nordstrom have started offering "buy online, pick up in store" options. Save on shipping and more by using online discount codes. Plus, get the instant gratification of taking the item home even sooner, says Sara Dunham, Savings.com community manager. Most often you’ll find web prices are lower, too.
Any bargain hunter knows that meat is expensive. Instead of picking up pre-cut and packaged pieces, buy a whole chicken, roast or side of meat. "They almost always have a much lower per pound price," Dunham said. "Just ask the meat counter to cut it up for you."
This strategy may sound old fashioned, but when you’re done you’ll know exactly where your money going. Write down everything you spend money on for one week. At the end of the week, separate your expenses into different categories like Gas, Grocery/Food, Entertainment, Shopping, Rent, etc. Label envelopes and put a specific amount of money toward each. Once the money is gone you’ll be forced to make the appropriate decisions, says Ornella Grosz, author of Moneylicious: A Financial Clue for Generation Y.
Swapping is in. Organize a book, movie or evening bag swap with your circle of friends, neighbors or colleagues. "Swap specialty dishes with neighbors and friends or trade holiday décor to freshen things up without breaking the bank," says Lisa Reynolds, who works for redplum.com.
Produce isn’t the only thing that’s seasonal; packaged foods are, too. Here is the predicated sales cycle for each calendar month, according to TheKrazyCouponLady.com:Jan/Feb: Diet foods Mar/April: Frozen food May/Jun: Condiments, barbecue sauce July/August: School supplies Sept/Oct: Canned soups, broth, stuffing mix Nov/Dec: Chocolate chips, canned pumpkin, baking ingredients