1. Never pay for shipping
“Before you click ‘purchase,’ always do one last search for free shipping,” says Yahoo! Web Life Expert Heather Cabot. Sites like Retailmenot.com and FreeShipping.org offer thousands of free shipping codes. Avoiding pricey delivery fees adds up to real savings—buy a $250 microwave and save $20 in shipping.
POSSIBLE SAVINGS: $20
2. Cash in your old plastic
I have a habit of forgetting about old gift cards, letting them get tucked away in some old envelope or behind the odd credit card in my wallet. But just because I don’t need anything from Pottery Barn doesn’t mean I have to let the gift go to waste. Instead, Cabot suggests I head to Cardpool.com or PlasticJungle.com to trade in my card for up to 92% its original value; I can opt for cash or credit on Amazon.com. Or you can donate the money to charity: Some sites give you the option to give the value of the card to a nonprofit of your choice.
POSSIBLE SAVINGS: Your unused gift card.
3. Don’t pay full price for gift cards
Use gift card exchange sites to find cards at up to 35% off the original value. Right after the holidays is the best time to check out offers, as the bigger and better ones are more available, says Cabot. For instance, you can buy a $100 Pier 1 Imports gift card on Cardpool.com for about $87--a savings of 13%.
POSSIBLE SAVINGS: $13
4. Reap the rewards of brand loyalty
Each month, a few of my favorite stores are staying in business thanks to a healthy contribution from my paycheck. To take advantage of this type of brand devotion, sign up for discount emails next time you’re in the store, says Rachel Singer Gordon, author of Point, Click, and Save. You will be emailed coupons to use both online and in the store. For instance, you could save 30% off a necklace that was originally $49.50 from The Loft with one of their emailed coupon codes.
POSSIBLE SAVINGS: $14.50
5. Create a digital piggy bank
If you are having some trouble sticking to your savings plan, sign up for a free account on Smartypig. This site helps you set specific goals—i.e. buying a car or going on a vacation—and accomplish them, while potentially earning interest and cash back. Let’s say you have saved $2000 towards a Macy’s gift card for new furniture. When you select the cash back option, you receive 11% to put on the gift card or towards your next goal. As a bonus, it’s easy to share your goal with friends and family, who can make contributions as gifts, says Singer Gordon.
POSSIBLE SAVINGS: $220
6. Get the rest of the crew on board
It seems like a new daily deal site emerges, well, daily. But Singer Gordon suggests taking a look at LivingSocial. When you buy a deal, share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. If three people buy it, you get the product or service for free. “If it’s a good deal, it’s likely that at least three people will cash in,” says Singer Gordon. In the past, the site has offered a deal of $45 for a month of unlimited Bikram yoga, originally valued at $180. For you, it could be free.
POSSIBLE SAVINGS: $45
7. Shop around for gas