This is the second part in our series on saving money. Today’s focus is personal shopping expenses, a category that encompasses a large amount of spending for some, including clothing, home furnishings and other non-essentials. Although eliminating these purchases is preferable (whenever possible), anyone interested in cutting expenses can make big strides by comparison shopping. With the advent of the Internet, a once tedious job of walking or driving around from store to store has been replaced with the ease and convenience of shopping at any time (day or night) without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Here are several ideas that can help you save substantial amounts of money:
Use Comparison Shopping Portals – Most major search engines have “comparison shopping” portals. Be sure to visit Google Shopping or Yahoo! Shopping when you’re initially researching the cost of a product. Other shopping portals include: BizRate.com, Nextag.com, Shopzilla.com and Pricegrabber.com. Be sure to not only compare the retail cost, but shipping and other fees.
Choose Retail Outlet Stores – There are many large outlet stores that sell not only clothing, but appliances and furniture. In most cases, the goods are brand new, but they are out-of-favor (or in excess inventory) and the merchants need to clear them out for new products. Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx are a few examples. Overstock.com is another example that primarily operates online.
Take Advantage of Mail-In Rebates – After you buy a product with a rebate, don’t wait to fill out the form and mail it. Procrastinating until later often means a missed deadline. Mark a calendar for the expected return date and follow up with the rebate company, if it fails to arrive.
Shop at Online Discount Sites – Save up to 25% by using the free coupon site Ebates – where it pays to shop online. Nearly any store you name offers a certain percentage off for shopping through Ebates, including Target, Avon, JCPenney, Kohl’s and The Body Shop.
Search for Coupons and Deals: Check for coupons in the mail that may apply to your daily shopping habits. Clipping coupons from the newspaper continues to be a great way to rack up savings. There are also a wide variety of coupon and deal sites around the web. If you know what product you’re looing for (or have a specific retailer in mind), do a Google search for “retailer or product name coupon.” You’re likely to find a list of options. Deal-of-the-day services are another great choice (i.e., Groupon, Living Social)
Bidding and Auction Sites: You can find amazing deals on sites like eBay (depending on the product).
You can live comfortably and still make ends meet if you take advantage of some of these tips. Proper budgeting is still necessary and spending limits should be in place, but when you consider your personal shopping expenses, be sure to take advantage of the numerous savings options that are available.
* Problems with debt? Consider a debt settlement program…