Here are a few ways I do this:
1. I negotiate non-essential bills. Every year, we get a notice that our cable television bill is increasing. Our budget is set. If the cable bill increases, then we have to take money out of the amount budgeted for groceries or savings. Yes, we enjoy having cable television - especially during college football and basketball seasons - but not at the expense of eating or saving. So, every year, I call the cable company and tell them we will cancel our subscription unless they give us the same price we currently have. Every year, they do. I do the same with our newspaper subscription and our cell phone carrier. These are luxuries that we have worked into our budget and if they become too expensive, we will have to cancel them.
2. I visit retailmenot before I go shopping. This site compiles current and valid coupon codes for almost every place I shop so I don't miss a promotion.
3. I sign up for emails from my favorite stores so I can get coupons and notifications of sales. I also participate in retailer reward programs like Pampers and Kellogg's Family Rewards. I enter codes and/or have my grocery store cards linked to the programs so I earn points. I typically wait until holiday time and redeem my points for free photo gifts like Christmas cards and photo books that are normally too expensive for me to purchase.
4. I don't pay for magazine subscriptions. I love to get magazines in the mail, but I don't like having to pay $20 a year for each of them. I find discounted and free subscriptions offers online. I also visit Recyclebank to earn points to redeem for free magazine subscriptions.
5. I comparison shop. The internet makes this a fairly easy task.
6. I ask retail stores if they will match a competitor's price or take a competitor's coupon.
7. I learn stores' coupon policies. Did you know that many retail stores will let you use multiple or expired coupons even though the small print on the coupon says they won't? I didn't either, until I asked!
8. I am willing to walk away. This works well with big ticket items like appliances and cars. If the
price isn't quite as low as you wanted, tell the sales person that, thank them for their time, and start to leave. If there is wiggle room in the price, the sales person will offer you a lower price. We did this with our most recent car purchase. We were fortunate that we did not need a new car. We just wanted a bigger car for our bigger family. We gave our offer to the sales person and said when you are ready to sell this car and this price, give us a call. A few weeks later, they called, and we got the car at the price we were willing to pay.
9. I buy items when they go on sale at the end of the season. For example, each Halloween, we make bags of goodies to hand out to trick or treaters. These bags consist of spider rings, stickers, and pencils that I bought the previous November for pennies. If I paid retail for these goodies, I'd have gone way over budget!
10. I ask for educator discounts. I ask the stores I frequent and the utility companies we use if they have educator discounts or special programs for educators. Surprisingly, many of them do!
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