• Okay so here’s the deal. I’m sure that by now you’ve been inundated with money saving tips telling you to pinch here and pinch there. Of course, if you bring your own lunch to work, make your own coffee, buy used items and skip going to the movies you’re going to save money. They are all generally good ideas but unfortunately call for you to sacrifice something you like or love. It’s sometimes a necessary evil but where’s the fun in that? So, I put together a list of ways to save money without having to sacrifice quality or having to give anything up. The old saying still holds true, “a dollar saved is a dollar earned.” So, check out the list below:

    1.Promotion Codes – Before you complete any purchase online, do a quick “coupon code” or “promotion code” search for that website to search for percentages off, free shipping, or other savings. RetailMeNot is usually a pretty good one. Use the most current codes and be prepared to try a few in order to find one that works. This is of course after you’ve done your research to make sure that you’ve already found the best price for the item you are buying.

    2. Look at all your bills for automatic increases – Often cable companies, home security systems and utility companies institute price bumps without notifying the client, or sneak a cost in somewhere on your bill in the tiniest font they can find. If you have your bills on auto-pay you may not catch it right away. So look monthly and call companies on it when you catch it. Funny, how if you tell them that you want to discontinue service or may switch to another provider, they find a way to work with you.

    3. Mislabeled Items – Ebay, Craigslist, and other classified ads may have items that are listed below their actual value. Look for items that people are selling out of necessity. I usually type in “Must Sell” in my search for an item. Many people also misspell the name brands, so when you search try typing in a few versions of the name/company. Remember some people just simply don’t know what they have. If you have an area of expertise then you’re in luck and can often find bargains either for yourself or for resale. Just be careful, if it’s too good to be true then it may be stolen and ignorance is not an alibi.

    4. Always Ask for a Discount – Nothing ventured is nothing gained. I had a grandfather who used to embarrass me and would ask for a “break on the price” everywhere we went. Even at supermarkets and other retail stores. To my surprise, sometimes they would give him 5-10 percent off just for asking. They may have a promotional discount (military, senior, AAA, etc.) that you may not be aware of. Some people tell me they’re too shy to ask or don’t have that in their personality. To them I say if you need the money a few extra dollars in your pocket could cure that very quickly. It’s all about trial and error. If you don’t ask you don’t get!

    5. Check your Receipt – On average, I catch errors in about one out of every one hundred receipts that I check. Sometimes they’re significant if it’s on a large purchase. I’d like to give the vendors the benefit of the doubt and say that it was done in error, but sometimes I wonder. How many people have they preyed upon and how often have they gotten away with it? Supermarkets are notorious for this and will often blame it on price tags that have not been updated. Be adamant that they honor the prices that are quoted.

    6. Steer Clear of Impulse Buying – Many of us just wing it and go down the aisles of a supermarket to see what we might need. That’s what retailers are counting on and they arrange their aisles accordingly. They have an entire team that conducts research to find out how to grab the consumers’ attention to trigger impulse buying. Avoid this by making a shopping list of what you need after you’ve made sure that you’ve exhausted the supply you have at home. I’ve bought many items simply to discover that I have a new unopened package sitting at home. Now I have to waste gas to return it or let it sit and get old.

    7. Bring Your Own Bags – I keep some sturdy grocery bags in my car. Often stores will give you 5-10 cents per bag. It may not sound like a lot but it adds up. Also, it’s good for the environment. So, it’s a win-win situation.

    8. Borrow or Rent – Instead of specialty or short-term use items such as books, tents, ladders, and other equipment, it’s usually a better idea to rent or burrow those items. Often you may only use it once or for a short period and then just leave it sitting around simply to take up space. Another reason to borrow rather than buy is that you may find out that you don’t want, like or need the item anymore. So borrow or rent and you can take it back!

    9. Avoid Peer Pressure – This is often the biggest cause of “day after spending regrets.” Usually it happens when you’re in a big group of people where you’re pressured into doing and buying things you normally wouldn’t care to do or buy. But everyone else is doing it so you join in and spend. The other comes from having a “high-roller” friend who likes to live outside of his/her budget. Don’t come in to save their expensive day. Don’t get caught up in the pressure and keep focused on your own long term goals. Your worries of being a party pooper will soon be overshadowed when you’re the only one who can afford to buy a house in which you can throw your own party.

    10. Sell What You Don’t Need – Money sitting around is money wasted. Jump on the internet or use your local classified section to get rid of things you no longer need. I assure you someone out there is looking for the very item that you want to discard. Getting rid of clutter is not only therapeutic but you’re also making money while helping someone else who wants your discards.

    As you can see, the common thread in saving money with all of the tips listed above is preparation and planning. When you’re out on a trip or in a jam and have no choice but to pay premium prices for certain items we all understand that you can’t be too picky. If you’re out and about and low on gas, you may not be able to drive around looking for the discount gas station you would normally frequent in your neck of the woods. However, when time is on your side, there’s no excuse for not taking the extra step to pick up money, which is simply lying around for the taking. The cool thing is that you get immediate gratification for your efforts with instant money in your pocket. Who doesn’t love that?