Budget Tips You May Be Overlooking

Most of us spend a third of our time or more working to produce income.  But there are two sides to a budget, and these budget tips will help on the expense end of it.

Time is the most valuable commodity we have.  It’s become almost second nature to include in our evaluation of income and expenses how each element puts a demand on our time.  So it’s easy, especially when it comes to spending, to just pay a little more to save time.  More often than not, we are not even aware of opportunities to save money because – – you guessed it – – it takes to much time to either find out about them or too much time to use them.  I’ve used these and know that they work, take little or almost no time, and on average save me 10% to 30% on my purchases.  Over the course of a year, that really adds up.

Budget Tip 1: Coupons (Don’t Cringe!)

Using coupons to save money isn’t new.  Your grandmother did it decades ago.  Back then, it was the old clip and file routine.  TIME consuming, and a hassle.  Now, there are a wide variety of discount and coupon sites.  Groupon is one of the best known, but others such as fyvor.com offer either general coverage or focus on certain kinds of products.  Most allow you to set up alerts, so what you’re looking for comes right to your smartphone with the coupon or discount code ready to use.  The savings on these sites can be huge.  Last fall, I saved nearly $2000 (yes, TWO THOUSAND!) on a laser eye surgery that wasn’t covered by insurance.  So take a lazy Sunday afternoon, visit some of the sites and set up alerts for the items on your to-buy list.

budget tips

Budget Tip 2: Hidden Discounts

Very few people are aware that many retailers have unpublished allowable discounts available to those who ask.  Some are very straight forward.   For example, Home Depot has a current in-store policy that all department associates are empowered to use.  All you have to say is,”hey I can get this same item at so-and-so for quite a bit less.  Can you give me a discount?”  Say it politely and with a smile, because just because the associate is empowered to give it doesn’t mean they have to.  I don’t ask for small purchases, but on literally every large purchase I’ve made with them over the last year I’ve gotten some discount – – just for asking.

Extra tip on this one:  If you frequent the same stores on a regular basis, take the time to get to know the staff.  People appreciate your friendliness, and when the time comes when you almost conversationally ask for a discount, you’re much more likely to get it.

budget tips

Budget Tip 3:  Know the Competition

So it’s time for a new laptop or tablet?  WARNING:  There are friendly, good looking guys inside that Best Buy or Frys or where ever you shop for electronics.  They are trained to smooth you gently into buying not only what you thought you wanted, but what the store has great margins on and wants to sell more of.  When it’s time for a purchase that’s not one you do every day, you definitely want to know competitive pricing before you go.  This is the time to go online to any of many major retailing sites and see what the item is selling for.  Plus, there are reviews that help to steer you away from an item you might have thought was hot but in reality is an over-priced lemon.  Once you’re armed with this information, you now have physical proof (you printed it out, right?) that supports your request for a price match or discount.  It’s worth a few minutes to not only get a good product, but save money that’s much happier to stay in your bank account than in the store’s receipts.

Extra tip on this one:

Don’t be shy about asking the store to throw in (for free, of course) extras.  Once they know you’re committed to buying the big item, they’ll almost always include an extra or two.  Example:  You buy a new phone, and ask for a car charger or case or screen protector.  It’s amazing what you can get, gratis, if you just ASK.

Budget Tip 4:  Doing Sales The Right Way

I love to shop.  Yes.  Clothes and shoes, oh yes.  Give me a session in my favorite stores and it’s therapy.  Unfortunately, it’s probably more expensive that paying for a REAL therapist!  But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do sales.

Wrong way:  You head to your favorite store and luck is with you.  There’s a sale!   That’s about like Russian Roulette, you may or may not get lucky.  Or, you know there are great sales in January and July, so you keep most of your volume shopping to those times.  While the latter is better, it’s still needs tuning to make it work for you.

Right way:  Knowing that there are sales in January and July, put it in your calendar with a reminder to call the store or mall a couple weeks ahead of their normal sale start dates.  The  objective is to find out exactly when the sales begin THIS year.  Then, go shopping the night before the sale officially starts.  In almost all cases, especially with seasonal clearance sales, the items are marked down in advance.  The racks are already there the night before, already marked down and waiting for you.

Budget Tips Are Just Shopping Hacks

So there you have it.   Don’t think of these tips as just passing ideas.  They’re more like useful hacks, shopping hacks, that help you keep more of your hard-earned dollars, pounds, yen, or euros in your pocket – – right where they belong.

Photos:  Coupons Carol Pyles  Girl w/money Tax Credits

Linda Allen

I'm a serial entrepreneur, with a resume that makes me look like a Jane of all trades. Pretty sure we are all reluctant Messiahs, travelling through life planting seeds where ever we can. Hopefully, most of mine have been good ones! MA from Miami University (Ohio, not Florida), BA from Cal State.

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