Take the Frugal Living Challenge! Step 11: Do Your Research

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Frugal Living Challenge! Step 11We’re in the homestretch of QuickQuid’s “The Frugal Living Challenge” — there’s only one more month until the end of the year! If you’ve followed the Challenge for the past 10 months and implemented our strategy suggestions, you should currently have saved £2,500. Let’s add another £250 to that total for the month of November by putting our research skills to work. By doing a little research before making purchases, you can save a small bundle. Whether it’s comparing prices between retailers, searching for a coupon code online, scoring a retroactive deal once a sale has passed, or another savvy savings method, these research tips will help you reduce the cost of items you need or want to buy. In turn, this will help you feel a little better about every purchase you make.

1. Compare prices online

Before you buy anything online you should compare an item’s price at various retailers. Prices vary between retailers, and if you catch one that’s having a sale, you can keep more money in your pocket. These days, thanks to sites like Amazon and eBay, you often score big discounts on pricey items if you’re OK with those items being slightly used. If it works just as well, there’s no shame in shaving off a few pounds to scoop up a gently used item as opposed to something brand new.

2. Compare prices online when you’re in a store

A few months ago I purchased a new TV at a popular electronics retailer. The policy at that particular store states that if the online price is lower than the in-store price, the buyer is entitled to the lower price. Luckily for me, the price of the TV was about 10 percent lower online than in-store, which meant instant savings. Many stores will also match another retailer’s price if it’s lower. So if you notice a good price at a retailer that isn’t close by, find a closer retailer with such a policy so you can qualify for the deal.

3. Search for coupon codes

I never buy anything online without first searching for a coupon code. There’s usually a code available for either a percentage off or free shipping, either one of which will save me money. If a code isn’t available online (make sure you’ve dug deep), send a direct message to the retailer via social media and request a code. This won’t work in all instances, but recently I wanted to make a purchase from a small retailer for which I couldn’t find a code. I contacted them via Twitter and within 20 minutes they replied with a 10 percent savings code. Totally made my day.

4. Watch retailers for sales even after you make a purchase

This is a little-known tactic that saved me a bundle on a large furniture purchase I made over the summer. I kept an eye on the site before my order shipped and just a few days after placing the order a 25 percent sitewide sale was in effect. Since the order hadn’t shipped yet, I called the retailer and asked if I qualified for the discount. To my surprised, I did, and I saved a lot of money. Many retailers have a 14-day window to qualify for a new sale even after purchases are made, so it’s in your best interest to watch their website for a sale.

5. Use retailers’ apps

A lot of retailers have jumped on the social media bandwagon, going so far as to create apps that include savings for products. With some apps, you may be able to choose which on-sale items you need to buy and then just show your phone at checkout to deduct the savings.

6. Find what you need from a private seller

Try skipping the big-box retailers and going local. Sites like Craigslist can help you save big on items you may need. Browse the site for items you need and then reach out to the seller. This works particularly well on large items like appliances and cars. For example, I recently sold a stove on Craigslist for far below what it was worth; I just needed to get rid of it. The buyer, however, made a great buy because he was able to save on an almost-new item for which he would have paid retail price otherwise.

7. Learn full-time savings strategies you can implement

You’re doing this right now by reading this blog, but if you consistently read money-saving sites like QuidCorner and Pound Place, you’ll learn lots of everyday short- and long-term savings strategies that you can put to work in every part of your life. Once you learn the ins and outs of saving, you’ll start to have fun with it. And you’ll have a better quality of life because you’ll use more of your hard-earned money for things you want to do, as opposed to what you have to do.

8. Use common sense to strike while the savings are hot

Looking to buy a new appliance, book a flight or rent a new apartment? Sometimes these things can’t wait, but if you have time on your side, do an initial search for prices and compare them. At this point, you can be satisfied with the prices you find, or you can wait a few days or a few weeks to see if they drop. This strategy is particularly helpful around holiday time. Sales are everywhere, and you never know when an amazing deal will pop up. You might just score an incredible discount if you play the waiting game and strike while the savings are hot.

9. Do your homework and pick up the phone

If you’re looking for ways to decrease your monthly expenses like mobile phone, cable TV or utilities, go through your bills line-by-line to ensure that you’re not being charged for anything out of the ordinary. Human error is the cause of most erroneous charges, so it’s worth having a look to make sure everything is in order. If you think you’ve been charged for something that you didn’t authorise or for a higher level of service that you didn’t ask for, pick up the phone and call the company to correct the situation.

10. Ask if there are any savings available

My mother used to tell me, “All you have to do is ask.” That’s often very true, especially with available-but-overlooked savings opportunities. For instance, if you’re in the military or a senior citizen, a retailer may have a discount for which you qualify — but you may not know unless you ask. Furthermore, if you find an item at a store that perhaps isn’t in tip-top shape, there’s no harm in asking the checkout person if they’ll shave a bit off the price. I recently did this at a store where I was buying a picture frame that had a small crack in it. The crack didn’t really bother me, but I figured if I could save a little because it was damaged, why not? It worked. To my delight, the manager reduced the price by 10 percent.

Have even more tips on how to research savings? Let us know in the comments below.

About 

Mikey Rox is an award-winning blogger and journalist whose work has been published by more than 100 regional, national and international publications. Consistently, Rox writes for the personal finance blogs Wise Bread and Money Crashers and lifestyle sites such as FlyLyf and Swagr. Rox lives in New York City with his husband and their two dogs. Follow his OMG! moments on Twitter @mikeyrox.

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