Keeping an eye on your finances doesn’t have to mean giving up all the things and experiences that you love. Of course, having at least a rough budget and making sure not to spend more than you earn are keys to keeping your wealth growing. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to keep yourself from making any fun purchases or that you have to always go for the cheapest brand when buying something. Instead, use a few of these tips to buy what you love without spending quite as much.
Maximize your rewards points. Chances are, you have a credit card or checking account that earns you some rewards points. If you haven’t been maximizing the use of your points, start paying attention! For example, Citi’s ThankYou rewards points allow you to book travel, order gift cards or redeem points for all kinds of items. If you are moving and need a new TV, cashing points in for some Best Buy gift cards could be a great way to cut down on the cost of your new purchase. Similarly, household items like kitchen utensils are available for purchase, meaning you can get the things you want with less of a cash outlay.
Also, if you’re making a large purchase at a retail store for items like clothing or furniture, sometimes it can save you money to open a retailer-specific credit card. Not only can you save money initially, but you can also receive special cardholder offers or discounts throughout the year.
Comparison shop. It goes without saying that shopping around will save you money, especially on larger purchases. For example, Bed Bath and Beyond lets you use 20-percent-off coupons on nearly any purchase you make. If you have been eyeing a nice new set of pots and pans or even some quality towels that you want (but maybe don’t NEED!), it’s worth checking whether they sell what you’re looking for since prices may be higher at department stores or even online. Google’s price comparison tool is another way to try to hone in on the cheapest place to buy what you’re looking for.
Get creative. eBay and Craigslist are great places to find the best online shopping deals for new or next-to-new items at a fraction of the cost. Accessories for electronics (think iPad covers and headphones) are especially cheap on these sites when compared to other retailers. Additionally, brand name furniture that is only a year or two old is often listed by people whose living situation has unexpectedly changed — they have great pieces but no use for them and their loss can be your gain.
Be flexible. Often when booking travel, the name of the game is being willing to put up with some inconveniences. Flight prices often drop considerably when you are willing to include a few layovers. Also, taking public transportation or shuttles instead of cabs can really trim the cost of a fun vacation. If you can take an extra day or two off of work, there’s no question that trading time for money will leave your wallet feeling fuller.
Bundle services and re-think your contracts. Many digital TV providers, including AT&T, offer discounts on their services if you order them bundled with other ones like home phone or Internet services. You may also be able to save more by agreeing to a longer-term contract, something that might make sense if you’re very confident that your needs won’t change over two years. These providers also tend to offer lower prices to new customers. For example, Comcast offers better-priced deals to new customers for the first 12 months, so if you are currently with a more expensive provider, it might be worth looking into whether making a switch to a different provider could help you cut your monthly costs. Just make sure you’re aware of the terms of your existing contracts so you don’t cancel only to be hit with early termination fees.
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