Price is often a suggestion rather than a hard-and-fast number. Human society has been built on the barter system, negotiation and haggling — it’s just not in our DNA to pay full price. After all, what we save on one item can be used elsewhere.
One tip that I personally use to get a lower price when I’m shopping at Walmart, Target or Best Buy is to always check online to see if the item is cheaper anywhere else — these retailers will match the price.
For even more saving tips, I turned to the experts to get their insights on some of the best strategies for getting a lower price on anything and everything. From cars and electronics to cellphone plans, here’s what today’s personal finance thought leaders had to say about saving big on your purchases.
Last updated: Nov. 18, 2019
Take Advantage Of Online Discount Guides and Retailers
Many personal finance bloggers and entrepreneurs believe they can find lower prices by using online discount guides and online retailers.
“Tom’s Guide is my go-to source for finding the best deals for electronics, especially televisions and home entertainment systems,” said John Rampton, founder and CEO of Calendar. “The guide sends me alerts when there is a price drop so I can act quickly.”
Jon Bradshaw, CTO of Appointment.com, swears by Brad’s Deals emails to find good sales.
“Brad’s Deals delivers some great buys on clothing and shoes, like name-brand athletic and running shoes, as well as outdoor accessories,” he said. “I get updates in my inbox and can easily click on the deal and go straight to the retailer’s site to get the discounted merchandise.”
Chalmers Brown, CTO of Due, said that TigerDirect.com is his go-to site for discount electronics, including laptops, mobile devices and desktop computers.
“They have great deals and special discounts on new and refurbished tech equipment,” he said.
Install Price Tracker Tools To Get Lower Prices on an Assortment of Products
“There are various different extensions and plug-ins to web browsers that […] will monitor the price of specific items over time, and then alert you when the price has dropped to a new low,” said Logan Allec, CPA, personal finance expert and owner of the financial site Money Done Right. “This is an awesome tool for products like computers that randomly have steep drops on their market price, and so it could save you a great deal of money.”
Some price tracking tools you can use include CamelCamelCamel, Honey and SlickDeals.
Shop at Dollar Tree
“Save money on school and office supplies, kitchen items, party stuff and much more by shopping at Dollar Tree — not Dollar Store or all of the others, but Dollar Tree where everything is $1,” said Patrina Dixon, author, podcast host, international speaker and founder of It’$ My Money.
If You're a Current or Former Military Member, Use Any Discounts You're Eligible For
Take advantage of lower pricing opportunities that are exclusive to you.
“As a member of the military, I am able to save a lot of money through military discounts,” said Ryan Guina, founder of The Military Wallet. “These discounts are common at a lot of restaurants and national retailers, and for many products and services. It has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. On top of that, many companies offer discounts or even free meals around military holidays.”
Check Out the Corporate Discounts You Can Get Through Your Employer
“If you work with a large corporation, they often offer discounts on cell phone bills, car insurance and gym memberships,” said Craig Bailey, financial advisor and president of Green Financial Solutions. “Individuals should check with their HR department to see what discounts their employer offers.”
Use Your Affiliations To Score Insurance Discounts
“When you are buying insurance, check to see if the insurance company offers any discounts if you’re a member of an organization they are affiliated with. They’re often called affinity discounts,” said Jim Wang, founder of Wallet Hacks. “For example, GEICO offers discounts to people who are members of various organizations that include alumni associations, fraternities and sororities, professional organizations and federal employees.”
Save Even More: How To Save Money on All Your Monthly Expenses and Bills
Another Way To Get a Lower Price on Car Insurance Is To Pay For a Full Year Upfront
“Pay your auto insurance premiums annually, if that’s an option,” said Justin Pritchard, a fee-only CFP in Montrose, Colorado, and founder of Approach Financial, Inc. “I recently had the option to do so and I saved around $200 compared to the total monthly premiums I would have paid. If you have funds available, it can make sense to prepay for the year, in part because you’re probably not earning much on that money in the bank. Although it might be painful now, the savings are meaningful, and you enjoy the next 12 months without having to make that payment. That could be a helpful bonus for your cash flow if you’re concerned about a recession or layoffs.”
Save On Your Cellphone Plan by Switching Providers or Using Less Data
Cellphone plans can get expensive very fast, especially when you start adding family members each month. However, this must-have doesn’t have to break the bank.
“Check to see if there is an MVNO — mobile virtual network operator — such as Cricket Wireless, which offers a cheaper plan while still using the same network you currently use,” said Lance Cothern, personal finance expert and founder of Money Manifesto.
Keeping your data usage in check is another way to pay less.
“Check your data usage and see what you’re actually using,” said Jake Allen, founder of MoneyByJake.com. “If you’re not using all of your data, you’re probably overpaying. If you find yourself constantly going over your data limit, make sure to connect to Wi-Fi whenever possible.”
Use Smart Hacks To Save On TV and Streaming Services
“There are a few strategies you can employ to save money on your TV bill or streaming services,” said Kate Braun, co-founder of DollarSanity. “I’d suggest starting at your local library, where you can usually find a wide variety of DVD shows and movies to check out for free. There are also a variety of safe and legal streaming sites, like Tubi and Vudu, that are free to use but ad-supported. Finally, if the shows you want are only available via paid services, only keep one subscription at a time. Instead of paying for Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video all at once, finish the shows you want to watch on one service, and then suspend your subscription and move on to the next. This method is binge-watcher-approved!”
Negotiate With Your Internet Provider
“If you know your monthly rate is likely to go up, give your internet provider a call a few months before your contract is up,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “Ask if there are any available promotions or discounts. You can even mention a deal their competitor is running — they might not match it, but they could still offer you a discounted rate for another year.”
Use a Negotiation Service To Lower Your Cable Bill
To save on your cable and other monthly bills, “you can use bill negotiation services such as Trim or BillShark that will negotiate better rates on your behalf,” said Bethy Hardeman, a personal finance expert at Tally, the first fully automated debt manager. “These services will do all of the grunt work for you and are free of charge. For compensation, bill negotiation services only take a portion of your savings if they can successfully lower one of your monthly bills.”
Use Groupon When Dining Out
“If you and your family are planning on going out to eat for dinner, you should always use Groupon,” said Allec. “You can typically find deals for decent restaurants for around 50% off. If you get dinner for four, that means it might only be $80 rather than $160.”
Get a Lower Price on Salon Services With Groupon
“When it comes to getting the best price for a blowout or hair color, there’s nothing better than Groupon,” said Hardeman.
Stack Groupon With a Cash-Back Plug-In To Save Even More
“If you want to earn cash back at the same time, use [cashback plug-in] Rakuten when buying a Groupon deal,” said Jacob Wade from iHeartBudgets.net.
Get Refunded for Bank and Credit Card Fees With Cushion
“We are now in a day and age where AI is willing to contact banks on our behalf and reimburse us for fees and charges we spent on our bank accounts,” said Allec. “An AI bot such as Cushion can instantly save many $50 in fees that the AI is able to reverse for you on your behalf. The only catch is that Cushion takes 25% of what they earn back for you — but hey, you would have not likely gotten the money back without Cushion, so the AI deserves its cut.”
Cushion can also get you refunds on credit card fees in addition to bank fees.
Other Ways To Cut Back: How To Create a Budget You Can Live With
Check Your Local Library for Discounts and Free Passes for Family Entertainment
“One great way for families to save money is to get free passes from your local library,” said Marc Andre, personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com. “Many libraries have limited free passes available for museums, zoos and parks. You may be able to save a lot of money on entrance fees for a day of fun with your family.”
Know When To Shop When Buying a Car
“Buying a car close to the end of the model year, on holidays or on weekdays is a quick and easy way to start out saving money,” said Jeff Rose, CFP, author and founder of Good Financial Cents.
You should also do your research before heading to the dealership.
“Come prepared by knowing the value of the car you want to buy — Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com should be your best friends — as well as the value of the one you may want to sell in exchange,” he said. “Also, getting pre-approved for a car loan provides more leverage when bargaining and [can help you] avoid dealer financing.”
Prep Your Home To Be Energy Efficient To Save On Electricity Bills
“If you recently purchased a home or are about to purchase a home, save money over the long-haul by getting an energy audit completed on your home,” said Kyle Kroeger, founder of Financial Wolves.
“Most utility companies have rebates or programs with which they will complete it for free. Then, you can do small retrofits, like insulating your water piping, to keep your house running efficiently. Each small retrofit adds up over time, especially if you plan to live in your home for the foreseeable future. Additionally, if you are purchasing a new home and it doesn’t have insulation in an attic, consider negotiating that into the purchase agreement by having the sellers pay for the insulation.”
Sign Up For a Gym Membership in January To Lock In Lower Rates
“You can absolutely get a gym membership at a lower price,” said Ramhold. “Pay attention to specials and discounts, and watch for these to be big during the month of January when gyms are trying to sign up new members. Look for discounted rates, but don’t forget about things like waived fees and bonus perks as well. Also, don’t sign up at the first gym you find — shop around if you can to find the best rate.”
Shop For Electronics on Amazon's Outlet Store
“You can find some pretty sweet deals on electronics by going to Amazon’s Outlet store,” said Amanda L. Grossman, a certified financial education instructor and founder of Frugal Confessions.
Get the Best Prices on Appliances in September and October
“New models usually come out in November, so we see a lot of deal activity on large appliances from Labor Day weekend through October,” said Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert for TrueTrae.com. “It’s not unusual to see discounts in the 30-40% off range, which can mean big savings for such a big purchase.”
Buy the Floor Model When Shopping For Electronics
Ramhold offers this tip for scoring a lower price on an electronics purchase: “Ask the salesperson if you can buy a floor model at a discounted price. There’s no guarantee they’ll be able to help you, but it can’t hurt to ask,” she said. “Alternatively, you can see if they’ll price-match a lower price at a competing store.”
You Can Also Save On Furniture by Buying the Floor Model
“Much like electronics shopping, it pays to ask the salesperson if you can buy the floor models for cheaper than their unused counterparts,” said Ramhold. “Remember, though, that often these models have been tested by a number of people, and purchasing it will likely mean you’re buying it as-is with no option to return it.”
Opt For Gently-Used Baby Gear
“When it comes to buying baby gear, you don’t need to buy everything brand new,” said Hardeman. “Gently-used items are just as good and often come at a fraction of the price (or free!). The best place to start is to ask friends and family who have kids already. You’ll be surprised by how eager some parents are to purge their baby gear. Other options are to connect with local Facebook parenting groups or neighbors on Nextdoor, or visiting local rummage sales. Just make sure to inspect items and check for product recalls before buying or using them.”
Travel Off-Season and Use Discount Sites and Apps To Get a Lower Price on Your Next Vacation
“I love saving money on vacations by flying in the off-peak seasons where it is not as busy, and by using sites like TravelZoo to get great deals on bundled travel packages,” said Bethany Bayless, co-host of the podcast The Money Millhouse. “I save money on excursions or tours at my destination by buying ahead on sites like Viator.”
Book Flights Six to Eight Weeks in Advance To Get the Lowest Price
“When it comes to domestic flights, you want to book approximately six to eight weeks before your desired departure date,” said Andrea Woroch, consumer and family finance expert. “Not only is it important to know how far in advance to book your flight to get the best deal, but knowing which day of the week offers lower rates can help you save more. For instance, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are historically the best days of the week to find lower prices on airfare (as long as it’s at least four weeks out from your departure date). You can also track prices using a site like Hopper or Google Flights to get notifications when prices drop on a specific flight or route. I also recommend building your own round-trip itinerary. [This] means pricing out one-way flights separately so you can compare options in and out of surrounding airports at your departure and arrival destinations.”
To compare all options, make sure you visit individual airlines’ sites as well as the flight aggregator sites.
“Some airlines like Southwest do not allow aggregators like Travelocity to pull their flight details, so always check their website directly for comparison,” said Woroch. “Make sure you factor in all potential fees when comparing airfare prices. You may think you’re getting a better deal with one airline over another because the base price is lower, but end up paying more with seat selection and checking a bag.”
Comparison Shop For the Lowest Price on Toys
“When it comes to finding the best price on toys for your kids or a birthday/holiday gift, comparing prices is key to saving,” said Woroch. “When you’re shopping online, run a quick Google search to see which retailers sell the specific toy for the best price. Then download a savings tool like Honey to your browser which will hunt down the best coupons for you, automatically applying any available deal to your cart, to figure out which one offers the biggest savings. This takes all the leg work out of trying different coupons to save you money and time.”
If you have some time to shop, set up an alert for price drops.
“You can track sales with the Droplist feature via Honey, which notifies you when any toy you add to the list drops in price so you can snag the deal before the price goes back up,” said Woroch. “Historically, the best deals on toys are released about two weeks prior to Christmas.”
Stock Up on Gifts While They Are on Sale
“My favorite way to save money on gifts is by keeping a gift cupboard in my home,” said Grossman. “As each of the clearances occurs throughout the year (mostly at the end of each season), I stock up on future gifts for people. I stash them in my cupboard, then come Christmas, birthdays and other gift-giving occasions, I simply ‘shop’ my cupboard.”
Get a Lower Price on Gas With GetUpside
“The money-saving app, GetUpside, has significantly lowered my gas bill,” said Becky Beach, money-saving expert and finance blogger at MomBeach.com. “More locations are being added every month to this awesome app. Whenever I need gas, I look at the app to see what locations are near me and then claim the offer. I scan in my receipt in order to get cash back on my gas. GetUpside can be used to buy groceries now too. It works similar to Ibotta in that you scan in your receipt after you claim the offer. I have gotten $50 in cash back so far by using GetUpside.”
Shop Wholesale To Get the Lowest Price on Diamond Jewelry and Engagement Rings
“Don’t buy an engagement ring retail — work with a diamond dealer or wholesaler and skip the middleman,” said Dan Moran, diamond expert, private jeweler and founder of Concierge Diamonds. “Buying retail means you pay retail price. This goes for online stores as well as traditional brick and mortar jewelry stores.”
Moran also shared additional ways to save on an engagement ring.
“Have your engagement ring custom made,” he said. “It’s counterintuitive, but having a ring custom made is often cheaper than buying a pre-existing one. You won’t be paying for stones or design features you don’t want, and you get it exactly the way you want it. Work with an expert — don’t just trust the guy behind the counter at a big box store or some bot on a website. Find a genuine expert in diamonds. That person will have a lower cost basis (experts are better at buying diamonds!), and can pass on the savings to you.”
Buy Mattresses During Holiday Weekends
“Three-day weekends, Memorial Day and Labor Day, in particular, are good times to invest in a new mattress,” said Bodge. “We also see some mattress deals around July 4th. You’ll find discounts being offered by the big brands, like Serta and Sealy, but also from the smaller ‘bed-in-a-box’ companies like Nest, Nectar and Purple.”
Shop For Low-Priced TVs on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
“The best time to buy TVs is over Black Friday/CyberMonday,” said Bodge. “The discounts will be very deep, especially on last season’s models. Right before the Superbowl is another time for TV deals. People want to see the big game on the best screen possible, and many retailers will offer promotions around that time.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.