Even very successful bizzy people like to save money, especially in this economy. With the spending season rapidly approaching, here are a few tips and techniques that will save you cash and time during the holidays:
Shop Online. It saves time, gas, parking fees, frustration, weird encounters with guys dressed like Santa, and the annoyance of having to wrap and ship gifts, since they do it for you, and most of the sites are pretty efficient! Also, with our current economic state I would expect great discounts this season! To save some money, first go to a shopping rebate site. I have written about these before, and I am suprised more people don’t use them. They are easy-to-use sites that conglomerate major shopping sites. When you click through, they register your click and rebate you on everything you purchase. Depending on the sites, some of the rebates are up to 10% or more of your total purchase. A couple favorites I have mentioned before – www.fatwallet.com, and www.ebates.com. Otherwise, Amazon continues to be the premier shopping site for almost everything. Unfortunately you will not find them on either of the above sites, but their prices and service more than make up for it. I suggest signing up for their “Prime” program which allows free two day shipping. You pay a yearly fee for this, but if you are buying a lot of gifts it more than makes up for the fee.
Get a Rebate Credit Card. Of course, we all know that the credit card industry is a Weasel-infested corporate cesspool that charges ridiculous fees and steals from the poor! OK – maybe not the entire industry….. But, if you are smart and pay your bills you can actually play the credit card biz to your advantage. First point – if you are carrying credit card debt – stop reading now as you should not be even contemplating buying Christmas gifts. Bake cookies. Send a coupon good for an hour of your time to clean the attic. Write them a song. But don’t spend money! The best gift you can give your family is to be personally financially stable – so don’t increase debt to buy gifts! But, assuming you do pay your bills on time and in full every month, consider one of the new cash rebate credit cards. I was a fan of airline cards, but the points get more and more difficult to use, and I think the best deal around is a cold, hard cash rebate. My personal favorite rebate card is the Chase Freedom Card (and here is a site that gives you a $50 rebate on the card) – www.chasefreedomnow.com This card rebates you from 1 to 3% on every purchase. They have a really easy to navigate website, and when you have accumulated $200 in rebates they will actually send you a check for $250. Their customer service is also the best I have encountered with a credit card company.
Look For Coupons. There are dozens of couponing sites that often offer great discounts from your favorite online and traditional stores. The easiest way to find a discount? Just Google what you are buying and “coupon”. For instance, last month I needed new tires. I Googled “Firestone Tire coupons” – and found a coupon good for one free tire with the purchase of three – which saved me $200.
Use American Express Rewards for gift cards. Another idea if you are an American Express Membership Rewards member. If you are like me you have been accumulating points to transfer to airline programs. But as covered earlier most of the programs are really difficult to use and return less than 1% (that should be the minimum goal of your credit card rebates). So consider purchasing gift cards with your Membership Reward points – and specifically look for the cards that redeem at 1%. Then buy gifts with those cards (a better choice than giving them as gifts as a lot of people loose them or don’t redeem for other reasons). A few good choices available from Amex that redeem at 1%: Home Depot, Pottery Barn, and Banana Republic. There are dozens to choose from.
Negotiate. If you had the good sense to read my book Warriors, Workers, Whiners, & Weasels (By the way – you can click to the right – go right to Amazon, and get a great deal on this essential personal and professional management tool. It also makes a wonderful gift!), you know the following:
- I’m not afraid to shamelessly promote my book.
- I am a firm believer in the concept that everything is negotiable.
- I like titles with lots of W’s.
The big point here as you shop. Almost everything is negotiable – even in stores you would not think it possible. A couple months ago I negotiated a discount at a Brooks Brothers Store. Feel free to ask if an item is going on sale, if they are running a promotion that is not reflected in the price, etc. Often they will offer dramatic savings, and it is relatively painless.