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Money Saving Tips For Shopping

This is a guest post by Mr. Credit Card of www.askmrcreditcard.com, a website on credit card offers and deals. Today, he is highlighting some of the money saving tips that has helped Mrs. Credit Card and him on their shopping trips. The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author (Mr. Credit Card).

1. Go to a sales tax free state – I live in Pennsylvania in the Delaware County. State of Delaware is just a 30 minute drive away for me. Whenever there is a big ticket item to be purchased, Mrs. Credit Card and I consider if we should drive to Delaware where there is no sales tax. We have done so for things like buying wine and alcohol beverage for a party where the savings can be substantial. If you are looking to buy an Apple computer, such a trip would be worth it because it could mean a 6% savings just on sales tax. [editor’s edit: as comments have pointed out, this practice may be illegal / unethical. Follow your conscience (and the law) in this matter].

2. Get store employees to get discount – This is one of our favorite techniques to save money. For example, we presently know someone who works in Macy’s in Delaware. She is able to get discounts as a staff employee, on top of current sale prices. For example, a kids size North Face Denali Jacket was priced at $84.99 and there is an additional 50% off. With her employee discount, she got my son a toasty jacket at a cool $30! Beat that! [editor’s edit: when I worked at a clothing retailer in high school, employees were given 50% discount for themselves and 30% discount for their friends and families. I assume Mr. Credit Card is referring to the above situation. Obviously, if using discounts for any friend is against the rules, it’s not so nice to ask your friend to risk their jobs for you.]

3. Buy kids size if you are petite – Mrs. Credit Card is rather petite. So she finds it hard to shop at regular stores. Very often, she finds stuff at the kids sections. For some reason, a kids size clothing may be the identical size as an adult XS but cost substantially less. One example is the North Face Denali fleece jacket that Mrs. Credit Card has. The XS in the adult section is exactly the same size as the Large for kids. Yet the one in the kids section is cheaper! So if you are petite, you could potentially save money simply because of your size. Check the kid section and not just XS in the adult section.

4. Make use of student discounts – Many stores give discounts for students. I recently got an Apple laptop (the MacBook Pro). I got a friend’s girlfriend to product her student ID and I got discounts on the computer and the Apple Care Protection warranty. Funny thing was I was advised to do so by the people at Apple! The catch was that this student could not use her student ID to get any discounts from Apple for one year. There are lots of places that give discounts if you can produce a student ID card (never throw them away!). Make use of them cos the savings you can get are quite good.

5. Make use of business discounts – Many stores also give discounts for business or bulk purchases, especially in electronics. If you are going to buy a high priced item, check if the store gives business discount. I know for a fact that Apple gives a discount for business purchases over $5,000 dollars. Some stores may require that you get a store credit card to get a discount. If the savings is large enough, then it might not be such a bad idea. Always ask. You’ll be surprised with how you can save money shopping.

6. Make use of credit card shopping portal – This is one of the money saving tips that nobody really talks about – a hidden gem, if you will. Many credit cards (Chase Freedom, Discover, Citi mtvU) have introduced online shopping portals. If you log into your account and go to the online retailers site via your credit card account and use the card, you could get cash rebates and discounts. They range from 2% to as high as 20%. This could really add up to quite a bit. Using the Apple computer as an example, you could shop at apple.com through your Discover account and earn 5% rebates. Plus you could also make use of your student or business discount. That is what I would call “discount stacking”! Just like coupon stacking! These portals also allow you to save at places like Lands Ends, Best Buy, Overstock etc. When you shop this way when they are giving away free shipping, the savings and convenience really adds up. Aside from using shopping portals, simply using cash back rewards credit cards will already save you money via cash rebates.

7. Use credit card warranties and protection – Most credit card companies offer some form of protection and insurance when you use their card for your purchases. For example, you could get a product loss or accidental damage protection for up to 90 days. You could also get extended warranty feature. This can save you some money from purchasing additional warranty. All of the cards out there, American Express credit cards probably have the best warranty feature.

8. Look out for deals and coupons – I’ve used coupons at grocery stores and other retailers. Supercuts is giving $2 discount for any haircut (equal $6 for 3 kids) and 20% off additional services. Another coupon is $5 off total bill for party of 2 or more and $10 off total bill for party of 4 or more at a local restaurant. Although we hardly eat at McDonald’s, those coupons can also shave your bill into half easily. Bed Bath and Beyond also has an ongoing 20% discount off any purchase (any amount and even applies to Sale & Clearance items) and they always accept expired coupons. I always keep them when they come in the mail as they come in handy.

9. Shop in outlets – My guess is there is probably one near you within an hour drive. It’s not a shopping trip you want to make every week. However, one trip every 3 to 6 months can save you money and keep you in style. Also, time your trip during their “sales” period and you’ll save even more. Most of the stores have additional discounts in January and July. Call ahead and find out. Mrs CC once bought the cutest pair of Disney sandals for our little girl for less than $3 and Levi jeans for the kids for $4 a pair. Insane. If you are into designer brands, even Uggs, North Face, Under Armor, Gucci, Prada (the list goes on) are in the outlets. Check out www.outletbound.com.

These are our money saving shopping tips. Leave your tips in the comments below.

image source: wikipedia.org

  • Katy - To me, it seems that several of these "tips" are borderline unethical. Many stores forbid their employees from sharing their discounts and by asking, you could put a friend in a really awkward situation. I've heard of people losing their jobs for doing things like this. Also, using a student discount when you're no longer a student seems abusive of the policy. If enough people do this, the stores will probably stop giving student rates altogether. I guess, for me, I'd rather be honest and pay a little extra than abuse store policies. ReplyCancel

    • Mr Credit Card - actually friends volunteer to help! you just choose the item and he or she pays.. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - When I worked at a clothing retailer in high school, we could use our employee discounts for anyone – it was 50% off for employees themselves (which means that if I'm a size S I can't buy a men size XXL and claim it's for myself), and 30% off if we're buying for anyone else. I think our limit was 6 items per month for ourselves and maybe… another 6 items per month for other people? I assume that's what Mr. Credit Card's talking about. ReplyCancel

  • Cassie - Great tips! I'm not a student but I have a student discount card that says "valid photo ID not required" that I use. I will usually only shop at stores that I can use this card at, unless they are having an amazing sale. :) ReplyCancel

  • Abigail - I know that Washington state honors the zero sales tax of people from other states. So when I had an Alaska driver's license, I could get sales tax waived. I am not sure if other states do this, but I definitely helped out a friend or two with a big purchase. When it's almost 9% you're looking a hefty price hike on things like Playstation consoles. ReplyCancel

  • fallingintofavor - My husband used his student id to buy my computer from Apple as well, it was $100 off and I think almost the same off of the Apple care. If you work for a company or have AAA, you may be missing out on a lot of discounts so you should look into that. I know AAA members get discounts at tons of hotels, at outlet malls (in Cali), and once upon a time at Best Buy! My husband's company gets 20% of phone service at Verizon & AT&T. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - AAA discounts are always a good standby, but sometimes I've found I can get better deals through other coupons. AAA is consistent and wide-spread, but it's never the lowest discount. ReplyCancel

  • Christina - I usually buy kids t-shirt since I'm petite and it really saves me a lot :D… the rest I have to take your advice for that. For sure it will also work for me. I just didn't figured out that yet until I read your blog. Sweet. ReplyCancel

  • me in millions - I def buy clothes in the kids section… the joys of being tiny! But the last time I went outlet shopping, I was horrified by the quality of the items. Yes, it has a good label, but it usually isn't the same quality as the non-outlet version. ReplyCancel

  • paranoidasteroid - I used to use the sales tax tip all the time when I lived in CA. Pennsylvania has no sales tax on clothes, so whenever I visited my parents, I'd go crazy with shopping. The tax rate in CA was nearly 10% at that point, so it really did add up! I do the same thing when I shop online – if I don't need the item right away, I have it shipped to PA and get it when I visit my parents. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - I did the same when I lived in NYC for a month … there's no tax on clothes under $100. ReplyCancel

  • Frugillionaire - Another tip: question if you really need to buy NEW. Consider shopping Craigslist, eBay, or a secondhand store instead; in many cases, you'll find what you need at a fraction of the retail price. ReplyCancel

  • Friday Links - Canadian Finance Blog - […] Well-Heeled Blog has some money saving tips for shopping. […]ReplyCancel

  • Laura - I definitely buy in kids sizes if I can!

    I was curious, Ms. Wellheeled, what you thought about having people use their employee discount for you. I know in most stores employees are not allowed to share it and can get in trouble if caught. Just curious on your thoughts! ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Hey Laura – when I worked in retail we could use our employee discounts for ourselves and for friends & family. We’d just get different levels of discount (50% off for me, 30% off for others). As I replied to an earlier comment, I assume that’s what Mr. Credit Card is referring to. But maybe many stores don’t offer that? Just based on my experience, when I read Mr. CC’s tip my first thought wasn’t that he’s asking his friends to do something against the rules.ReplyCancel

  • not smart - Not only are some of these items unethical, the first one is downright illegal if you aren't reporting that purchase and paying the sales tax when you file your state income tax return. Now, not many people are honest enough to actually do that when they file their return, but I don't think I'd intentionally avoid paying sales tax on a major purchase and then crow about it on an internet blog… ReplyCancel

  • Shoe LaLa - I agree with the comments that some of these "tips" are unethical. 1) Sales tax, if everyone did that then states that doe have sales taxes would seriously loose out of revenue. 2) I have worked for 4 retail stores in my career and at all of them using your discount for a friend was against policy and grounds for termination. 3) Aslo take issue with using a "student discount" if you are not truly a student. Stores may stop offering such perks if abuse of said discount becomes rampant. Usually have great stuff on your blog; those post not so much. ReplyCancel

    • Mr Credit Card - the use of student id was actually encouraged by the salesperson and suggested to me! ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Hi Shoe LaLa – I'm sorry you didn't find this guest post helpful. I went back and added some clarifying editor's remarks, especially about the sales tax issue as I do not want to encourage anyone to break the law (or go against their conscience!). By the way, I worked for the Gap several years back so maybe policies have changed, but I know I bought a lot of things for my friends using my 6-a-month friend discount and it was perfectly legitimate and encouraged by management. Thanks for your thoughts and for keeping me on my toes! ReplyCancel

  • jayme - the student discount one is a HUGE one, you would be suprised how many places have student discounts, including clothing stores and drug stores.

    Also, another thing that can be helpful is use your place of work. i can explain this by example. When i used to work in the mall i had access to all sorts of discounts. not only did i not have to pay tax on my lunch food from the food court, but i would get as much as 20 percent off at stores that i didn't even work at. If you work in an area with a high concentration of stores, you should let them know you work in that area. You may be given a lovely discount ReplyCancel

  • Brochure Printing - For number two, I think its a case to case basis. If this wont put your employee friend in trouble and if he/she offered you to use his/her privilege discount then I do not see any reason why we should hesitate. Of course the classic coupon and discount hunting is still one of the best tip to save more money. ReplyCancel

  • belleinthenorth - You have to be careful with outlet malls. I've been to one and, yes, most of the stores have good deals but most of them do not. A Gucci store should not be in an outlet mall if you're still charging $300 for a handbag. ReplyCancel

  • Ken - Children's consignment sales are great ways to save on clothes ReplyCancel

  • 100 Personal Finance Posts Every College Student Needs to Read - Career Overview - […] Money Saving Tips for Shopping: From buying kids sizes to using your student or business discount, these tips will add up. […]ReplyCancel

  • ukhotdeals - Good point! Thanks for sharing! We are now thinking of a way to switch the oven off completely when we’re not using it (is has a display with a clock, which of course always uses a little energy). Annoyingly, the power socket is at the back of the oven, and we can’t reach it without taking the oven out of the cupboard.


  • Joanne B - We find online shopping at http://www.buzzoot.com has been great to easily find bargains. Seems to be a new site with no strings attached to use. ReplyCancel

  • treasure hunters roadshow - Wonderful post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Kudos!ReplyCancel

  • h2ofilters - Shop for a low cost water filter to filter your own water instead of bottled water. One of those Pur or Brita filters can go a long way to reducing your grocery expenses. If you are planning to organize a picnic or a backyard barbeque, use a cooler pitcher filter instead of packs of bottled water. ReplyCancel

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