- Never buy new what you can buy used.
That brand-new sparkle comes at a high price, on everything from cars to furniture to clothes. Let somebody else take the hit. Instead of heading to the department store, head to the consignment store, thrift shop, yard sale, or sites like Craigslist or eBay.
- Never buy this generation when last generation will do.
Ignore the commercials that entice you to buy the latest and greatest. From cars to computers, buying yesterday’s technology can save you 20-50 percent. Early adopters are often paying for nothing more than bragging rights – why not wait and brag about how much money you saved?
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- Always ask for a lower price.
People say you get what you pay for. We say you get what you ask for. In addition to negotiating more traditional things like houses and cars, our writers have succeeded in scoring lower prices on hotel rooms, doctor’s visits, cable bills, and car repairs, as well as asking for and receiving lower rates on loans and higher rates on savings. Check out Confessions of a Serial Haggler.
From now on, consider the price of services or big-ticket items as what they are: an opening bid.
- Stop paying for name brands.
What’s in a name? Often nothing more than a higher cost. Paying more is OK if the higher cost means higher quality. But it’s not OK to pay more simply to help pay for some company’s annoying commercials.
One of many examples: More often than not, generic patent medicines like aspirin and cough syrup aren’t similar to their brand name counterparts. They’re identical. There’s only one reason anyone would pay up to 50 percent more for an identical item – some commercial told them to.
Check out 7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic for more on this topic, and stop throwing money away.
- Share with your friends and neighbors.
It’s probably not practical to share a car with your neighbor, but what about his ladder, or your lawn mower? If it’s something neither of you need to use on a regular basis — and you get along well enough — get together with one or more people on your block and form a neighborhood co-op. In addition to reducing the cost of common household items by 50 percent or more, you also reduce clutter.
And if you use something really infrequently, rent it instead of buying it.
- Try to substitute imagination for money.
People often pay for pre-packaged ideas by habit when they could easily come up with lower-cost ideas that are also better. Instead of buying cards and gifts, make your own. Instead of taking your date to a restaurant, take her on a picnic. Instead of meeting at a bar, have your friends over. Instead of heading to hotel, camp out.
Use your mind instead of your money and your life will be more interesting and less expensive.
- Try to make it or fix it yourself.
Just because something’s available in a store doesn’t mean that’s the only place you can buy it. Check out 6 Alternatives to Expensive Household Cleaners, Do-It-Yourself Laundry Detergent and Household Products Vinegar Can Replace.
And that’s the tip of the iceberg. From Homemade Halloween Costumes to Home Repairs to growing your own food, you can save a bundle by using your hands instead of cash. And you can find help with just about anything online.
Additional benefit? You feel more independent, because you are.
- Always use the Internet.
While using the Internet to comparison shop should be obvious, there are new techniques and technologies evolving constantly. For example, PriceBlink: This browser add-on automatically searches for a lower price and/or coupons on anything you’re looking at or searching for online.
Don’t ever buy anything online or off without first searching the web to see if you can find a coupon or discount. But the Internet is a double-edged sword…
- Never subscribe to “deal” websites.
While it’s smart to be able to find online coupons and deals on the things you want, it’s dumb to allow websites to fill your in-box with dozens of potential impulse buys. Tell the Internet what you need: Don’t let the Internet (or TV commercials or your friends) tell you what you want.
- Sell before you buy.
Before you buy anything you want, make it a habit to first sell something you don’t. Your garage and closets are full of stuff you no longer use. So before you go to the store or click that online “checkout” button, stop. Put off the purchase – first, take some clothes to the consignment shop, or take a picture of something you’re no longer using and put it on Craigslist. It only takes a minute.
As soon as it sells, apply the money to the purchase you were going to make. Now you’ve saved on something you wanted, and gotten rid of something you didn’t.
Source: Money Talks (http://s.tt/12mMM)
- Free checking. Last week we wrote an article about how, at many banks, free checking was soon to become fee checking. But plenty of banks still offer free checking accounts. SunTrust, for example, offers a free plan with no minimum balance required. And you get free online and ATM service too. Wachovia and U.S. Bank still have their own version of free accounts. Chase even offers $100 for opening such an account. Indeed, a host of banks and savings and loans offer free checking. So far. When you’re looking for lower fees, including free checking, always to look to smaller local banks and credit unions.
- Free credit reports. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com for a free look at your credit history once a year. If the Financial Regulatory Reform bill passes, you might also one day get a look at your credit score. Read about other changes ahead here.
- Free cash. If you can’t find an ATM near you for a free cash withdrawal, no worries: Plenty of stores will give you cash back with no fee when you use your ATM card to make even a small purchase. You can buy a candy bar or a Diet Coke and get back up to $100 in cash from Wal-Mart. Target will give you back $40 if you use your ATM card for a purchase. Grocery stores also offer cash back. And then there are iPhone and other apps that will help you locate ATMs: Here’s one.
- Free information calls. Google 411 will get you information numbers free, so don’t get ripped off by your cell phone provider. When you need directory assistance, dial 800-GOOG-411.
- Free scholarship search. Plenty of websites offer free searches for scholarships, such as Fastweb. There’s even a company called Free Scholarship Searches that offers links to 40 websites that offer free scholarship searches. And check out our recent story, 6 Tips to Pay Less for a College Degree
- Free baggage. Sure, nearly all airlines are charging to check baggage but at least one doesn’t: Southwest. And remember carrying on bags is still free, except for on Spirit Airlines.
- Free entertainment. Your local library and parks offer lots of free fun, from books to movies to concerts. Join their e-mail list to see what’s up. And of course, there’s the Internet, offering free games as well as magazine and newspaper articles. Just go to the website of your favorite periodical.
- Free Water. While technically not free, tap water is about as close as you can get. If you’re concerned about water quality, buy a filter. But don’t ever pay for water at a convenience store.
- Free TV. Thanks to sites like Hulu, you can now watch many popular television shows online for free. If your favorite shows are free on the web, why pay for cable or satellite? Check out You Don’t Have to Pay for Cable TV for more.
- Free telephone calls. Services like Skype and AIM let you communicate with other users for free. Always calling a loved one long distance? If you both get copies of something like Skype, you can talk all you want without paying a dime. And with a service like Google Voice, you can get all of your cell phone calls free, too.