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25 Ways to Save on Shopping

Use these simple tips to save on everything from clothes to electronics

woman with shopping bags

Tom Wang / Alamy Stock Photo

En español | 1. Buy discounted gift cards. On websites such as Raise and Cardpool, people list unwanted gift cards at a discount — 16 percent is average, according to the site. Buy a $100 gift card for $84 and save $16.

2. Do a postseason stock-up shop. The best time to replace worn-out clothes, gear or supplies is when their season has just ended. For example, a gas grill at Home Depot was listed at $299 last summer, then marked down to $249 after the season. Savings: $50.

3. Check out Amazon Warehouse. Before you buy, see if the item is available at a discount. A Poulan self-propelled lawn mower selling for $300 on Amazon was available on Amazon Warehouse, slightly used, for $210, a savings of $90.

4. Check for promo codes. Online retailers offer discount codes. Google the retailer and “promo code” to see what pops up or check RetailMeNot.com before finalizing a purchase. Recent savings: $31.98 off a Land’s End dress priced at $79.95, and $47.96 off a pair of Gap men’s jeans and a sweater worth $119.90 — a total of almost $80. 

5. Buy through BeFrugal.com. This website offers coupons and cash back for purchases from 5,000 retailers. A Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop was $1,339 using a $70 coupon. That’s a savings of more than $100 over online retailers.

6. Rent a dress. Need a glamorous dress or evening gown that you plan to wear only once? Don’t buy it; rent it instead at sites like RentTheRunway.com. A gown that sells for $695 can be rented for $115. Savings: $580.

7. Get magazines cheap. Subscribe to lots of magazines? Consider the Texture app: For one monthly fee, you get access to digital versions of more than 200 popular magazines. Save $10 to $50 per subscription. 

8. Buy a refurbished computer. Why pay big bucks for the latest model? Go to sites like DiscountComputerDepot.com and pick up a refurbished laptop with a one-year warranty for $100. That’ll save you at least $100 over a new computer.

9. Get retroactive refunds. Stores will refund the difference if the price drops soon after you buy an item. The Earny app finds and claims price drops. Savings: $220 when that laptop you ordered drops in price. 

10. Wait on a mattress sale. Never buy a department store mattress at regular price. Those stores regularly have steep discounts. A recent sale at a national chain store saw the price of a queen-size mattress and box spring set marked down from $3,589 to $1,749. Savings: $1,780. 

11. Digitize your coupons. The app SnipSnap helps you store a digital image of a coupon (that you might otherwise lose) on your smartphone. A salvaged CVS coupon saved us $10.

12. Design your own greeting card. Make cards for free at Spark.Adobe.com/make/card-maker. Save up to $10 a card.

13. Shop unit prices. Focus on costs per ounce or other units of measure, not the total price. Recent example: A 1-liter bottle of seltzer cost 32 cents a pint, vs. 55 cents a pint for a 12-ounce can. Save $10 a week.

14. Get free e-books. You can download nearly 60,000 public domain e-books, including  many classics, at Gutenberg.org. Save $3 to $10 per e-book.

15. Join a shave club. Pay about $2 for a razor cartridge at an online shave club like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club. Save $2.50 or more per cartridge compared with brand-name choices bought in a store, or $60 a year.

16. Max out your library. Stream books, get first-run movies or grab free passes to museums. For example, at many New York state public libraries you can pick up free admission to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, a $25 savings.

17. Buy refilled ink cartridges. Amazon listed new cartridges for a Hewlett-Packard printer at $82.70. Refilled cartridges were $19.99. Savings: $62.71.

18. Swap books. List books you want to get rid of on BookMooch.com. Get points when you send them to people who request them. Use the points to order used books. Save up to $81 on three hardcovers.

19. Get Gimp for photo editing. Love to do sophisticated photo editing? Download Gimp for free and save $120 per year over paying $10 a month for Photoshop.

20. Stream free movies. Go to Kanopy.com. If you belong to one of the 4,000 participating public libraries and campuses, you can stream 30,000 movies for free. If you watch one movie a week, you’ll save about $156 a year over renting movies online.

21. Find free recyclables. Join your local chapter at Freecycle.org. Then see if someone wants to give away stuff you are about to buy. The New York City chapter recently listed a free “hardly used” portable crib that cost $60 new.

22. Swap clothes online. RehashClothes.com has photos of more than 10,000 items of clothing that its members want to swap. See something you like? Offer a piece of clothing in exchange, and if the offer is accepted, swap through the mail. No money involved except postage. You might save $100 on a nice dress or jacket.

23. Host morning parties. Brunch gatherings can be just as much fun as evening parties, and the foods you serve — eggs, breads — tend to be cheaper than what you serve for dinner. Plus, you likely won’t go through as much wine. Savings: at least $40 on the food and wine, depending on the menu.

24. Don’t pay fees for movie tickets. Some online sellers charge a $1.50 to $2 “convenience” fee per ticket. Bypass it by buying at the box office or from a no-fee online vendor. 

25. Share season tickets. Arrange with your seat neighbors to trade tickets you can’t use. Save $200 on a pair of NFL tickets.

More 99 Ways to Save

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10 Ways to Save on Food & Groceries

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