5 Ways to Save Money on Any Purchase

Man comparing prices while shopping
••• Predrag Vuckovic/iStock

If you’re looking to make some extra room in your budget, then saving money is probably a top priority for you. However, if saving doesn’t come naturally to you, it may be difficult to cut your spending in certain areas.

If the details of your budget overwhelm you, why not focus on saving money on any purchase you make? As a result, you’ll train yourself to look for ways to cut your spending and you’ll become a natural saver in no time.

Here are five ways you can save money when making purchases:

Buy Used, Refurbished, or Older Models

Most people enjoy the shine of a new toy, but that newness will cost you. Why not consider used or refurbished options first? Buying an open-box TV will cost you a lot less than a new one. Likewise, purchasing a refurbished laptop can potentially save you hundreds of dollars, especially on a brand or line that doesn’t go on sale often. These refurbished or open-box items are basically brand new, complete with the usual manufacturer warranties.

Buying used items can bring even heavier discounts, but there are some risks involved. If you’d rather not go that route, try looking for older models of a particular item. For example, maybe you want to buy a new pair of running shoes. Last year’s model might be $20-$40 cheaper, depending on which brand and line you’re looking at. In any case, buying something older—whether it’s used or new—will save you money, especially where technology is concerned.

Check for Promotions and Coupons

One popular solution for saving money on purchases is to look for coupons. It can be a time-consuming commitment, though. Most people don’t enjoy looking through the paper and clipping coupons on Sunday. Instead, make the coupons come to you. Create an email account (or smart folder within your main account) specifically for “junk” email. Sign up for the newsletters of your favorite stores and let their offers go directly to that folder or account.

The trick is only to check these emails when you need to make a purchase. Otherwise, the sales might be too tempting—you have to know your limits. If you don’t feel like signing up for newsletters, there are other ways to come by coupons.

  • Do a Google search for coupon codes when shopping online.
  • Check Groupon, Living Social, Slickdeals, and other discount/deal sites to see if there’s a sale on anything you need.
  • Use some of the convenient coupon apps for your smartphone.

Compare Prices and Use Price Matches

Do you love to shop at Amazon? One of the best price-tracking tools you can use is Camelcamelcamel.com. Name aside, this useful tool links up to your Amazon account to track the prices of anything on your wish list. Set your desired price and receive an email alert when the price drops on an item.

There are many similar browser extensions and apps you can use to view the price history of an item, see where it’s on sale, and compare prices. This is especially helpful for shopping at retailers that offer price match guarantees, which is most major retailers these days. See something you want on Amazon, but don't want to wait for it to ship? Use these apps to provide proof that an item you want is cheaper online or elsewhere, and they’ll match the price for you.

Buy Discounted Gift Cards

Did you know that some websites sell gift cards at discounted prices? People sell their unused gift cards to these sites, and, in turn, the websites resell the gift cards at a discount. Daily deal sites and warehouse retailers like Costco and Sam's Club also offer deals on gift cards.

You might be able to find a $100 Target gift card for $90 or $85 through one of these outlets. Keep an eye out and you may even find gift cards selling for 35% under face value. If you're strategic about buying discounted cards for stores where you would ordinarily shop, it's a great way to trim your budget.

Take Advantage of Cash-Back Opportunities

It's a great feeling when those rewards points become a bonus deposit into your bank account. And, while many people use rewards credit cards, there are many other ways to earn cash back.

Shopping portals such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates) offer one easy option. With an account at these sites, you shop online via their affiliate links. In return, you get a certain percentage of cash-back points with each purchase. Once you reach the threshold, you’ll be able to redeem your rewards for cash.

Another option is to use a site like Swagbucks to earn points toward gift cards. Again, once you have an account, completing certain activities (such as filling out a survey or performing a search) will reward you with points. You can then redeem those points for a gift card at a retailer of your choice.

Stack up Your Savings

When you're trying to put money away for savings and retirement, every little bit counts. It may take some time to work these deal-finding practices into your routine, but with a little effort, you can rack up big savings over time.