As we quickly head toward the end of January, I figured it was finally time to put fingers to keys and write an article about the best way, and hottest trend, to save money shopping in 2015. Put simply, it is social media. The main players in 2015 are Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. By using all 3 on a regular basis you can almost guarantee you’ll never pay full price. In many cases, you’ll also learn to make something (or fix something) yourself to save even more money on out-of-pocket expenses. Retailers are finally wising up to the incredible reach they have with social media, and as consumers we need to use this knowledge to our advantage. Here are five ways to make it happen, starting today.
Learn to Save Money Via a Twitter Conversation
In recent years, Twitter has become a great tool when it comes to saving a buck. The obvious way is to follow all of your favorite retailers on Twitter as many constantly update their feeds with things like exclusive coupons and a early sneak peeks on upcoming sales and promotions.
The “gee whiz” way to save money (that most consumers don’t know about) is having a Twitter conversation with companies when you feel they have done you wrong in some way. Perhaps you had a terrible customer service experience or were ripped off. Or maybe you are not happy with what you are paying for your cell service or cable/satellite TV. The bottom-line is that most companies have an ear to the ground and are looking to be proactive on Twitter when they find a customer who is not happy. This personally happened to me when I made an “off the cuff” comment on Twitter about how much a pay Verizon every month. Within minutes, Verizon tweeted back to me and offered to help me with my bill and get it lowered.
The fact of the matter is companies have employees trolling Twitter this exact moment looking to right a wrong and even help you get your monthly bill reduced. Use this information as a money-saving tool in 2015 and I think you can definitely get some bills lowered. Especially bills like your cell phone, land-line (AT&T), Charter Cable, DirecTV, and Dish Network.
Become a #Hashtag Pro and Quickly Find a Deal
So a hashtag (#) is used to narrow down searches and categorize popular searches on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. For example, someone on Twitter might post a coupon for Sports Authority and include the hashtag #Coupon, #SACoupon, #SportsAuthorityDeal or #SportsAuthorityCoupon - so if you are looking for a coupon to use on your next Sports Authority purchase, just do a quick search on Twitter or Facebook for those hashtags. It will allow you to quickly sift through the social media rubble and find any possible coupons or deals you can use to save money.
The mighty hashtag can easily become your money saving best friend in 2015. Always search for # followed by whatever you’re looking for. Examples include #HawaiiDeals, #GapCoupons, #SpringBreakBargains, #ValentinesCoupons, #HotelDeals, #BlackFriday, JCrewDiscounts, etc..
Become a Loyal Facebook Follower
If you’re not following your favorite stores and retailers on Facebook in 2015 you’re potentially losing out on a lot of savings. This trend really took off last year as most popular retailers starting using their Facebook feed as a way to grow brand loyalty. What is one of the best ways to grow brand loyalty…by offering exclusive incentives, early details on flash sales, and exclusive coupons to followers. Real world example: Just last week I took to the Old Navy Facebook page before I did some shopping and ended up saving $35 as I was able to use a Facebook exclusive 50% off in-store coupon on my purchase. Be sure to “Like” your favorite retailers on Facebook in 2015 and the savings will sure to follow.
Become a Pinterest DIY’er and Save $$$
Pinterest is a frugal persons dream come true. The site is stuffed full of great tips on saving money at home and learning how to re-purpose clothing, furniture, and home decor. Also, you can easily track down pin boards on things like home remodels, new hairdos, and DIY projects that include plumbing, home decorating, and fashion tips. All of which can save you significant money by helping you learn to do and repair things yourself.
Track Down Killer Travel Deals on Twitter
Twitter is no longer just for keeping track of your favorite celebrities and athletes. Nowadays you can use it to track down some pretty killer deals, especially on travel. There are some very popular Twitter accounts set up to track and share travel deals for airfare, hotel, and vacation packages. Here are a few Twitter accounts that are my personal favorites when looking for travel deals. You definitely need to be following them in 2015 if you plan to look for travel bargains of any kind.
- @JetBlueCheeps - This is the official Twitter feed for JetBlue airlines which they update daily with exclusive deals and coupons. Currently they are promoting $32 fares to NYC and Chicago. Awesomeness.
- @AirfareWatchDog – “The only low airfare alert site that covers all airlines.” They tweet new airfare deals every 10-20 minutes. They allow you to stay in the know of any amazing airfare price drops so you can jump on them quickly.
- @FareCompare – “FareCompare presides over a kingdom of sophisticated software to find you cheap flights.” They also post some really useful articles for booking travel deals like the Cheapest Days to Fly in 2015. Answer: When traveling in the U.S. fly Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
- @FrugalTravelGuy – “Sharing tips & tricks that we can use to see the world at prices we all can afford!” Be kept in the know of awesome travel deals as well as cool tips like the best day of the week to book hotel rooms. The writers of FrugalTravelGuy.com also help readers get free upgrades as well as teaching folks how to use credit cards to churn free travel points and rewards (Article).
Happy savings in 2015. Let me know if you have any questions and I’d love to help you personally.
By Kyle James
Last year, according to the National Retail Federation, the average person spent just under $135 on Valentine’s Day, with total spending over 17 billion bucks. Wow, those are some BIG numbers. The interesting thing is that most guys wait until the day before V-Day to buy gifts or make dinner plans. The result is spending WAY more money than you should on flowers, dinner, and popular gifts like jewelry, candy, and personalized gadgets.
I’ll admit right up front that my wife and I aren’t big Valentine’s Day people as we realize much of the hoopla is man-made. But I always get her something, take her out for dinner, or do something extra nice for her. I have also realized over the years that with just a little bit of planning and strategy you can easily save a significant chunk of money and still make the day special. Here are some timely tips to get you started in the right direction.
How to Find Deals on Roses
Roses can be darn expensive, especially the week leading up to Valentine’s Day as growers start price gouging as demand goes through the roof. Your best best for finding bargain roses is to shop locally for the best deals and avoid online florists altogether. Especially consider warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club, and specialty retailers like Trader Joe’s, where you’ll be able to get a dozen roses for up to 33% cheaper than online florists like 1-800-Flowers.com, FTD.com, and ProFlowers.com. Also, if you have a problem with your flowers, you can get an easy exchange or refund from a local store where a problem with an online purchase will result in a long customer service call and probably no flowers to give your loved one on the big day.
Another smart tip is to consider roses of a color other than red. A dozen red roses are typically $20 more than yellow, pink, or orange roses. Also, if you have a few red roses arranged with some less expensive flowers you can save a solid chunk of change as well. Another tip is to not fall for the “free” vase trick as often you can buy your own vase and get a better deal overall. If you do decide to order from an online florist, try setting the delivery date to the day before Valentine’s Day as it can be much more affordable.
Find a Killer Valentine’s Day Coupon
Keep in mind that Valentine’s Day is a big time of year for many online retailers and they throw out the incentives and coupons to maximize profits. So be sure to always look for a coupon code when shopping online for gifts like jewelry, flowers, candy and personalized gifts. Here at Rather-Be-Shopping.com, we have already received great coupons from Harry & David, Red Envelope.com, 1-800-Flowers.com, Shutterfly.com, and Ice Jewelry.com. You can easily save 15%-25% off your online purchase this year by spending the 45 seconds required to find a coupon code and plugging it into the box when checking out from the retailer’s website.
How to Save Money at Restaurants
The single best way to score a deal at a restaurant is to use Groupon and LivingSocial in the week leading up to V-Day as both always have great local restaurant coupons specifically for the big day. Last year, Groupon let me buy a coupon good for $30 off a meal for 2, including drinks, appetizer, and dessert at a very highly regarded restaurant in my town. Look for more of the same this year. Also, if possible, consider a Valentine’s Day lunch and avoid the crowd and more expensive meal. Another smart tip is to consider going out to dinner with your honey on the day before (or after) V-Day as you’ll have access to even better coupons and won’t have to fight the crowd to reserve a table. Many restaurants only have a set menu for Valentine’s Day and it can be more expensive than their regular menu.
Use a Discounted Gift Card
Are you aware that you can purchase discounted gift cards for restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s, Red Lobster, Applebee’s, Black Angus, Ruth’s Chris, Longhorn, Macaroni Grill, and Olive Garden to name a few? We are talking pretty significant savings up to 25% off. My favorite website for buying discounted restaurant gift cards is Raise.com. For example, right now on their site you can buy a $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card for $21.50. You can also buy a $50 Red Lobster gift card for just under $44 with free delivery. Also a $75 Black Angus Steakhouse card for $64.50 with free delivery caught my eye. The savings goes on and on. Important Tip: If you know where you’ll be dining on V-Day, shop NOW to maximize your savings on a discounted gift card. The sooner the better.
How to See a Movie…on the Cheap
The first thing you need to do is look for free movie screening in your area by entering your area code on the site GoFoBo.com. If you strike out on free, then move on to cheap. The best way to do this is to buy a discounted movie theater gift card from Gift Card Granny.com. They sell gift cards to AMC Theaters, Cinemark, Regal Theaters, Fandango, Landmark, and many others. Looks like the average savings right now is around 15% but you can buy a $10 AMC Theaters gift card for a really cheap $5.19.
Free (or almost free) Gift Ideas
A few years ago I wrote an article titled, 50 Valentine’s Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank, which details some great out-of-the-box ideas to woo your wife. A few of my favorites include the following:
- Leave stick-it notes around the house; write the things you love about her on them.
- Clean out the refrigerator and put her favorite Jamba Juice smoothie inside.
- Wash and vacuum her car and leave a nice note inside.
- Do the grocery shopping and make dinner for her.
- Organize the 2 messiest drawers or cupboards in the house that drive her crazy.
- Get some paint swatches and offer to paint a room in the house how ever she wants.
- Dinner date? Come to the front door and pretend it is your first date.
- Do the laundry and put all the clothes away.
- Make her a music mix (or playlist) with songs that remind you of her.
The comments on my “50 gift ideas” article were very interesting as some folks apparently think I’m a total jerk of a husband for even suggesting some of these. Please chime in with a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Happy savings and I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart. Just make sure it’s NOT at full price!
By Kyle James
Have you ever been stuck with something that is brand spanking new that you know you’ll NEVER need or use? Since it’s just a couple short weeks after Christmas I am guessing that darn near everyone reading this can relate in one way or another. Whether it be that Duck Dynasty t-shirt and Christmas DVD your Mom gave you, or that 2nd crock pot from the in-laws, there is always something you wish you [...] Continue Reading…
Have you ever considered trying an online “Subscribe & Save” program to try and save money on household essentials? They sound great…but do they actually save you money? No doubt they save you time as you no longer have to shop for items that are often big and bulky as they’ll get mailed to your home automatically and on a regular basis.
The two most popular subscription programs right now are from Amazon.com (Details) and [...] Continue Reading…
The week after Christmas is often when shoppers head back to the store to return or exchange gifts, or maybe use a gift card they got in their stocking. But did you know the these days right after Christmas is one of the best times of the year to score a bargain? It’s a time when stores start to have the “Clear It Out” mentality and start slashing prices left and right. So now [...] Continue Reading…
Procrastinating your Christmas shopping just might save you a BUNCH of money this year. Well, now that you have found this article anyway. While shopping year-round and only buying when you find screaming deals is typically the best way to save on your shopping, these 6 tips just might help you save even more money. Use them wisely, protect them closely, and unleash them often young Jedi. May the force (and savings) be with [...] Continue Reading…
I was recently doing a story with NBC 12′s “Diva of Discounts”, Jennifer Warnick, in Richmond, Virginia, and after our Skype interview she asked me about the smartphone apps that I like to use to save money when shopping. I rattled off a couple and it quickly became quite apparent that she knew way more about the subject than I. So being the smart blogger that I am, I just shut my mouth and simply [...] Continue Reading…
As I have talked about many times, I am a huge fan of trying to figure out the best times to make online purchases to maximize savings in terms of both deals and coupons made available by popular retailers. So I dug back through 5 years of data here at Rather-Be-Shopping.com and figured out when we get the best deals and coupons sent to us in December. I then broke the data up by [...] Continue Reading…
Have you ever bought something only to notice in the retailer’s next flyer that the item is now on sale? If you have, and you are a bargain shopper like me, you know it can be maddening and make you want to shoot an Amazon drone or glue your butt to the toilet seat at the Home Depot. But fortunately all hope is not lost as many major retailers will happily offer you a [...] Continue Reading…
So here we are again. Black Friday is right around the corner and the ads are starting to pop up so I figured it was time to document and dissect them to help you find some real buying opportunities. It is also important to remember that not all Black Friday deals are created equal and many items are actually cheaper closer to Christmas or at a different time of the year. See my article [...] Continue Reading…