The Alternative Brands That Are Cheaper (and Often Just as Good)

February 11, 2016 by Kyle
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By knowing which expensive items have cheaper alternatives, we can always opt for the best value and save a bunch of money in the process. But often the problem is knowing which brands are the best buys. Without reading through hundreds of Amazon product reviews, some of which are fake, it can be hard to figure out which brands are smart buys. So when I saw a recent BuzzFeed article talking about 13 cheaper product alternatives I knew it was worth sharing. Below are the highlights so you can make better buying decisions in the future.

KitchenAid MIxer

Here are a few of the most glaring examples where the more expensive brand is often NOT noticeably better in terms of quality and features.

  • Blender: Vitamix vs. Ninja  – This blender battle has been well documented in the past and the $121 Ninja blender is absolutely comparable to the $450 Vitamix. So what, the Ninja might be a little louder and seconds slower, I can easily live with both and be over $300 richer in the process.
  • Vacuum: Dyson vs. Shark – At $400 the Dyson DC41 is spendy fun-suck. I’ll happily opt for the $160 Shark Navigator which actually sucks way more.
  • Stand Mixer: Kitchen Aid vs. Hamilton Beach – Save an easy $100 by opting for the highly regarded $200 Hamilton Beach stand mixer over the $300 KitchenAid mixer.
  • Espresso Machine: Rancilio Silvia vs. DeLonghi – If espresso is your thing, save a butt load of money an opt for the powerful $140 DeLonghi machine. Leave the $685 Rancilio Silvia for the local coffee shop.
  • Tablet: iPad vs. Google Nexus – If you’re in the market for a new Tablet, the 2nd rated Nexus comes in at $400 while the top-rated Apple iPad comes in at $500+. According to reviewers, you’re paying for the Apple name and the cute Macintosh apple logo on the back.
  • Noise Canceling Headphones: Bose QuietComfort vs. Sony MDRNC7  – This one is my favorite. If you’ve ever priced Bose noise-cancelling headphones, you know they’re quite expensive at over $260. If you find yourself on a loud airplane several times per week, they may be worth the money, but for infrequent travel and office use, the 4-star Sony version ($99) will more than suffice.
  • Memory Foam Mattress: Tempur-pedic vs. NovosBed – At only $800, the NovosBed appears to be a great buy when comparing it to the $3,600 Tempur-pedic mattress.  This is especially true when you compare material and owner satisfaction with each. Although, as a faithful Tempur-pedic sleeper, I’d want to test out the NovosBed for a couple nights first.
  • Cables: Monster vs. Monoprice – If the cable is less than 6 feet long, the cheaper Monoprice cable ($4-$10) is a very smart buy compared to Monster brand cables ($30 and up). This is especially true for HDMI cables as the average TV viewer will never be able to tell the difference in terms of picture and audio quality.
  • Chef’s Knife: Shun vs. Victorinox – At a spendy $125, the Shun knife is a popular top-of-the-line chef’s knife. But….the comparable Victorinox for a mere $35 is a solid knife with some very positive reviews. Heck, you could buy 3 Victorinox for the price of a single Shun knife.

Ask the Reader: Have you had success with any of the cheaper brands mentioned above? Or maybe other products that weren’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out the full BuzzFeed article below to see all of the 13 products they highlighted:

13 Cheaper Alternatives To Life’s Expensive Necessities | BuzzFeed
Kyle
By Kyle James

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How To Score an Elusive Walmart “Online” Price Match

February 9, 2016 by Kyle
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Walmart now has an online price match policy in place where they’ll match the online price of 30 popular websites. Who knew? Certainly not me until I just recently stumbled across the page buried on their website talking about how it worked. And guess what, it’s pretty cool and the only big-brand store to offer an official online price-match policy (to my knowledge). Be sure to take advantage of it when you find a lower online price than Walmart.com. And yes, it absolutely will happen, especially if you’re consistently doing price comparisons when making significant online purchases. Here is how to get a Walmart online price match.

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Which 30 Online Stores Does Walmart Price Match?

First of all, most shoppers are wondering which 30 online retailers Walmart will price match. Here they are, in alphabetical order: Academy.com, Amazon, Auto Zone, Babies R Us, Bass Pro Shops, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, DollarGeneral, FamilyDollar, Home Depot, JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Michaels, NewEgg.com, Office Depot, O’Reilly Auto, Pep Boys, Petco, PetSmart, Sears, Sports Authority, Staples, Target, TigerDirect.com, Toys R Us, and Walgreens.

How the Online Price-Match Works:

If you find a lower price at one of the above 30 stores, compared to what Walmart.com is selling the item for, you’ve hit pay-dirt. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before you place your order on Walmart.com, simply contact Walmart.com Customer Service or give them a jingle at 1-800-966-6546.
  2. Let them know about the cheaper price and they’ll independently verify the competitor’s price.
  3. Items must be identical and in-stock at the competitor’s website in order for this to work.
  4. Walmart limits the number of items you can price-match to one-per-customer, per item, per day.
  5. Items where a price-match is most common, and beneficial, include HDTV’s, laptop computers, gadgets, small kitchen appliances, and sporting goods.
  6. Also, Walmart.com will NOT price match items between Thanksgiving and Cyber-Monday.

Get an “In-Store” Online Price-Match Too

You can also get a price-match when shopping in-store at Walmart. If one of the above 30 online retailers has a cheaper price than the brick & mortar Walmart store in your town, just request the price match right at the register. Keep in mind that the store manager will have the final decision for matching an online price. I recommend showing evidence of the lower price directly on your smartphone to make the process as seamless as possible.

BONUS: Get a Walmart Price Adjustment

From the Walmart website, “If an item previously purchased from Walmart.com (not including items from a third-party seller on our site) is now listed at a lower price, and the item is within its eligible return window, contact Walmart.com Customer Care at 1.800.966.6546 to receive an adjustment for the price difference.” A total no-brainer, especially on significant purchases. So be sure to keep your receipts and check periodically check the Walmart site for a price-drop.

Interestingly, they don’t stipulate a time period to receive your price-adjustment. So I started a chat session with Walmart.com and the operator told me, that in most cases, you have 90 days to get a price adjustment if the Walmart.com price goes down. This 90 days can vary a little depending on the item, but he told me it coincides with Walmart’s 90 day return policy.

Ask the Reader: Have you gotten a Walmart price match before? If so, was it a painless process or more hassle than it’s worth.


By Kyle James

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Frugal Hack #32: Buy the Identical and Cheaper Versions of Name Brands

February 1, 2016 by Kyle
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One of my favorite store purchases is always the cheaper version of products that are just as good, if not better, than the more expensive name-brand. But the problem for most shoppers is they have not idea what products fall into this category, and smartly, don’t want to randomly start buying generics just to test them out as it could be a total waste of money. So to help you out, I researched the cheaper version of many name-brand items, which in many cases, are actually produced by the name-brand and simply repackaged and sold for less. Below is what I found. I hope it helps you make some smart buying decisions in the future.

Kirkland brand

Costco

Here are the Costco Kirkland brand items that are rumored to be produced by the popular (and more expensive) name-brand.

  • Kirkland Signature Craft Beer = Gordon Biersch: I love Gordon Biersch beer, and guess what, I love Kirkland craft beer too. Go figure.
  • Kirkland Signature Premium Small Batch Bourbon = Buffalo Trace: From Insider Louisville, “Kirkland is from Buffalo Trace and tastes like Jim Beam — a little bit, anyway.”
  • Kirkland Vodka = Grey Goose: The fact that we’re even having the conversation tells me to always buy the WAY cheaper Kirkland brand vodka.
  • Kirkland Scotch = Macallan 18: A great way to save on a quality Scotch is to buy the Kirkland brand.
  • Kirkland Tuna = Bumble Bee: According to a bunch of Amazon reviews, Kirkland Tuna tastes just like, or better, than Bumblebee Tuna.
  • Kirkland Diapers = Huggies: Apparently the Kirkland brand of diapers is made by Huggies.
  • Kirkland Laundry Detergent = Good chance it’s made by Sun.

Trader Joe’s

If you shop at Trader Joe’s here are some brands to be aware of.

  • Pita Chips = Stacy’s (Frito-Lay): But them at Trader Joe’s for significantly less.
  • Cream of Tomato Soup = Pacific: I’ve never had the soup, but apparently it’s pretty good.
  • Indian Food = Tasty Bite Brand: If you like Indian food, buy it from TJ’s and save.
  • Organic Shells and White Cheddar = Annie’s Homegrown: Never had it. Can it possibly be better than Kraft Mac & Cheese?
  • Yogurt = Stonyfield Farms: I love their yogurt and it’s definitely priced right.
  • Pretzel Chips = Snack Factory: Get your snack fix at TJ’s and save money.
  • Veggie Chili = Amy’s: Yummmm, chili.

Other Products to be Aware of:

  • Girl Scout Cookies = Keebler: Looking for a cheaper cookie fix than the pricey Girl Scout box? Check out this great Lifehacker article to see which cookie alternative fits the bill.
  • Victoria’s Secrets pantyhose = Hanes: Shop the Hanes brand pantyhose and get Victoria’s Secret quality for less cash.

Ask the Reader: Any products that I might be missing? Let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out, thanks.

Happy savings.


By Kyle James

Photo by m01229.

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The Stores and Restaurants Known to Accept Expired Coupons

January 27, 2016 by Kyle
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(Updated 1/30/16)

When it comes to couponing, there is nothing worse than pulling a coupon out of your purse, or finding it on your smartphone, only to realize it has expired. But all is not lost as some stores and restaurants will still accept expired coupons. Keep in mind that the stores listed below are under no obligation to accept your coupon and results may vary by location. TIP: Always be polite, friendly, and never demand they accept the coupon and your chances of success rise substantially. With that said, here are the retailers known to help you out anyways if you present an expired coupon to them.

Expired Coupon

Arby’s

If you’re craving a Beef ‘N Cheddar on the cheap and can only find an expired coupon in your junk drawer, no worries as they’ll more than likely still accept it. I actually found a TripAdvisor review of an Arby’s in Georgia that talked about re-using an expired Arby’s coupon. From the review, “Accepting expired coupons AND letting me reuse the same coupon? Winning!” While every location might not be as lenient, it’s definitely worth a shot. Sign-up to get Arby’s coupons emailed to you.

Bed Bath and Beyond

The famous 20% off any 1 item coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond can be a real money-saver, especially on significant purchases. But what happens if you can only find an expired coupon before your trip to the store? Simple. Use that bad boy anyways as it’ll either be accepted or the cashier will pull out a “non-expired” coupon from behind the counter and scan it for you. Like with any of these stores, be polite and friendly, and your chances of success rise significantly.

Burger King

When it comes to expired coupons, you absolutely can have it your way at Burger King. Apparently most BK employees don’t even look at the expiration dates and are happy to give you a coupon discount. When ordering from the drive-thru, tell them upfront about the coupon before you place your order, but don’t mention it’s expired. Often times they won’t even ask for the coupon when you get to the pick-up window.

Buy Buy Baby

From personal experience (I have 3 kids), the folks at Buy Buy Baby could seem to care less if a coupon has expired. So always attempt to use, no matter the expiration date, when checking out. If you feel uncomfortable trying to use the expired coupon, just find a non-expired Bed Bath & Beyond coupon and they’ll accept it. (Bethca didn’t know that?)

CVS Pharmacy

CVS changed their coupon policy back in 2013 and became a little more strict about not accepting expired coupons. But…it’s not a hard and fast rule and many cashiers still have the ability to override the system and accept an expired coupon. Key to success is to be polite and friendly when stating your case that they should accept the coupon. My experience has been a success rate hovering around 50%. Your chances go way up if the coupon has only expired in the last few days.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Just this past weekend I was buying a pair of Under Armour shoes from my local Dick’s and the only Dick’s Sporting Goods coupon I could find had expired the week before. On a hunch, I went ahead and showed the cashier the coupon on my smartphone and she scanned it and told me that it had expired. I kinda played dumb and said, “Oh, bummer.” She then said no worries and did an override on her computer and accepted the coupon. I always get great customer service at Dick’s. Always try to use expired coupons and you’ll typically end up with the discount.

Harris Teeter

While the official Harris Teeter coupon policy states that they will not accept expired coupons, I have it on good authority that they absolutely will if you try. This includes manufacturer coupons, and even competitor coupons that have recently expired.

JCPenney

I recently tried to use a 20% off expired JCPenney coupon and the cashier told me I couldn’t use it, but she had one under the counter that she pulled out and scanned for me. I thanked her and asked her if she would have let me use the coupon if I didn’t present the expired one, and she said probably not. She said most cashiers are trained to give the customer a working coupon if they have an expired one. Moral of the story: Always present the expired coupon and you’ll typically end up with a discount of some kind anyways.

Kohl’s

They’ll take expired Kohl’s Cash, but usually not expired Kohl’s coupons, although it never hurts to ask. Apparently the Kohl’s Cash can be REALLY expired too which is great to know. So if you stumble upon some old Kohl’s Cash in your purse or desk drawer, DO NOT throw it away as they’ll accept it anyways.

Lowe’s

Last fall I was installing laminate flooring in my home and needed some tools to get the job done. So off I went to Lowe’s with an expired in-store Lowe’s coupon in my pocket. Granted the coupon expired only 2 days earlier, but my cashier immediately did an override to make the coupon good. I asked if that was standard policy, and he said that most cashiers will override an expired coupon if it has expired within the last 7 days. Great to know.

Michaels

An expired coupon at Michaels simply means you have the wrong coupon. Since they release new coupons every Sunday morning, which are valid through the following Saturday, you should always be able to shop with a Michaels coupon in hand. Sometimes they’ll have a really good coupon for 25% off your entire purchase that only lasts a day or two. If you have one these coupons that’s expired by a week or less, I suggest playing dumb and try to use it. If it gets rejected, the cashier will very often have something very comparable behind the counter that he or she can scan for you. This tip is from my wife who’s scored a great coupon several times doing this.

Petco

Thanks to current employee Geo, who let me know that you can indeed use expired Petco coupons well after the printed expiration date. This works best for Petco’s own in-house coupons, but you should go ahead and try and use expired manufacturer coupons as well. You stand a great chance of saving some money on an otherwise useless coupon.

Petsmart

I have it on good authority from a current employee that Petsmart will indeed take expired coupons. The catch is that they must be Petsmart’s own coupons and not manufacturer coupons. She told me that they’ll actually take Petsmart coupons for up to 6 months beyond their expiration date.

Staples

Staples has been known in recent years to accept their own coupons, even if they’ve expired. Will it work all the time at every location? No. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, as the one time you don’t, is the one time where you’ll probably leave money on the table.

Target

While I couldn’t find any official evidence of them accepting expired Target coupons, I did find a YouTube video of a couponer having success using expired offers at their local Target. Then a little more digging, and I discovered another video telling us the same thing. I’m guessing your mileage will vary by store, but it seems to definitely be worth a shot.

Walmart

Walmart’s official policy is to not accept expired coupons. But because coupons these days are embedded with a high-tech barcode, often times they’ll contain an expiration grace period of several days or even up to a month. Moral of the story: Always try to use expired coupons at Walmart as you stand a great chance of falling into this “grace period”. I learned this from a lady I was checking out behind at Walmart, several of her coupons were expired but were still accepted by the computer when the cashier scanned them.

Happy expired couponing. A great last resort for expired coupons to to mail them overseas where they’ll be accepted at military commissaries.


By Kyle James

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8 Little-Known Secrets to Saving Money on Amazon

January 21, 2016 by Kyle
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There’s no arguing the fact that shopping on Amazon is pretty darn convenient, especially if you’re a Prime member. Who wouldn’t like free 2-day shipping and prices that are almost always competitive with the likes of Walmart and Target? While I have talked about the many perks of a Prime membership before, I thought it was time to delve into some of the lesser known ways to save money on Amazon, many of which […] Continue Reading…

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All The 154 Walmart Stores Closing in the United States

January 15, 2016 by Kyle
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Walmart just announced that they will soon be closing 154 locations in 26 states throughout the U.S., affecting close to 10,000 employees.

The states hit the hardest include Texas (29), North Carolina (17), and Arkansas (11). It will be interesting to see what happens in the communities where a Walmart will be closing. Will new local businesses open up and fill the void? I certainly hope so. My guess is that the Target’s and Kohl’s […] Continue Reading…

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3 Sneaky Tricks to Avoid at the Grocery Store (and Keep More of Your Money)

January 15, 2016 by Kyle
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It’s no secret that stores have gotten very good at tricking you into thinking you’re getting a great deal, especially on items you had no intention of buying in the first place. Whether it’s stocking items at a certain eye level, or using the numbers on the price tag to trick your brain, retailers are experts at separating you from your money. I recently read an article from Consumer Reports that talked about 3 grocery […] Continue Reading…

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The 19 Stores That Will Price Match Walmart’s Low Prices

January 12, 2016 by Kyle
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(Updated 2/04/16)

Do you dislike shopping at Walmart, but love their low prices? If you fall into this large, and quickly growing, group of consumers this article is for you. What if I told you that you could stay out of Walmart altogether and still take advantage of their low prices? Well, by getting a Walmart price-match, you can easily do exactly that. Here are the popular retailers that will happily match the low prices […] Continue Reading…

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The Worst Things to Buy From Costco and Sam’s Club

January 11, 2016 by Kyle
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There’s no doubt that warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club offer great deals for savvy shoppers. Savings that can easily pay for the annual fee if you shop smart. But as with any retail store, there are going to be items that just don’t cut the mustard in terms of the amount of money you can save. Here are the bad buys at Sam’s and Costco that should be bought elsewhere. Let me […] Continue Reading…

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8 Ways to Spot a Fake Coupon…Everytime

January 7, 2016 by Kyle
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Have you ever found a coupon and thought to yourself, “Wow, this bad boy is going to save me a ton of money!” Perhaps it was the 50% off store-wide Target coupon (below) that was floating around Facebook recently. Or maybe it was an online coupon code that promised something for free, or Oakley sunglasses for 90% off the retail price. I almost fell for the latter. The truth of the matter is that fake coupons […] Continue Reading…

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