5 Sites that Save You Money on Your Retail Spending
By Mark Hull
As someone interested in financial freedom, you are probably pretty cognizant of where your money goes. You use cash back credit cards, put your money in high yield savings accounts, and try to save on
purchases wherever you can.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the best deals, though. We are creatures of habit and tend to look in the same, familiar places. Everyone knows that companies like Amazon have great prices and free Prime shipping, but is it always the best bargain?
Here are five lesser known resources that shoppers can use to save on retail purchases.
SnagShout has partnered with Amazon to offer discounted prices on a wide variety of retail products. They offer deals on everything from electronics, car accessories, and beauty supplies to home office items like printer ink and even cheesy greeting cards. While using the site, I’ve seen discounts in excess of 90%. The prices offered are legitimate, and as long as the item is listed as available on the SnagShout website, you can claim the savings on Amazon’s marketplace.
This is a great website to find outstanding discounts with minimal hassle. You are essentially getting paid to write reviews for Amazon and the product seller – and it’s a fair deal for you as the consumer. As long as you comply with the rules of the road (which are very easy) you can get great deals on the next thing you and your family need to buy. Best of all, SnagShout is free.
The retail categories include Beauty and Health, Cars (accessories), Clothing/Shoes/Jewelry, Electronics and Computers, Grocery, Home, Garden & Tools, Kids & Baby, Media, Office Supplies, Pet Supplies, Sports & Outdoors, Toys, and Vitamins/Supplements. There’s something available for everyone.
So, what’s the catch? Each deal you claim is called a snag. SnagShout provides these amazing deals through arrangements with the manufacturer and marketer of the product you buy. Sellers always need reviews, so this is one way they can quickly get honest feedback from customers. To earn these great savings, you’re just required to publish an unbiased review on the product. The review must have a disclaimer that lets everyone know you received a discounted price in exchange for that review.
The review doesn’t necessarily have to be positive, but it needs to be done quickly. Waiting too long can forfeit the credit for your review, as retailers often remove products from Amazon. In this case, you have no way of verifying your purchase with SnagShout. You’d lose out on earning a new snag credit, which you need to buy more discounted products. My suggestion? As soon as you receive the product and check it out, hop online and write a quick review. Once the comment is verified, you’re rewarded with more snags and can keep saving.
The guideline on the SnagShout FAQ is to publish no later than 2 weeks after snagging a deal (provided you’ve received the product by then). The FAQ also provides the disclaimer you should place in your review (verbatim) to ensure you’re meeting the SnagShout policy for service.
Purchases will be made on Amazon using a promo code. Simply click the “Snag It” button on the item you want to commit to the deal, copy the promo code, and complete your purchase on Amazon. Remember to enter the promo code when you’re checking out to receive your discount. Note that a snag is only good for one of each item. Initially you’ll only be able to snag one deal at a time. This means you’ll have to publish the review on your first product prior to being awarded an additional snag. Your snag limit is increased if you are faithful to review products in a timely manner, and the more you shop, the more chances you have to save.
The process is mostly pain-free, aside from the initial setup of linking your Amazon account to the SnagShout system. You can also link your Facebook account or use an email address for SnagShout’s login information.
Bonus: If you validate your phone number on SnagShout you’ll be eligible to receive more than one snag at a time.
Boasting over 500,000 coupons for 50,000 stores, RetailMeNot is your one-stop source for discount shopping at all of your favorite stores. While not all published deals are exclusive to the RetailMeNot service, you can be sure they’ll have the most up-to-date information on which stores are offering sales either online or in store.
RetailMeNot is available via their mobile phone app, which is easy to use and intuitive. When you see a deal you like, save it in your wallet with one click of the star button (on your desktop browser or in the app). If you want to find the nearest locations offering discounts, you can enter your zip code online or let the app to view your location. The RetailMeNot app will then offer discounts whenever you are near a store that has a coupon you can use. Push notifications let you know you’re in an area with qualifying coupons.
The mobile coupon capability is handy feature for the RetailMeNot user. If a big name retailer is offering an in-store only coupon, the app has got you covered. You can view the coupon value, terms of sale, and show the saved coupon to the cashier as you check out. If for some reason a store won’t accept your coupon, you’re instructed to contact the RetailMeNot team right away via email. You can also email coupons to yourself or to friends via the share option.
The user community at RetailMeNot has the option of submitting coupons and deals so others can share in the savings. You won’t earn any perks by doing this other than continuing the tradition of couponers and savers sharing their savings discoveries with one another.
RetailMeNot also offers international coupons. There are nine different internationally-oriented RetailMeNot websites for the likes of the U.K., Germany, Australia, Canada and more.
RetailMeNot is partnered with the Deal Squad™, a team of agents who dedicate their time to finding you the best deals on specific products. Say you’d like to find a KitchenAid mixer. You provide them with a copied-and-pasted link to the website that sells the product, and they’ll do the rest. It’s akin to having a personal shopper do the deal hunting for you. Savings rates with this special service can top 20%. For access search for Deal Squad on the RetailMeNot webpage or your favorite search engine. According to the Squad FAQ, agents are dedicated shoppers and savers like you who have years of experience hunting down the best deals. Examples of recent deals found by the agents can be seen on the DealSquad™ page. When I checked it out, it included Prada sunglasses at 50% off and Beats headphones for 28% off.
When signing up for the DealSquad™, you can opt in for alternative product recommendations (similar items or other version) and even refurbished products. After you confirm the product you’re looking for, the Squad will respond within 24 hours with the following deal types: Auctions, Coupon codes, Alternate retailers, Cash back rebates, Store card offers, and Discounted gift cards that can be used to purchase the item on your wish list.
For my test run of the Squad, I asked them to find me a deal on a KitchenAid Professional Mixer. Five hours later, I received my answer. The verdict? A savings of about $400 off the list price. This is pretty good, and it brought a price that was lower than the top result on Amazon’s marketplace. Scanning through other online retailers, the price the DealSquad™ offered was lower than roughly 50% of those I found.
DealSquad™ is still in beta (testing) phase, but it looks promising. The full version will be released at a later date.
Gift Card Zen
Gift Card Zen was recently acquired by RetailMeNot. It’s a discounted gift card retailer that allows you to purchase gift cards below face value. In essence, this equates to buying a dollar for less than a dollar. Card Zen buys cards from shoppers and retailers, then turns around and sells them.
There are cards from over 130 big name retailers in the searchable database of gift cards. I was able to find savings of over 30% on clothing stores by purchasing a $30 gift card for $20. Deals don’t last long – they often sell quickly and the supply for each retailer will fluctuate throughout the year.
Users can also sell their unused gift cards for cash. Unfortunately, you might not get as much for them as you’d hope. My test run of a $25 gift card produced an offer of $15.25! If you’re in a pinch, this can be a last resort for ditching those unused gifts. Be sure to note that Card Zen is not always accepting all cards for purchase. You’ll need to check out their website to see if they are currently buying your store’s gift card.
Focused on local shopping, Retale is a weekly ad finder that consolidates all your local ad printouts in one place. It’s available online or on Android and iOS platforms for iPhone and iPad, for easy mobile use.
I hardly ever use coupons, and I’m impressed with how easy Retale makes it to find and preserve them in a format I can use. Sign-up requires either an email account, Facebook, or Google+ account, then you’re on your way. Once you set up your location and identify the main stores you’d like to follow, you’re taken to a list of all the weekly ads in your area (including some not on your list). Retale provides the nearest store locations and operating hours inside each weekly ad you review.
The seamless interface allows you to “clip” the coupons you want and save them on your phone. Like RetailMeNot, when it’s time for checkout you can have the barcode scanned by the cashier. The mobile app includes a shopping list feature: use this to search for the product you’ve had on your wish (or shopping) list and Retale will bring up the weekly ad or coupon that addresses your need. You can add as many items as you like to your list.
If you’re not impressed yet, there’s more. Inside the ad, you can click the push pin button to bring up a magnifying glass. Place that over the item you want, give it a title (like TV), and it will save to your shopping list. From there, go back to your shopping list to reveal that Retale has identified other ads offering the same product.
View similar ads with the click of a button and search within the weekly ads to cross compare prices with other stores. There are interactive ads with video and direct links to the online retailers. If the weekly ad contains coupons, you can clip all coupons with one click. Then, share your finds with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and email via the in-app feature.
I stumbled across a unique website for lovers of J. Crew clothing. While ThreadStatswon’t help you save on other brands, you’re sure to find a great deal and know the best time to buy any J. Crew product. A savings-minded shopper transformed his passion for J. Crew into a functional search engine. It provides users with the information they need to get the best deal from that company either online or in-store. I highlight this particular website to show that there are frugal-minded shoppers out there who will share their money-saving resources with others.
You can search among five categories on ThreadStats: Men, Women, Boys, Girls, and Baby. Narrow your search results with rankings for Sale %-off, Construction Materials, 30 Day Low, Fit Type, and Sale Price Range. The 30-day low option identifies whether or not the price trend for that product is at the lowest in recent history.
Prices are updated daily, and you can opt in for email alerts. The site provides a daily price history chart for each product and advanced product search features.
Break Out of Your Echo Chamber
As internet users, we tend to get lost in our little niche of websites and information sources. It’s hard to break out of these echo chambers we create for ourselves, where the same web searches and sites produce the same results. I hope these five resources will help you expand your horizons when it comes to online shopping and getting the best deal for you and your family.
An internet query or a browse through your favorite app is all it takes to break free and save extra dough. Check them out and find which one works best for you. Then, drop us a note in the comments with your favorite(s)!
Low Cost Family Activities to Get You Through the End of Summer
by Jesse Campbell on May 25, 2016
Across the country, the final bell is ringing. With the arrival of summer comes the end to yet another school year. And just like that,hordes of children across the country are released into the wild, temporarily free from the structured bonds of school life.
As teachers and administrators bask in their brief respite, parents must once again find adequate distractions for their energetic, inquisitive children – hopefully without breaking the bank.
No worries. Turns out there are tons of fun, low cost ways to have fun as a family this summer. Here are just a few to get you started.
Whether your kids are high-energy or couch potatoes, everyone benefits from increased exercise. So why not turn that exercise into a family bonding activity? Go for a daily walk around the neighborhood together, a hike through the local woods, or ride bikes as far as they’ll take you (if you’ve got the bikes). Fresh air, exercise, and togetherness is a hard combination to beat.
Many communities hold free (or very cheap) movie nights throughout the summer, projecting movies in public places like the local park. There’s also a good chance your local cinema holds special low-cost, weekday screenings for kids and their families. Keep an eye out for those opportunities.
Start a mutual hobby
Find a hobby that’s interesting for both you and your children and pursue it together. You can try painting, sewing, quilting, bird watching, and all variety of collecting. Once you find something everyone can invest in, you’ll find the time just melts away.
Museums and zoos
Many museums and zoos have special low-cost days for families. It’s probably going to be crowded, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. Also, don’t overlook the smaller, quirkier attractions in your town. They’re usually significantly cheaper, but just as memorable.
If you visit KidsBowlFree.com and register your kids, they can receive 2 free games every day all summer long from a participating bowling alley. That’s a lot of bowling.
Read to each other
Parents and children read to each other regularly when children are very young. Unfortunately, as kids get older, we tend to stop reading to one another, which is a shame because it never actually stops being fun. Seriously. Try it. There’s something wonderful about listening to someone read a story you love – it gives the story a whole new life.
Camping can be expensive if you want to invest in all the best gear. For family fun, however, all you really need is a tent and a campfire and a sky full of stars. Heck, you don’t even have to leave your own backyard.
Start a garden
Depending on how much space you have available, it may only be a tiny herb garden, but planting something and nurturing it to fruition is a fun way to bond and learn something in the process. Plus, as a bonus, you get some fresh produce!
Find a cause you all agree is important and go to work. You can use VolunteerMatch.org to help connect you with the appropriate events and organizations in your area.