This week’s tip roundup also includes lessons learned from taking on DIY projects, from observing the business model of discount supermarkets, and from not shopping for 127 days in a row.
3 steps to getting up to 50% off on every purchase. The strategies here start with buying discounted gift cards, a system explained fully in a Q&A with a woman who lived exclusively on gift cards for a month. Overall, the gist for getting discounts on nearly everything is this:
So if you bought a gift card with a 30% discount and you used a coupon for 20% discount, you will pay less than half price. Time your purchase during the sales, you can easily come out with 80% or more in discounts.
4 things retailers hope you won’t realize. The rich seem to have realized the foolishness of paying full-price in today’s discount-crazed shopping environment. Here’s an insight that’s harder to realize:
Know that companies prey on your unconscious mind.
Clever businesses create advertising and marketing campaigns that appeal to your subconscious. That makes perfect business sense, but it’s bad for consumers who end up making the wrong purchasing decisions.
4 reasons to bike to work. Beyond, you know, that we’re on the eve of Bike to Work Week and you’re interesting in jumping (or pedaling) onto the bandwagon, there are many logical reasons to use leg power to get to work, like:
A bike ride is more fun than the elliptical. Biking is also a reason to reconsider that gym membership. The average cost is $30 to $60 a month, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. But you might be spending a lot more if you live in a major city. And a scenic bike ride is a lot more tempting than an hour on the elliptical at a gym, particularly in summer.
4 things I learned by not shopping for 127 days. Here’s a blogger who went on quite a shopping fast, with no inessential purchases (gadgets, fashion, etc.) for a seriously long time period. Among the lessons learned during the non-shopping journey:
It’s easier to look forward to something when you are not spending. Many ideas run through your head, such as that next renovation, bigger purchases, such as a car and different investing ideas. Yes, it’s true, all these ideas ran through my head at some point or another. I can proudly say that despite it being a painful journey of not splurging, it has given me a sense of renewed optimism.
5 frugal lessons I learned from Aldi. Unfamiliar with Aldi? It’s a low-cost upstart supermarket chain from Germany that’s been expanding rapidly in the U.S. Sure, Aldi is good for inexpensive groceries, but consumers can also take cues from the way the business operates. Here’s a lesson that works for the grocery store, and for the average household:
DIY Saves Money
Shopping without much floor help and bagging your own groceries is just part of the simplicity ethos that defines the Aldi shopping experience. With few exceptions, you’re on your own in an Aldi store (just the way I like it), and this DIY approach to shopping saves you money.
5 DIY lessons from a recent DIY project. Speaking of DIY, building a kids’ playset yielded wisdom such as:
Buy in Bulk
The playset has a big sandbox so I called around Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart to price sandbox sand. Lowe’s was the cheapest but they were out and Wal-Mart was the most expensive. We needed almost 1000 lbs of sand, which would have cost us about $100 after tax at Home Depot. Instead we picked it up ourselves from a local landscaping company for only $18.83.
5 surprising items you should buy secondhand. Hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers can last decades, and through multiple owners. Now if only it was easier to find them secondhand for cheap:
Hand tools are not a technology that changes from year to year. A screwdriver is a screwdriver, whether it was built last week or in the last decade. There is no need to buy new tools when gently used ones are available. Check Craigslist for estate sales or for local shops going out of business.
5 ways it pays to skip supermarket cards. On the one hand, using a store’s loyalty card basically means never having to pay full price. On the other, the consumer gives something up by giving blind loyalty to any store:
Research has borne out that customers who use a loyalty or rewards card spend more per location than those who do not…
From a marketing and advertising perspective, it is also more cost-effective for supermarkets to get existing customers to spend more — and more often — than what would be needed to attract new customers. All that collected data allow them to save on advertising and target those efforts more efficiently.
5 negotiation strategies overused by tough customers. Instead of threatening to go to a competitor, here’s a recommendation:
Be honest, try to gain empathy, and leave the competitor out of it. Here is some suggested dialogue for a better approach: “I really appreciate you working with me on this potential sale. I love this store and if I was going to buy item X from anywhere, it would be here. The thing is, this item is just a little out of my price range. I know that’s not your problem but it’s why I don’t think I can make a purchase today. Is there anyway you could work with me to take a little off the price?”
6 tips to getting the best deal on your rent. Some comparison shopping is in order:
After finding a place you’re interested in, look for comparable rentals to make sure its rent price is competitive. HotPads.com shows how rentals compare with others in the area. Rentometer.com analyzes how a particular rent compares with others in the neighborhood.
10 things you can get for free or cheap. Big roundup of mostly previously posted tips at Lifehacker includes tips for getting out of speeding tickets:
We’ve gone through quite a few ways to get out of a speeding ticket, and while it isn’t foolproof, you can probably get some of those tickets thrown out. Not every trick is perfect, either, so you’ll have to try them out and see what works for you.
13 things you didn’t know about composting. Hair, dryer lint, and paper napkins can all be composted, and that’s not all:
Other items perfect for compost are coffee filters, stale bread, towels, leaves, straw, hay, twigs, small wood chips, and dried grass. These items are considered “brown” and need to be balanced with “green” items, including fruit and vegetable scraps, houseplant cuttings, coffee grounds, rice, pasta, egg shells broken into very small pieces, tea bags, flowers, vegetables, plant trimmings, hedge clippings, small amounts of grass.
14 ways to save money on damn near everything. Composting is one way to use nature. Here’s another:
Borrow from nature
Before running out and spending a bunch of money on mature plants you’re sure to kill, ask your neighbors if they’re willing to split their flowers with you or if they have any plants you could use as starters.