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You know what’s even more fun than spending money? Not spending as much money --- and getting your purchase at a discount.
It can almost feel like cheating when you know you’re paying less for that new coffee maker, dress or computer monitor than nearly everyone else.
There’s more than one way to save when you go to pay. Here are a few of my favorite techniques.
1. Shop online first
Next time you're tempted to hop in your car and head to the nearest strip mall, check the store's website first. Why? Because you can nearly always find some kind of discount code or coupon.
Many department stores, for example, will offer you a discount if you just sign up for their email list. They’re going to have your email anyway once you complete the purchase, so it makes sense to sign up ahead of time and enjoy the savings.
2. Use a cash-back shopping portal
Sites like Ebates, ibotta and TopCashback will give you a rebate (money back!) every time you've passed through their site first, on your way to spending at your favorite e-tailer.
The rebate percentages vary but generally range from 1% to 6% back. It’s literally as easy as two clicks to earn cash back on your purchase. Most of the cash-back portals have apps, too, for shopping on the go.
3. Get a credit card with price protection
Even if you bought an item at what you thought was a rock-bottom price, it pays to have price protection, like Citi's Price Rewind.
For example, let’s say you bought a sweater online that was marked down to $49.99 from $69.99. You purchased it through a cash-back portal that offered you a 3% rebate, so you know you’ll be getting back $1.50 (3% of $49.99).
Let's say you also paid using a credit card with price protection, and a week later you see that same sweater marked down even further, to $29.99. You can file a claim with your credit card company within 90 days to get a $20 refund of the additional savings.
Paribus is an app that works in similar fashion and automatically gets you money back when prices drop.
4. Track prices until you see a hot deal
Just because you spy an item at what seems like a good price doesn’t mean that it is. Make sure you’re paying the lowest price available by using a price tracking website or app.
One site, camelcamelcamel, tracks the history of prices on Amazon, so you know if the current price is the lowest price or if you should hold off until it dips. Another tracker, Slickdeals, can tell if an item you’re about to buy is cheaper elsewhere.