Piggy banks: that’s how people used to save money in small increments. Day by day, we dropped pennies that were earned from withstanding the temptation of candy bars, from redeeming coupons, from grocery shopping change, or from the cigarettes that we decided not to buy and smoke. And slowly, surely, from those pennies we put together our savings.
But piggy banks are so unfashionable these days. Go to any website that shares tips on how to save money and none of them will start talking about piggy banks. Instead there would be a wide variety of advice, and gas-saving driving techniques, or debates on whether or not to use credit cards, and heads-up blog posts on hot (and discounted) shopping deals. There would be so many alternatives to the traditional porcelain coin saver – ranging from the effective to the “are you sure this will work?”, from the tried and tested to the wacky and wild. “Don’t buy ketchup,” one comic writer said. “Unplug the clocks in your house while sleeping,” wrote another. With prices of everything going up, people want to live cheap – and they are trying in more ways than one.
Some don’t work. (Like forgetting the barbershop and cutting your own hair.) Some do.
And it’s really up to us to decide how we can keep from spending money unnecessarily. It’s our choice as consumers which advice we will heed. There are plenty to choose from – depending on who you are and what you do. Just to come up with a few examples: If you’re the sort of person managing all kinds of stuff in the household, organize a garage sale. If you’re the kind who has to get around places because of work, think of the best ways to commute. If you’re a photographer, start processing your pictures in digital darkrooms. If you are running a business, then explore the possibility of taking a turn towards the economical and paperless. If you’re an avid online shopper, then take advantage of the resurgence of online coupon codes. If you’re a talker, then subscribe to a prepaid phone. If you have some spare time to kill go for paid surveys, that way you can earn just enough to spend it on your online shopping. If you’re a maker of piggy banks, well – start thinking of a new career.
After all, the key to saving money is not to stop buying, but to start buying wisely. And the key to buying wisely is to understand the value of what we are paying for. Ask yourself if there’s a compelling need to make the purchase, or if it’s only just a luxury. Check prices. Compare prices. Study product or service reviews. Determine best mode of payment. And, in our own personal ways, make sacrifices.
It’s the same principle as saving on a piggy bank, really. We take the same small terms with the view of the same long-term perspective. Only now, we don’t drop pennies on pork. We are entering pasting coupon codes on boxes.
To make informed choices when buying products, you need information on the price, quality and the types of products available. You can get this information by shopping around – either directly, or by going to a number of different websites and comparing what is on offer. Look at the prices and then weigh up what you will get for your money before you make up your mind.
Use Discount Sites / Bargain sites
These are general discount sites where you’ll find deals on everything from clothing and digital cameras to diamond earrings. They get excess merchandise from other retailers and sell the merchandise at bargain prices. Examples of bargain sites include Slickdeals and Ebates.
Use Coupon sites and Deal Aggregators
These sites provide a wide variety of coupons, promotional codes and discounts across the internet. They lead you to retailers, rather than selling you the merchandise directly. Examples: Retailmenot and Groupon.
Use Classifieds or Auction sites
With most goods, buying straight from the high street will add a considerable sum to the price tag. It’s possible to make vast savings by purchasing your item second-hand. You can buy most merchandise cheaper from auction sites such as EBay and Amazon online.
Drop Brand Names
You can easily get cheaper products by opting for lesser-known names in the market. These cheaper items are usually as good as some of the more expensive varieties from the big companies. In some instances, you’ll only be paying for the name because some of the products are manufactured by the same companies.
There are many other ways to save money while shopping online, but shopping around before you buy makes it easier to get the best value on various products and services.