As the economy improves, saving money on retail purchases may be harder

Yesterday, the Washington Post had an article entitled, “The golden days of ’40 percent off’ sales are over.” The premise was that saving money will now be a bit harder as retailers look to regain profits lost during heavy discounting in recent years. Naturally, I was intrigued by the article, but not too alarmed. We’ll look at what this really means, and what you can do about it.

Because a store lists items at “40% off,” enticing you to enter because of the perceived “deal,” it may be an item that was a poor seller. Retailers are focused on saving money, too, and want to clear low performing inventory ASAP. Also, the item may have been way overpriced previously and no longer a competitive deal, so they need to discount it, too. Or, an item may have been a loss leader just to get you in the store. By advertising a big deal on an item that the retailer makes little, if any profit on, if one feels they are getting a deal, one might be more inclined to buy more than they had intended. Volume is where money is then made.

Saving money is still possible

saving moneyOk, we eliminated three of perhaps several reasons why discounts occur. So, we are left with “higher” prices than before as the discounts are removed. If saving money is still the goal, how can we achieve it? Simple. Using many of the tricks I have discussed in the past, we can still comparison shop, buy discounted gift cards (10% off Macy’s card, for example), look for promotional coupons that might exist, and track prices online and receive alerts when prices drop.

Just because prices may be climbing doesn’t mean saving money is over, we may just need to look a little harder for them and plan accordingly. I am here to help.

Old school money saving tip: the $.83 ATM “fee” for withdraws

Tonight, I was reminded of an old money saving trick I use when I am out of cash and don’t want to pay a massive ATM surcharge if my bank is not near by. I don’t have a card that refunds out-of-network ATM fees, so whenever I am low on cash and not near my bank, I look for money saving alternatives for ATM withdraws. I don’t use cash often for a lot of reasons, mostly because I don’t like carrying it but also because I don’t earn any points or cash back when buying things.The small inconvenience in time is worth the long-term point return.

To by-pass the horrendous ATM fee I would have paid using a “foreign” ATM, I visited a nearby CVS where I know sells sparkling water for around $.83. This way, all I have to pay is $.83 and I get to withdraw cash. Hey, I get to have delicious water rather than waste that and much more on a surcharge, a no-brainer for me. So, I bought the water, used my debit card, and withdrew the max $40.

The money saving lesson learned here is that if you don’t have an account with a bank, such as USAA, expect to get hosed on out-of-network fees from both your bank and the offending ATM. Even worse, there’s a chance your card information might get stolen if you use one of those ATMs that’s not even attached to a bank. Here’s a warning sign:

money saving


This is a much better, safer money saving alternative

Embrace a drugstore or grocery store money withdraw instead of a scary looking, expensive ATM by buying something cheap, like water, and request additional cash back.

saving money

Credit: wikimedia


Verizon Customers – Get More Data for Less

If you are a Verizon Wireless customer, be on the look out for a new offer for more data at your same monthly rate. A few weeks ago, we got a letter from Verizon promoting “Get 1GB of Extra Data for the Same Price.” Of course, I was intrigued. Currently, we pay about $60/3GB for our “More Everything Plan.” We are moderate data users, so this is about all we need. But, with an offer for 4GB at the same price, why not look into it?

After logging on to Verizon, I saw the offer and it said “my current plan was no longer available.”

more data

Credit: Wiki Media

This got me wondering, what if I did select my current 3GB plan as my “new plan”? They were now offering that plan for $10 less than what we are currently paying. Since I don’t think we’d need 4GB, I “downgraded” and now am reaping a $10/month savings for my same plan of 3GB. Score! Perhaps data has gotten cheaper or competition has heated up among other providers. Whatever the reason, I didn’t care, and neither would most people if they can get more data at the same price, or shave a few bucks off a regular expense.

Is your cellular service offering more data?

We all know that subscribing to cell service often involves lengthy contracts, about 2 years. So, if your current carrier is not throwing promotions at you, and your contract is set to expire, see if you can negotiate a better deal for more data, a customer loyalty discount, or some other incentive such as a new phone. If not, drop them!

Leave me comment a tell me how you have negotiated a better deal with your cell service.