The final 2016 holiday and shopping season is upon us and it is definitely a great time to reflect on strategies you might have used for saving money on a wide variety of items this past year. I am going to summarize my best strategies and make some predictions as to where I feel we are headed in 2017.
Saving money in 2017: more of the same opportunities as 2016, or even better ones let’s hope
First, the tried and true method of coupon searching, especially for online shopping, proved over and over to be effective and increasingly painless. I have two apps installed on my Chrome browser that automatically search coupons for me whenever I shop online – Coupons at Checkout and Honey. Their websites have great tutorials on how these tools work, so worth a minute of your time. Both of the apps work pretty well, but definitely check both because sometimes they find different coupons. Prediction wise, jury is out on these being viable avenues in the future. Coupons are not always intended for all customers so retailers may deploy more advanced technology that blocks their average customer from being able to use codes that are widely promoted on the Internet. But, it never hurts to try, of course.
Second, a relatively new concept for saving money directly from your credit / debit card – card linked offers – from the likes of American Express, Coupons.com, and Restaurants Plus (Living Social). If you have an American Express card, it’s definitely worth scrolling down to their Benefits page to see what offers may be available to you. For a refresher, see my post here and a list of sources for these types of offers here. I see more opportunities for these types of savings vehicles only increasing in the new year. They provide retailers, banks, and credit card companies a rich pool of data in which to provide targeted advertising and other offers.
Third, negotiating better deals on utilizes and services such as cable television, Internet, and wireless. Providers realize that they essentially have a lock on your loyalty given the cost of getting out of contracts and the pain of undoing your service providers. But, you don’t have to accept their rate increases. Saving money can be as easy as calling them every six months or so and asking what types of offers they can provide you. Especially with cable, I see more opportunities to “unbundle” or receive “a la carte” service in the future. An old-school cable package is going to be a novelty one day, so it’s an easy item to negotiate price wise. I have used this strategy to lower my cable bill, credit card annual fee, and wireless plan.
Fourth, integration of Uber and Lyft promotions with third parties. Uber and Lyft have been pretty awesome this past year with their promotions. I recently took advantage of the 50% off 5 rides promo from Uber from using Android Pay. And, will be taking advantage of another promo of theirs with a free ride home from the airport (up to $65) via American Express. Lyft has been throwing me 25% off ride coupons almost weekly for a while now. Haven’t seen or heard of any third-party deals yet with Lyft, but I bet they are coming. The ride sharing wars are definitely here and we can all benefit.
Fifth, leveraging partially used, or discounted, gift cards. These continue to be a great source of instant money saving opportunities. See my post here about how you can use these for all your shopping needs. I am optimistic that these will still be a viable option but the denominations of which they come in can be a prickly problem. Too many cards are available at a steep discount but they are either way too large ($100s) or too small (>$25) and can be more hassle than they are worth if you are left with an unused balance.
These are a few of the many strategies I hope to continue to employ in the coming year to save money. What tricks will you use to help you save money this next year? Let me know.