Money Saving Tips - Part Two
Saving money when you buy something doesn't just include looking for the best deals, or for the highest percentage off a price, or taking advantage of bonuses like no-tax sales or free shipping. Here are two more categories to consider that can drastically reduce your costs.
I. Use Memberships offered by many businesses.
Sometimes you come across extra offerings you just can't pass up. Most people know about big box and club stores, and how they save for you (and them) by buying and selling in high volume. But lots of other businesses (like motels and larger chain stores) offer special perks when you sign up for rewards or join their 'club', and most of the time it costs nothing to join! Then, once you're a "privileged customer" the discount specials and perks start rolling in. Here are a few my wife and I use regularly.
An office supply store chain offers rewards on ink, paper and copying, and also pays $3 for every used ink cartridge turned in. As a result, in the past five months we've received over $40 in gift certificates from that chain, plus two gift cards that save us $10 off when we spent $75 in any of their stores - a big savings if you needed something in that price range from that kind of store. The result: more ink and paper at huge discounts.
This past week we shopped at the same chain again and the clerk at the register asked if we needed any new batteries. "No," I said. "Are you sure? A pack of twenty is only $9.00, and after you buy them we'll send you a certificate worth $9.00" My shrewd wife said, "That mean's we'd get them for free?" The clerk's response: "That's the deal." So we walked out of the store with 20 AA batteries that have a shelf life of 2016 - and will get our money back in the mail!
Some other membership deals:
- Our free membership at a major motel chain gives us points for every stay. When we travel north again in two weeks, we'll use our points to get two free nights' lodging!
- Last November a major department store chain sold us a new electric range/oven that we urgently needed after our old one finally died. But we bought it at $500 off the ticketed price, plus 0% financing for six months, free delivery, installation and removal of our old unit.
- A different department store sold us new top-of-the-line cookware (required since our older pots and pans wouldn't work well our new range; (isn't planned obsolescence wonderful!) - but since we bought a complete cookware set and not just a pan or two, we got nine pieces plus a large free cook pot (a $100 value), all at a $150 discount with two months to pay at 0% interest.
II. Donations and Tax Deductions:
Another way to save substantial sums (and little amounts do add up!) is to donate used items to groups like Goodwill or The Salvation Army that resell them and employ persons who need work, all at the same time. Yet, many people fail to give things away, or don't often keep receipts that show donation dates and the fair value of donated items.
We've contributed bedding, artificial plants, dishes, kitchenware, furniture, tools and all sorts of odds and ends worth hundreds of dollars to us on each year's tax return.
In addition, a city library near us has an excellent second-hand bookstore that accepts and sells donated books. We buy books there (25-50 cents for paperbacks, $1-3 for hard covers), many of which are newly published and in good condition, read them and then donate them back to the same store. Result: we read free books by taking a tax donation - and, if we donate new books we purchased elsewhere we get a bit more as a deduction.
Also, take advantage of energy saving tax credits in 2010. We installed all new windows in our summer home this past winter and will get a $1,500 credit when we file our taxes next year.
So, earn more or spend less, absolutely, and spend less by spending even less. You can't go wrong - especially if you needed those items in the first place.
But, by linking up with businesses that offer free perks, by donating used items and keeping accurate records, and by using every legal tax credit / deduction available to you, you can make your hard-earned dollars go even further. You may even get a refund on taxes paid - which, after all, was your money in the first place!