You get an email in your inbox. Oh! It’s from BestPlaceEver for a whopping 30% off everything in the store until 9pm tonight! But it’s already 8pm, oh no—you’ve REALLY been wanting that gold-plated unicorn horn sculpture made by ancient Unicornians for weeks, but it’s been slightly out of your price range. It’s been a little cheaper on Amazon.com than on BestPlaceEver.com, but definitely not 30% off! Time to buy it, right?
Nope! Companies are great at trying to make you buy things now now now! That’s American capitalism—if we didn’t buy things our whole economy would collapse! But that doesn’t mean YOU need to be throwing your money at a business every time you get an email. Take a moment to do the math before tossing items in your digital shopping cart.
Let’s say that Amazon.com has your gold-plated unicorn horn sculpture for $29.98 with free shipping. BestPlaceEver has the gold-plated unicorn horn sculpture for $25.99 after the 30% off is applied. Yay! But wait—shipping from BestPlaceEver is $5, and tax adds on another $2, bringing the real price up to $32.99. It’s actually still cheaper to get it from Amazon after all.
It may sound like a pain having to cross-check deals on different websites when you see a sale you really want to jump on. However, if you’d like to save every penny you can, it is a necessity. I can’t believe how many times I have added sale items to an online shopping cart, only to discover that after shipping and taxes, it’d just be cheaper to buy it in person—or at regular price at a different site with free shipping. Online shopping certainly has its place, and I have bought many things I wouldn’t be able to buy otherwise (and I have, of course, saved my own skin by emailing an e-gift card to birthday recipients at the very last minute!). Just make sure to consider if the “sale” is truly a sale or not.
Disclaimer: If you are a person who struggles with credit card debt this post is not for you. My intention is to show the money saving possibilities when you can outsmart the credit card company promos that we are bombarded with every time we shop.
We have all seen them or heard the cashier say, “Would you like to sign up and save X% on your purchase today.” Most are required by their managers to say this. I would say almost 100% of the time, I say no and rightfully so.
Before I tell you how to outsmart these companies, let’s go over how they make their money.
Their biggest money maker is your interest! Credit card companies WANT you to not pay your full bill every month. If you do, they make no money. If you are someone who pays it off often, I bet you get credit increases often. They hope that one day you’ll use it for a big purchase that wouldn’t be able to be paid off.
They also make money from your late fees, annual fees, over the limit etc.
So the first step to outsmarting the credit card company is very simple and will save you tons of money.
Always pay off your bill. Another little disclaimer here, I know that due to some people’s circumstances this can’t always be done, but the more you can try the better.
Outsmarting those promo deals. This is what I really want to talk about. I can honestly say that out of all my large purchases in the pass few years i.e. TV, washer and dryer, refrigerator, bed etc, I’ve gotten anywhere from 20-30% off just by opening an account with these places, putting in on the new credit card then marching my way back to customer service and paying it off.
This tactic only works though if you’ve been shopping around, price compared, found your best deal and then saved up for it. A lot of these places will have no interest for 6 months to a year. I don’t think it’s bad to make payments if you are disciplined to do so and avoid those finance charges they will tack on if it’s not paid off during that time.
There are some department stores like Kohls that will send discounts for those with their credit card. The catch is you have to use the card for that purchase. However, right after you get your killer 30% off, just march your way back to customer service and pay it off. You can even pay at some of the registers!
Another great deal that you may have seen around is the Target Debit Card. Can I just say that I LOVE this card? It’s not a credit card, but a debit card that draws straight from your checking account. Every time you use the card, you get 5% off your purchases. Couple that with the awesome match ups we give you here and you’ve got a great deal. I just got the card a few weeks ago and the only downside I’ve seen is it takes 3-4 days for the money to come out of your account.
Also, these promo deals aren’t worth it if you are just making small purchases. I wouldn’t even think about getting one of them unless I am going to save a couple $100 dollars.
In the end, credit cards can be dangerous in the wrong hands. However, when used by the responsible Thrifty Diva, they can save you a lot of money!
Have you outsmarted the credit card companies? Which deals have you taken advantage of? Tell us in the comments!