Never Pay Full Price for These Things

Faced with decreased earnings as a result of the recession, consumers are putting their frugal mindsets to greater use. We’re increasingly demanding discounts and coupons on more categories in an effort to cut back our spending.

Let’s use dining out as an example. As a child growing up in the 90’s, I don’t ever remember my parents clipping restaurant coupons. Maybe it was because we lived in a small town with only a few restaurants to choose from. Today, I couldn’t imagine not looking online for a coupon before going out to eat. I don’t find one every time, but when I do the average savings is about 20%.

WiseBread has a list of 25 things to never pay full price for. I want to focus on a few and share some strategies that have worked for me.

1. Magazines

If you’re looking for a good variety of current, free magazines, look no further than your local library. Most libraries offer dozens of the most popular titles. If the library isn’t your thing, check out DiscountMags.com. They offer yearly subscriptions of rotating titles as low as $4, but you have to search for a coupon code to get that price. Amazon also has a good selection at decent prices.

Each time a renewal notice comes for one of your subscriptions, it’s a good idea to think about whether you actually read the magazine anymore. Do they sit in a pile on the coffee table collecting dust? If so, it’s time to cancel your subscription.

9. Gift Cards

Unless you are getting cash back or rewards points on your credit card, you should never pay full price for a gift card. Think about it. You’re taking actual, real cash and turning it into credit that you can only use at one store. For that inconvenience, you should get a discount of at least a few percent. Buying gift cards at a discount is a great way to save money before you even walk into the store.

GiftCardGranny.com is the best site I’ve seen for buying gift cards. It compiles gift cards from many different sources, so you don’t have to visit several sites to find the best deal. They give you a list of available cards from each store and provide info including the discount you get, shipping cost (if any) and who the seller is. I recently saw a JC Penney card valued at $130 on sale for $107 with free shipping — a discount of 18%!

13. Car Rentals

A quick trip over to Expedia to search for rental cars tells us that an economy car can cost as much as $50 a day, with the lowest price at $30. That’s expensive. So how do you find the best deal on a rental? There are two things you can do.

The first is to use Priceline. Using blind booking, you must agree to book a non-refundable rental for a set date. If you know your trip will definitely happen and you don’t care which company you rent from, this is the best way to go. You can save up to 40% using this method.

The second is to book at the cheapest published rate you can find online. Because car rentals are fully refundable pretty much up until the day of your trip, you can re-book at any time if a lower rate comes along. But who wants to constantly monitor for better rates? A new site called AutoSlash has developed a solution. You can either search for rentals on their site or enter a rental you’ve already booked. Then, they continually monitor for coupon codes or lower rates that pop up and automatically re-book you at the lower rate. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Conclusion

Nobody should pay full price for everything they buy anymore. New websites become available every day to help us get a better deal on the things we buy. Use these resources and your own creativity to come up with ways to save on just about anything.

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Finding Legitimate Work-At-Home Opportunities

Work-at-home opportunities have grown substantially since the Great Recession began as people are looking to get back on their feet financially. These side gigs offer the flexibility of choosing your own hours and can be a great way to earn a little extra cash in your free time. What they will not do, however, is make you rich quickly.

Scamsters have also taken advantage of the increased popularity of work-at-home offers. So you have to be careful to avoid people trying to take your money. Among the most common scams:

  • People asking for sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth or checking account number
  • Instructions to deposit a check then wire a portion of it back to someone
  • Claims that someone has access to hidden jobs or government grants that nobody else knows about
  • Anyone requiring large amounts of money up front
  • Promises of earning hundreds or thousands of dollars a month in your spare time

Never, ever give out personal information or bank account numbers to anybody without a good reason.  Because most work-at-home offers are scams, you have to be vigilant in weeding out the bad ones.

So what should you do if you’re searching for legitimate opportunities to earn some extra dough? That depends on your interests and abilities. There are several types of work-at-home outfits on the internet, but I’ll talk about three of the most common ones.

Virtual call centers and help desks

Companies often outsource their customer support, so you might be able to find an opportunity helping customers solve issues on the phone or over the internet. Arise.com and LiveOps.com are two of the bigger sites for these types of opportunities.

Legal assistance to attorneys

Attorneys sometimes need help preparing for a trial. For example, you could be part of a mock jury or focus group helping to determine case value, find which facts to emphasize, and analyze public opinion of a particular topic. If you’re interested in providing this type of service, check out OnlineVerdict.com or eJury.com.

Freelancing

Do you know a foreign language? Are you a math whiz? There are people willing to pay for private tutors for all sorts of subjects. Take a look at what skills you can offer the world, and visit Fiverr.com or Elance.com to find people looking for your expertise. Even if you don’t think you have any skills, you’d be surprised what people are willing to do for a few bucks.

On Fiverr.com, people post what they are willing to do for five dollars. One entry I just saw is from a guy who is willing to put on a hot dog costume and dance for two minutes to a song of your choice!

Work-at-home opportunities won’t make you rich, but they can be a good way to earn a few bucks in your spare time. A good way to get a feel for the reputation of a company is to search online for what other people say about it. If you see a lot of negative comments, you know to steer clear.

A final word of caution: Be skeptical if something seems too good to be true. You don’t want to get taken by the scamsters!

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