How to Save $339 in 33 Days
Whether you're booking a flight or have to buy another bridesmaid dress, these simple tricks put money back in your wallet.
Check Off the "Add Nearby Airports" Box: $41
The sweet spot for buying plane tickets seems to change all the time. Kayak.com now says its customers are finding the lowest domestic fares 21 days before travel, and the lowest international fares 34 days before. Whenever you buy, though, you should use the site's Add Nearby Airports tool; it's a box you check off right under the From and To city fields—but a Kayak rep told us only one in five users actually does this. We recently searched the site for a round-trip ticket from JFK to Fort Lauderdale (it's one of the most traveled routes in the United States) and came up with a $241 fare. Clicking on Add Nearby Airports shaved off $41 and brought us to nearby West Palm Beach. Depending on your final destination (e.g., if you're headed to Boca Raton, which is about halfway between the two Florida airports), it may not matter which one you fly into.
Get the Kid-Size Popcorn, Even If You're Seeing a Grown-Up Movie: $6
You're not the only one who's annoyed with the cost of movie theater snacks: Earlier this year, a Michigan man filed a class-action suit against his local AMC theater because he was so fed up with paying $8 for Goobers and a Coke. Although coupons are hard to come by (concessions are where theaters make most of their money), and sneaking in your own food isn't technically allowed, you can save some cash by ordering off the kids' menu. A small popcorn and small soda at a chain theater we called in Indianapolis cost $12, while a kid-size popcorn and soda there are only $6—and you get a package of gummy candy too.
Buy Groceries with a Card: $3.20 Each Time You Get Gas
Many supermarkets have loyalty cards that reward shoppers with discounts on future purchases. Price Chopper, Kroger, Safeway, Winn-Dixie and other chains, though, have started giving their regular customers discounted gas at participating stations. The discount varies by program, but customers typically receive a 20-cent-per-gallon reduction for spending $200 on groceries. With the national average cost of a gallon of gas currently at $3.23, a 16-gallon tank of gas costs $51.68. Knocking 20 cents off each gallon drops the cost to $48.48.
Be Okay with a Full Inbox: $40
We know—the last thing you need is more email. But many online retailers offer immediate discounts of anywhere from 10 to 40 percent if you sign up for their free newsletters (plus you'll get a steady stream of coupons throughout the year). The least annoying way to do this is to set up an account just for this purpose (something like JaneLovesDiscounts@gmail.com works). Bed Bath & Beyond, for example, gives you 20 percent off one item, so a $200 bedding set would only cost $160. H&M, American Apparel, Burlington Coat Factory, Crocs and many other retailers have similar deals.
Make Dinner Reservations Online: $20
You may think of OpenTable.com, the site where you can make free restaurant reservations, as a helpful tool for planning a date night, but your local bar and grill might be on the site too. While you may not usually make a reservation before heading there for burgers on a Friday night, there are perks to doing so through OpenTable: Before you know it, you'll have racked up enough points to win yourself a $20 gift card to use at any restaurant listed on the site.
Give a Gift They'll Never Know Was on Sale: $6
Gift cards can be a busy (or forgetful) person's ace in the hole. But the recipient doesn't have to know you only paid $44 for that $50 Applebee's gift certificate. Sites like GiftCardRescue.com offer anywhere from 3 to 30 percent off the face value of cards from dozens of restaurants and stores. It's also a good way to snag a deal for yourself, e.g., stocking up on $86 worth of shoes from Payless for $68.
Know That Something Borrowed Can Apply to Bridesmaids Too: $100
Most bridesmaid dresses cost between $150 and $200. Add $75 for shoes and another $60 for jewelry, CNN reports, plus $100 for manicures, hair and makeup (not to mention wedding gifts, travel expenses, etc.), and you're looking at about $1,700 to be in your best friend's wedding. Is it surprising, then, that companies have popped up offering rental dresses for the bride's BFFs? Little Borrowed Dress is one; it stocks a range of rental silk dresses for $50 to $75. Your gown arrives two weeks before the wedding day, and you just pop it in the mail after the party. You'll free up closet space and save yourself a very pricey conversation about how you'll turn your purchase into a cocktail dress.
Abandon Your Shopping Cart: $24
Anyone who has quibbled over prices with a vendor knows you get the best offer when you pretend you're not interested after all. The technique of walking away can work online too: Some sites contact would-be customers after they put items in their shopping carts but don't follow through with a purchase, offering discounts and other incentives via email. This recent Time article lists stores that have done this; just remember you have to get far enough into the checkout process to log in or enter your email address for it to work. Recent example: We put a $120 North Face jacket from O2GearShop.com in our cart, left and got an email with the subject line "Forget something?" a few days later offering us 20 percent ($24) off.
Be the Summer Camp Early Bird: $99
Many summer camps for kids, both general and special-interest ones, offer significant discounts if you sign up early. Trackers Summer Camps in Portland, Oregon, is one; it knocks off 10 percent if you sign up by February 22. The Easton School of Rock in Easton, Pennsylvania, is another, lowering the cost of its program from $495 to $396 if you register before the end of March. If only we could save money by meeting every other deadline in our lives early.
Next: The 7 money mantras experts live by
Next: The 7 money mantras experts live by