Solo parents know the price of a dollar. We work, we earn, we spend, and more than likely, we are very careful with our cash. We might be getting help paying our kids’ bills from our former spouses, or we may not be. We are more likely to be struggling to make ends meet than any other demographic. That’s why we at Solo Parent Magazine want to hook a sister or brother up. Here are some great ways to score some savings. Read on.
- Study Your Way to Success: Being a student is a great way to get a discount. These discounts range from popular clothing stores to the Apple store. Do your research on these student discounts to decide if you need to be a college student or a student that has yet to finish high school. Sign your kids up if need be. If you aren’t in college anymore, you may be able to use your old college email address. Addresses that end in “.edu” are usually used to verify your college student status. That doesn’t tell the retailer whether you are active or not. They just assume you are because of the address.
- Coupon Apps: There are plenty of coupon apps that combine coupons from all brands or focus on just one stores. Save with your phone while you shop! Some apps even let you compare prices when you scan the UPC code on the back of the item so that you not only learn that you can get the item cheaper, but know exactly where to go to get it.
- Earn Points: Many stores use rewards programs so you can earn points while you shop. Whenever a cashier offers you a reward card to fill out, do it and remember to use the card when you shop. Save the points for a day when you really need some sort of financial boost.
- Professional Benefits: Depending on your profession, you may get in-store discounts. For example, Barnes and Noble offers discounts to teachers on top of coupons found on their site. If a store doesn’t inform you of a professional benefit or discount, don’t be afraid to ask about it.
- Credit, Not Debit: Does your debit card offer cash back when you use it as a credit card? If so, take advantage of this option and always pay with credit. Some banks and other financial institutions also offer monthly discounts through specific stores. Paypal offers both of these features.
- Punch Cards: Instead of personalized reward systems, some stores offer punch cards. They “punch” your card every time you shop or spend a certain amount of money. When you have enough punches you get a hefty discount or a free item. This method is most commonly used at pizza places or frozen yogurt shops, but is also used at stores like Karma.
- Memberships: Sometimes all you need to do is become a member to earn free items. Check the details before you join and be careful to opt out of the spam. In some cases, you can even get a free mini-vacation. For instance, BoydGaming offers free hotel stays on a regular basis to active members. You don’t even have to enter the casino to participate, but if they give you free slot dollars, why not use them? Just be sure to pack your own food when you stay as these hotels. They do have dining options, but they can be quite expensive.
- Buy Gift Cards Second Hand: If you have ever gotten a gift card for a store you don’t shop at, you understand the pain that some other people experience. Those people sell their gift cards, often at a reduced rate. That translates into big savings for you. Visit sites like GiftCardGranny to see how much you can save on a gift card today. Since some stores also give discounts when you register or use a gift card, it’s like getting two discounts in one.
- Cancel Services: When you’re trying to trim some fat off the budget, you might be tempted to cancel some services that are “extras” in your house. When you do, you might get a surprise. Many companies offer deep discounts or even a month or two of free services to keep you as a customer. It serves them well in the long term because they don’t lose a customer, but it also gives you a chance to get things caught up in the meantime.
- Ask: Never underestimate your own power of negotiation. There is nothing wrong with asking for a discount on products or services. The worst they can do is not give you what you ask for. If negotiating makes you nervous, start out by trying it at yard sales and flea markets. These are the easiest places to negotiate a lower price. Even though you may not be dealing with an actual business, the practice gives you the experience you need to increase your confidence.
More sneaky (yet practical!) discount tips:
- It isn’t difficult to get a great deal on a vacation package, but you may have to spend some time listening to a pitch about a timeshare option.
- You can also save money by changing a few things in your lifestyle. If you eat out a lot, narrow it down to eating out once a week. If you eat out a lot because you never seem to have time to cook, start making a week’s worth of meals on your day off, then reheat them through the week.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate duties! Kids like to feel responsible and necessary, so letting them take on some of the household chores benefits them just as much as it benefits you and the house.
- Use Netflix instead of cable. Cheaper!
- Grow a garden instead of shopping for vegetables.
- Buy items at the end of the season or on clearance. Shops like T.J. Maxx or Marshalls really do have name brands for cheaper. And not just for clothes– bedding, cosmetics, kitchen goods and furniture.
As prices on just about everything continue to rise, it gets harder and harder to meet the needs of a single parent household. However, if you know how to get great discounts, it is possible to save money and even do things like take vacations! Think of it! And do it.