Welcome to all of you who are new to this site, via seeing me on Studio 5 this morning!
I'm happy to have you here 🙂 When you get a second, feel free to take a look around. The tabs at the top of my site are a great place to start, as well as my “Top post of 2011
” page. Be sure to sign up for our first annual Frugality Boot Camp
, enter up for our giveaway
where you can win a FREE ticket to that boot camp, email me with questions, and have a great day!
Today I did a segment on Studio 5
about the 10 most overlooked and unused discounts. In today's economy we are all trying to save a buck, and learn how to do more and spend less.
As a frugality expert I've noticed one thing over and over and over and over…
We often times focus on the big, hard, daunting tasks and tend to overlook the most simple and basic “baby steps” that will help us save money.
Usually it's because we feel like we'd only be saving a few dollars here and there, which is hardly enough to bother.
Those few dollars here and there quickly add up to hundreds, then thousands! I promise you, it's the small and simple changes in your life that will make the most lasting effects! Here are some easy ways to help your family save hundreds. Enjoy!
to watch the video online)
Top 10 Most Overlooked and Unused Discounts
1. Status discounts
To me, a “status discount” is a discount based on age or status. This can be:
- Senior discount
- Military discount
- Child discount
- Student discount
Status discounts are everywhere! But they are often times unused.
- It might be that people are embarrassed. It highlights their age, draws attention to themselves, makes them feel “cheap”.
- Or, they simply don't know that a discount is an option for them!
Let me tell you, status discounts should NOT be ignored. They are some of the easiest and most valuable discounts out there!
- You don't get spam
- You don't really have to do anything
- You don't have to sign up for anything typically.
Here's how to take advantage of them:
ASK. That's it. You're done.
Not too bad, eh?
A friend of mine works at Banana Republic.
Did you know that you get 15% off your bill, simply for mentioning that you are a student??
I know, right?
There are THOUSANDS of discounts available to you. Here are some resources for you to see how much money you can save:
Did you know students get discounts at Target, Dominoes Pizza, J-Crew, McDonalds, Sams Club, Cinemark Theaters, and more?? (see HERE
Did you know that for being in the military you can get discounts on insurance, rugs, food, cars, and more?? (there are thousands; far too many for me to list, so check them out HERE
, and HERE
Did you know that if you are 60+ you can get a discount at Wendy's, Einstein Bagels, Banana Republic, CJ Banks, and more?? (check them out HERE
, and HERE
Did you know your kids can eat free at Jason's Deli, Ihop, Pizza Hut, Chick Fil-A, and more?? (see HERE
, and HERE
- Look around. When you go into a restaurant or store, look for signs.
- Don't see a sign? ASK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. Contests and giveaways
We see contests everywhere. I was in Home Goods the other day and passed by this sign about 5 times before actually reading it:
I read it, and moved on. Sure, contests are everywhere…but we never really enter them.
- We don't want our email, address, or phone number out there; don't want to get spammed.
- Takes too much time.
- Prize isn't life-changing enough.
- Why bother, the odds are against us and we probably won't win anyway.
My husband is the best example of how WRONG those theories are. If you have been reading my blog for more than about 5 seconds, you've probably noticed that
He is always winning stuff! When we were first married I thought it was luck. But then I realized
it's simply a numbers game.
He's fearless! He will throw his business card into any bucket, and will sign up for any giveaway. Big, small, exciting, boring, doesn't matter. He enters…and guess what?
He's won tickets to events,
Restaurant gift cards,
Cook books and other books,
He won a real-deal HUGE longboard surf board,
An iPod shuffle,
an iPod touch
and his favorite…
a $1000 guitar.
He was a trade show with 43,000 people, and he won!
He had to wear the shirt, hold the guitar, take a picture, and tweet it.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, it wasn't easy enough for most people, and very few people entered. He took the 3 minutes to do it, and won.
I really wanted an iPad for Christmas, but didn't get enough money to cover it. My birthday is a few months later in March, so my husband worked his tail off. He searched high and low and entered every contest possible that was giving away an iPad.
Here's how to take advantage of contests:
- Be like Nike…JUST DO IT! You have nothing to lose. Seriously.
- Keep my favorite quote in mind, by Wayne Gretzsky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” Don't determine your own fate. Trust me, you'll do yourself a disservice if you do.
- Don't let spam stop you.
- Sure, maybe we get 1 phone call from the insurance guy giving away the stay in Vegas (tell him you're not interested).
- Sure, maybe we get emailed a few times from so and so (unsubscribe or block them).
- Sure, maybe we get junk in the mail once or twice a year.
But guess what? We hardly notice it as we play our $1000 guitar, reading sheet music on my iPad2.
- Stop thinking that the odds are against you.
As a blogger I could get 350,000 hits in a month. However, if I post a giveaway, I might only get 200 or so entries, and people can enter sometimes 4 or 5 times! That means that less than 1/10th of 1% of my followers are entering giveaways. Shocking? Yup.
And I know for a fact I'm not alone on this.
TRUST ME…the odds are nearly always better than you think.
(Maybe unless it's the super jackpot lottery or vegas tables.)
So stop thinking “it will never happen to me” “I'll never win anyway”…
Because you will win eventually if you keep trying.
May the odds forever be in your favor 😉
That being said….ENTER TO WIN MY CURRENT GIVEAWAY!!
I'm giving away a FREE ticket to my Frugality Boot Camp retreat
in June. It's a $225 value, so you'd better not pass this one up, people! Click HERE
3. Texting deals
You see these deals more and more every day. EVERYONE is texting now! (Yes, even my Grandpa…) so these are hot, hot, hot.
But, once again, they often go ignored.
- We don't want our cell number out into who-know-whose hands.
- We don't want to get spammed.
I totally hear you. But even still, we shouldn't overlook these
- It's one of the easiest ways to get a discount because it requires little to no effort.
- The coupons are typically really good.
- The are instant. You get them right away, and can usually use them on the spot.
Just yesterday I grabbed a $5 pizza. While in line I saw this sign:
Naturally, I pulled out my phone, sent the text, and BAM! Free crazy bread.
Could it GET any easier?
Here's how to take advantage of texting deals:
- Don't be afraid! No one is going to listen in on your phone calls or hunt you down and kill you from sending a text. If they do, I'm sure it's for other reasons other than this, so don't be shady and you don't have to worry.
- The “spamming” is hardly anything, so don't let that stop you. They would rather have you on their list than have you opt-out from texting you too much. I have found most companies to be really limited and respectful on the texting.
I, personally, have been doing texting deals for years. I maybe get texted by a company 1 or 2x per month – MAX. But really, I'm happy to see the texts when they come because the deals are really good!
We always keep an eye out for these on vacation (like our Vegas weekend
a while back)
We keep an eye out for them when eating out,
and of course, when shopping too.
And hey, if you are sick of the texts, simply reply STOP and legally they have to immediately remove you from their list. Can't beat that.
4. Email lists
Pretty much every company on the planet has an email list you can sign up for. They offer great discounts and freebies on your birthday and anniversary. Yet, people don't take advantage of them.
- Once again, word of the day, SPAM. We don't want junk mail in our inbox.
- We don't want more clutter and more emails to sort through.
- We feel like we don't frequent the place enough to make it worth it.
If any of you have seen my massive list of birthday freebies
, you know that I am on every email list imaginable, thus, I LOVE my birthday month. I literally get to eat for cheap or free for an entire
Not so much.
(My cute boys, enjoying my free bday breakfast at iHop. Aren't they to die for? – the boys, not the pancakes…)
Here's how to take advantage of email lists:
- Create an alternative email account. Email is free, I prefer Gmail (they do rule the world, after all). Call it “[email protected]” or whatever you want to call it. Use that email for contests, email lists, and anything else you don't want to come to your inbox.
- Or, create a filter in your existing account. This means you select emails from certain people or companies that skip your inbox and get filed into a separate folder. I have Gmail, and they make it really handy to do this.
1. Select the messages you want to keep out of your inbox.
2. Under “more” you click “filter messages like these”
3. don't do anything here, just click “Create filter with this search”.
4. click “skip the inbox”
5. click “apply the label…” then select the label you want. The “label” is the name of the new folder you want. Click “new label” if you need a new folder.
6. click “also apply to __ matching conversations”. This step is important because it will move all the existing emails that are already in your inbox from this sender to the folder, so you don't have to do it manually.
See? Easy peasy. I do this with all my daily deals, as well as emails from all restaurants and retailers.
I recommend NOT ever deleting these emails, just filter them out. Then, when you want to go shopping or go out to eat, just click on the folder, search “j-crew” or “mexican food” or whatever it is you need, and any emails that match will pull up. No need to hunt and peck to see if you have a coupon for this or that. Then, print out your coupon, and go shopping/eating!
See? No reason not to take advantage of these.
5. Junk Mail
Get mail from the mail box. Bring it inside. Sort bills and letters in one pile. Put junk mail in the other. Throw away junk mail.
Have you ever really stopped to look at all the “money” you are throwing away with that junk mail?
We don't bother to look at the junk mail, and rarely bother to actually use the coupons found therein.
- We don't want it to clutter our kitchen.
- We don't have any immediate use for it.
- We don't want to hold onto it for however long it takes for us to need it.
- The deal isn't good enough to bother.
Au contraire, lovely people!
Let me tell you something…companies pay a lot for mailers, so the coupons are great and ARE worth keeping around! You really can get awesome deals.
Here's how to take advantage of junk mail:
- Keep all the coupons you get, even if you think you won't use them.
- Keep them in a binder. I put mine in those clear page protectors and try to sort them by expiration date when I have time…but I usually just stuff them in there.
- Leave it in your car.
- Flip through the notebook before doing, buying, or paying for ANYTHING.
- Grab the notebook and clean it out once in a while at a red light, waiting at the dr's office, or if you're co-pilot on a drive.
It's not pretty, but it's pretty functional! Click HERE for a video of how I organize my notebook.
fun night we had? Recently we went to an event and I was starving after, didn't check my email before leaving. While in the car I grabbed the notebook, found some junk mail, flipped it open,
…and found a coupon for the exact restaurant we were looking for!
We got an entree for $0.99, by doing little to nothing.
My philosophy is…if you have them, you'll use them. If you toss them, you suck.
(ok, kidding, kidding.
6. Back of tickets
Next time you go to a movie or event, flip your ticket!
9 times out of 10 you will find great coupons on the back.
I remember growing up in Oregon, my folks would take us into Portland to go to a Blazer's game. If the Blazer's scored over 100 points in a game, your ticket was automatically worth a free chalupa at any local Taco Bell. That was GOLD to us kids! After the games we would scramble through the seats, grabbing dozens of discarded tickets. As a kid I remember thinking, “why aren't people using these? Don't they realize they are free food?”
We would feast on free Chalupas for weeks.
WHY don't we take advantage of ticket coupons?
- We don't want to hold onto the ticket
- We don't even realize it's there.
Lame-o excuses, people!
Here's how to take advantage of ticket coupons:
- Use them right away. Sometimes they expire within a few days, sometimes they have no expiration date at all. Either way, I recommend making a plan to use the coupon soon. Since tickets are small, it's most likely to get lost or tossed.
- Keep in your coupon notebook until you can use it.
See? Easy, and not cluttering up anything.
7. Back of receipts
This is pretty self-explanatory, very similar to the whole “flip your ticket” drill listed above. Many grocery stores print coupons on the backs of their receipts. I think I will name this as the #1 most overlooked discount. (poor little guy!)
- Who ever keeps or looks at receipts? I usually toss mine before I even leave the store.
- We assume the coupons are junk (or, at least I did anyway!)
I thought the exact same thing as you…until I actually started reading through them:
Free entrees? UPS discounts? 1/2 price at a restaurant just down the street from me?
Let me tell you, my eyes were opened.
Here's how to take advantage of receipt coupons:
- Read through them right away, before you even get to your car. That way you can mentally take note of what's on there.
- Keep them in your coupon notebook in your car until you can use it.
Customer satisfaction surveys have always been popular. So much so, I tend to overlook them and not even notice they are there any more!
The way they typically work is you go online, or call a 1-800 #. They ask your opinion on how your service was, and at the end of the survey will give you a discount code, will mail you a coupon, or enter you in a giveaway in exchange. Very common in restaurants and fast food, but you really see them everywhere.
People rarely complete the surveys.
- Don't want to take the time; figure it will take too long.
- The discount isn't good enough.
Not good enough? Isn't ANY discount better than no discount at all?
Here's how to take advantage of survey deals:
- Don't be afraid of giving a little time. In my experience, they are typically pretty short because they don't want you to get frustrated and hang up in the middle.
- Do it right away before you forget, or before it expires. I recommend doing it while walking to your car, on the drive home, or as your brushing your teeth that night. Just do it, get it done, and stick it in your coupon notebook!
Just remember that ANY discount is better than NO discount. Plus, Filling out the surveys not only saves you money, but will make that company all
9. Gas discounts
Gas prices are sky-high right now. And for most families their monthly gas bill is right up there with their mortgage and food bill. There are gas deals out there, but we often overlook them!
WHY do we pay full-price without questioning it?
- We may be somewhere that offers discounted gas, but our tank isn't on empty so we don't bother.
- Not worth the time to drive the extra distance to the discount gas tank.
- Not enough savings to bother.
Here's how to take advantage of gas discounts:
Once again, even if getting discounted gas only saves you a few dollars, those few dollars really add up over time! It's the little things; the small and steady details that will change your life.
Make that your mantra, baby!
Many grocery stores offer gas discounts for shopping there.
If you are shopping there anyway, take advantage! You are throwing away perfectly good money otherwise.
Warehouse stores like Costco and Sams also offer great discounts on gas.
- If you are somewhere that offers gas discounts, TOP OFF your tank. That way when you need gas you don't have to pay full-price.
10. Frequent/Preferred Buyer programs
Many if not most of our favorite places offer stamp cards or reward cards. The stamp cards are self-explanatory (buy 3 get 1 free). The rewards cards can be a number of things. Sometimes it's a free card you sign up for that you swipe at checkout. They issue you points based on what you spend, and send you coupons in the mail, or give you instant discounts at the register.
These are great discounts to take advantage of! Heck, if we are going to shop or eat there anyway, might as well get a free one once in a while.
WHY wouldn't someone take advantage of this free discount?
- Just one more thing to bulk up your wallet.
- Didn't know it was an option.
I absolutely love the soft-serve frozen yogurt at Maverick gas stations. It's sooo good, and really cheap! (It's $1.20 I think, and you fill up the bowl as full as you want. Mmmm…) I was buying it like crazy once summer. I finally realized that there was a punch card for the fro-yo. I was kicking myself! I could've had 2 or 3 free by the time I realized it.
Here's how to take advantage of frequent buyer discounts:
- Take the cards out of your wallet, and put them in a ziplock bag. Leave the bag in your car or in the bottom of your purse. That way it isn't bulking up your wallet, but you will always have them on-hand.
- It's ok if you forget your punch card. Ask for a new one, and simply combine all the stamps. If you need 10 stamps, they can be spread out over 10 different cards if needed.
- ASK! My favorite Chevron station has a punch card for drinks. I would've never known if I hadn't had asked.
I know this is the world's longest post.
(Hey, it was Studio 5's idea to do 10 things! Haha!)
Really, the take-home message here is…take advantage of discounts, deals, and opportunities that are out there. Every dollar and cent helps, and really, the benefits typically far outweigh the downsides.
Now, get out there and start saving!