The Official Guide to Saving Money in 2011

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5 Ways to Save Money in 2011

My friends and family like to tease me about my frugality. “Do you go anywhere without a Groupon?” is a question I hear so frequently, I’ve actually started to question my money-saving lifestyle. But once I really thought about it, I realized people who don’t comparison shop, use coupons and promo codes, or get rewarded for their purchases, and instead, buy full price at the store, are the ones who are really missing out. And missing out big; maybe hundreds, even thousands, of dollars!

Sure, I may subscribe to every group buying site in my area. And yes, I may spend a few extra minutes trying to find the best price. But in the end, I am able to do a lot more, buy a lot more and save a lot more than I could if I simply showed up at the store empty handed when I was ready to buy something. Plus, saving money is fun!  So, with that in mind, here are the top five ways I plan to save money in the new year:

1. Plan ahead.

Planning ahead takes only a few minutes, but it can result in major savings. And it only takes a few simple steps. First, whenever you plan to spend money, always go armed with a list. Stick to it and don’t buy anything that’s not on your list. This applies whether you’re at the mall, the grocery store, or even at a restaurant (was that third glass of wine really on the list?).  Secondly, if you know at least a week in advance that you plan to eat at a certain restaurant or purchase a product from a specific store, buy a discounted gift card and watch the savings pile up before you even walk out the door. Cardpool.com is my favorite discount gift card shop, and Restaurant.com is also a great option for food.

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Planning ahead can also mean making reservations (Opentable.com rewards you for every 2,000 points you earn by making reservations through their site), checking venues for discount days and times, and even doing a quick Google search to see what retailer has the best price.

2. Use technology.

Use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to be the first to know about the latest contests and giveaways, upcoming sales, freebies and more. Find promotion codes by checking sites like Retailmenot.com, Couponcabin.com and Promocode-2010.com. And compare prices using sites like Shopstyle.com, MyShoes.com and TheFind.com. Sites like Valpak.com, Coupons.com and Shortcuts.com offer printable coupons. And iPhone apps like Grocery iQ, Pushpins and Grocery Gadgets will allow you to use coupons or add them to your loyalty card without having to print or clip anything.

Another great way to use technology to help you save big is by signing up for sites like BillShrink.com and Offermatic.com.  At BillShrink, you can find out if you can save on your wireless phone, cable TV, credit cards, savings and CDs, and at the gas station. The site will compare your current plans with other available plans and let you know if your needs can be met for less elsewhere. And at Offermatic, you can earn automatic rebates, reward points and exclusive coupons just by registering your credit or debit card. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

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3. Be loyal.

Whether loyalty means signing up for your favorite store or venue’s newsletter, catalog, rewards program or VIP membership, I promise you, it will help you save money. Most businesses offer some type of loyalty program, so be sure to check with the places you frequent most and ask them if they have a program that will reward your for your patronage. 

4. Get rewarded.

Speaking of getting rewarded… if you’re buying anything today (whether it’s dinner, a new pair of heels, gas or even a new big screen TV), you should be getting rewarded in some way. Check out places like eBates.com and FatWallet.com to earn cash back on online purchases and don’t forget to check your airline of choice for Sky Mile rewards. iDine.com rewards you for eating out. And dozens of credit cards reward you in various ways just for swiping. Of course, make sure you pay your bills in full each month… but that’s for another article. Point is, you should be earning cash back, sky miles, free coupons, and more for literally EVERY purchase you make from here on out. It’s just too easy not to!

5. Subscribe.

I’ve already admitted that I am subscribed to just about every group buying site out there. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I get to try new, fun places that I couldn’t normally afford and do it more often than my budget would typically allow. To avoid your inbox being loaded up every morning with dozens of group buying deals, just subscribe to Yipit.com or TheDealMap.com to get all of your local deals in one place. 

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While you’ll definitely want to sign up for your favorite retailers’ eNewsletters, I also strongly recommend subscribing to websites like Shoppingnotes.com, Priceneedle.com (for Amazon products only) and Shopittome.com. These tools will send you price alerts the second an item on your wishlist (you have one of those now… remember step one?) goes on sale, so you’ll be sure to snag the best price every time!

Happy Savings!

For more money-saving tips and tools, including a Credit Personal Trainer to help you whip your credit into shape so you can qualify for the best deals on life’s biggest purchases, visit Quizzle.com.

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