This article was updated on September 28, 2018.
We’ve already covered budgeting tips for travel and the holidays, but one of the best ways to save money is to stop paying so much for things you already buy. You may have to dig a little to find these deals, but trust us, it’s worth it. You’ll have enough money saved up for your dream vacation in no time.
1. Take Advantage of Off-Season Deals
Get savvy and plan ahead. If you don’t mind buying winter clothes while it’s still summer, you can receive huge discounts from retailers who want to get rid of leftover stock to make room for more seasonally appropriate items. This works for travel too. Visit destinations during their least popular tourist seasons (eg. London in November). The weather won’t be optimal, but that won’t stop you from having a memorable (and affordable) time.
2. Look Up Online Deals
Discounts and coupons are everywhere on the Internet. It’s just a matter of finding the ones for stores you already frequent. Before you buy anything online, check RetailMeNot to find various offers and deals for thousands of retailers or install the Coupons at Checkout add-on to receive automatic coupon codes. If you’re already browsing, leave your items in your online shopping cart for a few days. Some stores push you to make the purchase by emailing you a discount offer.
3. Sign Up for Customer Rewards Programs
Lots of places like movie theaters, coffee shops, and retail stores offer customer loyalty programs where you register for a card and rack up points. These go towards a discount on your next purchase or a free item. Just keep an eye on the restrictions—some places charge fees for VIP treatment. Focus on the places you frequent most, and where you’ll see the best results over time.
4. Use Your Student Discount
As a student, you can get discounts on tons of things. Depending on your university, you can save on computers and tablets, software, and more. Be sure to ask about student discounts everywhere you go—you’ll be surprised at how many locations offer them but don’t advertise these deals outright. For international exchange students, you can also sign up for an ESNcard to receive exclusive discounts on hostels, trips and other cool stuff.
5. Consider Rewards vs. Cash Back
Look at your credit card and the benefits you’re getting—is it the best one? Do you prefer merchandise/travel rewards or cash back? Avoid cards with high annual fees or high interest rates by checking CardRatings. Switch to a new card if your current one isn’t doing you any favours.
6. Switch Phone Plans
Consider ditching your current plan for a pay-as-you-go option. Sure, you won’t get the newest or shiniest smartphone with this option, but you’ll only have to pay for the minutes and texts you use, rather than a set amount each month.
7. Reduce Your Bills
If you’re unhappy with the rate you’re paying for your cable or Internet bill, it never hurts to tell your provider or look for other companies that offer better rates. They might offer to reduce your rates in order to keep you. Or stream your shows on Netflix to cut your cable costs altogether.
8. Find Cheaper Travel Options
Instead of taking the train or plane on your next trip, save some cash and take the bus. You can find some crazy travel deals if you book early enough on Busbud!
Remember—you never get what you don’t ask for, so stop paying full price for things you don’t need to. All of this scrimping and saving pays off! Then your only concern will be figuring out where to go. (We have a few travel guides to get you started!)