Posts Tagged ‘savings’

The Special Deal Days of Holiday Shopping

 

The holiday shopping season continues to start earlier in the year, and that means a growing number of “special shopping days” with more deals and discounts from retailers and online outlets. This is a greater opportunity for you to save on those items on your gift list. But with more and more sale days, it may be quite a challenge to keep your spending in check during the holiday shopping season. The keys to staying in control are:

  • plan ahead
  • know the best days to shop
  • research and price compare ahead of time
  • use coupons and promo codes
  • stick to your budget

Here are the 12 traditional big sale and discount days for holiday shopping:

November 10 – Neighborhood Toy Store Day  This day of awareness was initiated to help shoppers find the best children’s toys on the market and encourage shopping in your  local community. Check out this website with resources: Neighborhood Toy Store Day. 

The Day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – In the United States, Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often even on Thanksgiving night, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. Sales are announced weeks ahead of time, and doorbuster deals are offered in limited quantities, which means advanced planning is essential to get the most from these bargains. More to find big savings in our post: Black Friday, Cyber Monday Money Saving Tips

The Saturday following Thanksgiving – Small Business Saturday  – Small Business Saturday reminds us to shop at locally-owned neighborhood stores. Boutique independent shops can offer some unique choices, quality goods and caring service.

The Monday following Thanksgiving – Cyber Monday – This marks the start of Cyber Week, where online shopping deals are continuous right up until the very last holiday minute, especially if you know where and how to search for bargains. By shopping online you save on gas and parking fees. Watch for sales, and use promo codes for discounts and free shipping offers. 7 Cyber Monday Shopping and Safety Tips.

End of November or in December – Chanukah – The first day of the eight-day holiday of Chanukah changes from year to year, but check your calendar and watch for new offers, specials and promo codes before that first day and and throughout the eight days of Chanukah. More tips to enjoy your holiday celebration in our post:  8 Ideas for a Happy Hanukkah Party on a Budget.

Second Monday in DecemberGreen Monday – eBay coined the term “Green Monday,” which does not refer to anything ecological, but rather, refers to the busiest online sales day of the year and the busiest shipping day in the country, with sales reported to bring in over one-billion greenbacks. More savings tips in this video:  Green Monday

Mid-December – Free Shipping Day – The U.S. and Canada’s Postal Service’s Annual Free Shipping Day,  is a one-day, online-shopping event when literally thousands of merchants offer free shipping promising delivery by Christmas Eve, and many merchants offer additional special promotions and discounts. More on participating retailers, special offers in this post on Free Shipping Day .

Third Thursday in DecemberNational Regifting Day – Regifting can be a budget-friendly option for gift-giving and is a more environmentally friendly option. Additionally, National Regifting Day conveniently coincides with the time that many businesses are hosting holiday office parties. One word of caution: be sure you don’t regift the gift back to the person who gave it to you originally. More handy tips in this video on The Art of Regifting.

Saturday before Christmas Day – Super Saturday – This is the second biggest retail shopping day of the year. The Saturday before Christmas is called “super” because it’s the last weekend chance for shoppers, which makes it super for retailers. Along with extra incentives and doorbuster deals being offered through the weekend, shoppers may also find a wide range of retail prices with tons of impulse items priced on the higher side while items that haven’t moved previously may be priced to sell. More in this video: Super Saturday Holiday Shopping

Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve – Two more intense days for sales at brick-and-mortar stores. This is the final opportunity for shoppers browse for gifts in order to give them in time for Christmas Day, and it’s the last chance to move inventory before final end of year markdowns. But though you may be facing a time crunch, it’s still possible to find deals. How-to tips in this video:  Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips.

December 26 – Kwanzaa – This seven-day celebration starts the day following Christmas and ends on January 1. This week is loaded with post-Christmas and end-of-year discounts being offered, but pay special attention and you may find extra coupon codes and discounts added to address this specific holiday. Ideas, crafts, recipes and gift ideas in our post: 7 Kwanzaa Celebration Ideas.

Day After Christmas and Post Christmas Deals: The day after Christmas is now considered to be a close contender with Black Friday as one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Shoppers are in stores with gift exchanges and returns, and using gift cash and gift cards while taking advantage of end of season sales for items like winter gear, clothing and coats. It’s also a good time to find rock bottom prices on holiday items you might want to stock up on for next year’s holiday season like wrapping paper, holiday cards, and decorations. Discounts are usual offered through January 1 as retailers need to move last year’s inventory to make way for new spring stock. Make the most of your post-holiday shopping with the tips in this video on How to Snag After-Holiday Deals.

 More on how to get the most for your holiday shopping dollar:

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Ways to Cut Everyday Health Care Costs

I know I am not alone in feeling a little panic when facing the skyrocketing costs of health care in the U.S. on everything from an aspirin to surgery to insurance premiums. It seems everyone is looking for ways to combat the rising cost of medical care.

Here are a few pointers and resources with tips that may help reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality:

Always ask. Ask your doctor, hospital, lab, pharmacy, etc. if there is anything they might suggest that would lower the cost of treatment. You’d be surprised at what they might be able to do for you.

  • Ask if discounts are offered to members of groups like AAA, AARP, veterans, government employees, professional or trade unions, or any any other organization or profession you can think of which may qualify you for an affiliated discount, don’t be afraid to ask!
    • Prescription Drug Discount with AAA – This short video explains the AAA prescription drug discount program. But additionally, AAA members also may receive 15 % discount on nutritional products at GNC stores, reduced membership fees at Gold’s Gym and 30% off on regularly priced items at Reebok Outlet Stores.
  • Ask your physician if generic medicines would work for you.
  • Many pharmacies have a list of flat rate $4 or $5 generic prescription medicines available. Ask at the pharmacy for a list of those medications and bring that list to your doctors. Ask your doctors if they might be able to prescribe medications for you from those on the list.
  • Ask your pharmacist if there might be other prescription options that would cost less, and if so, they can call your doctors for approval.

Your county may be providing free prescription Rx discounts cards.

Shop around. Pharmacies vary on the prices they charge for prescription medications just as they do for everything else on their shelves, so shop around to find the lowest prices. Don’t overlook “big box” stores and membership discount stores like Costco and Sam’s Club for rock-bottom prices, on prescriptions and eye care. The price of membership may end up being worth the savings offered.

Keep a look out for free samples and ASK for free samples, from your physician and pharmacy, not only for prescriptions but on a variety of drug store items, too. In addition to asking, there are many websites like our partner,  ShopAtHome.com, that offer special promotions, discounts, giveaways, free shipping, and free samples – for in-store and online shopping.

Use coupons and loyalty programs, and combine the discounts you receive from those with store promotions or sales whenever possible.

  • Coupon Stacking Explained – How coupon stacking works, how easy it is, and a simple tip that adds up to big savings at the cash register from Julia Scott, CEO, BargainBabe.com

Amazon has a “subscribe and save” service that can help cut the cost of anything you buy on a regular interval and offers free shipping with sign up, which can often bring down the cost of regularly used items, like razor blades, toothpaste and tooth brushes, and shampoo at prices well below many big-box discount stores.

Opt for longer lasting items. When you shop for sundries, opt for the items that will last longer, like toothpaste from a tube instead of a pump, or bar soap instead of liquid.

Use less and use it all up. You may be using far more than you need to. Advertisements show us toothbrushes loaded with toothpaste, and luscious streaming waterfalls of shampoo, conditioners, and lotions, but in reality, most often all that is required is a tiny dab. Cut open the tubes when you think they are empty, you’ll be surprised at how much is actually left.

Consider a little do-it-yourself. Several renowned beauty experts have all relied on natural items that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen to achieve the same, if not better, beautiful results as expensive cosmetic treatments, lotions, scrubs, moisturizers, hair conditioners, teeth brighteners, and bath spas. And there are several at-home products that may be effective in treating minor itches and sunburns, too.

Eyeglasses: Register for email notifications from websites like Coastal.com, to receive notice of their deeply discounted sale promotions, as well as their free eyeglass events. An example of a recent sale: 11 eyeglass styles for $11 each. You can even “try on” eyeglass frames online!  I have personally ordered contact lenses from them and was very pleased with their service.

AAA members may receive 30% discounts on eyeglasses, and 10% discounts on contact lenses at Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical.

Consider Bartering –  Bartering is once again emerging as a popular viable option for receiving goods and services, and many medical practices are participating. There are several online bartering sites where you “bank” your skill and/or time for points, and then “swap” your points for medical services.

  • Time Swap – The New BarterConsumer advocate Stacy Johnson from MoneyTalksNews.com explains one online bartering site in this video.
  • Bartering for Health Care – The story of one medical center in Maine that is participating in a barter bank to help make health care more accessible.

Here, from one of our favorite resources, Bottom Line Personal newsletter, from their interview with Clark Howard, host of The Clark Howard Show on CNN’s HLN network.(Volume 32, Number 21, November, 1, 2011), are tips for those not covered by health insurance to receive lower prices on services, prescription medications and eyeglasses:

  • Get health-care providers and pharmacies to bid for your business online. If you requrie a medical, dental or vision procedure that is not covered by your insurance, enter it into the free website PriceDoc.com (registration required). Health-care professionals offer lower-than-normal prices through this site to bring in new clients.  This site tends to be most useful for finding low prices for dental and cosmetic procedures. It’s sometimes possible to obtain discounts of 25% to 30% or more.
  • For prescription medications, check out the free website BidRx.com (registration required). Enter your prescription medications into their site, and pharmacies will offer your their lowest prices. Only reputable U.S. pharmacies are allowed to participate.  If you cannot wait for a medication to arrive by mail, the site can restrict the search to local pharmacies.  Savings of as much as 50% are possible.
  • An online site for eyeglasses at very low prices is Zenni Optical. They offer prescription eyeglasses online for less than $20 — lenses, frames and shipping included. Eyeglasses with special features such as lenses can cost $50 or more. The lenses are ground in China and theframes are not brand names, but the product is good quality. You can upload a picture of yourself to the site and “try on” frames. One downside is there is no post-purchase care or adjustments. You’ll have to bring them to a local optician to adjust fitting issues.  To help ensure a proper fit, make sure your eye doctor checks and records on your prescription your pupillary distance (PD) — the distance between the centers of your pupils.

More from experts on health care savings:

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Is a Debt Relief Service For You?

More than ever, people are feeling money-crunched. The holiday season brings additional challenges and stress, and the new year traditionally is a time to re-examine one’s financial situation and debts. Many people are, for the first time, facing difficulties in critical areas such as managing loan payments and dealing with home foreclosures and bankruptcy. A growing number of people are seeking professional help in navigating the management of their credit and debt. The decision to enter into a debt relief program can be a stressful one in itself. How do you decide if a debt relief program is the right solution for you? How do you decide where to go?

If you have been gathering advice and sifting through personal finance educational material, you know there are more points of view and theories on growing your savings, money-saving and managing credit and debt than one can count. You hear everything from… the ultra-frugal approach to take care of the pennies and the dollars will follow, cut back on everything, bypass that morning cup of coffee purchase, sweat over every penny at every turn, be vigilant with clipping coupons and bargain hunting, and whenever possible do-it-yourself…. to…  those who say forget the pennies; save on the big-ticket items like interest rates and insurance premiums… to.. focus on growing your income… to… recognize your motivations and plan your budget to include goal-related items that you consider to be fulfilling and enjoyable and saving will be practically effortless. How do you know which approach is right?

In addition to the multiple personal finance approaches, there is an onslaught of questions to navigate through, like… which credit cards should I pay off first? Should I act on a zero-interest credit card offer? Should I consolidate my debt? Close credit accounts? Re-finance my loan? How do I effectively negotiate with my debtors and get my credit rating back in good standing? What are the differences between the various debt relief options? What are the right answers?

The truth is, what will work for you is relative to your particular situation and your abilities at any given time. So, how do you know which answer is best for you, now?

The internet, television, radio, magazines and newspapers are full of resources that provide answers; advice is everywhere – including here. SpendLessTV.com has an inventory full of helpful videos with pointers from experts that address dozens of personal finance and budgeting questions. You may be able to tackle debt management and negotiation yourself. Many people have been able to achieve this. But, perhaps you have been utilizing the many available resources in an effort to self-manage your debt, and still you feel unsettled. How do you decide if the time is right to enroll in a debt relief program?

If you answer “yes” to the following questions, a debt relief program may be for you:

  • Is all the information you’ve gathered starting to seem contradictory?
  • Do you feel the need for more clarity and direction?
  • Even after trying, are you still living paycheck to paycheck?
  • Have your savings dwindled?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel an urgent need for immediate assistance?

Should you determine that the time is right to consider a program, how do you choose where to go and who to listen to?

Here is important information from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that you can use to help you evaluate and choose a debt relief counseling service:

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the organization you are considering is positively rated or if there is a history of complaint against it.
  • Are they willing to provide informative insights and educational material up front, at no charge?
  • Are they willing to answer questions and discuss your personal situation with you, disclose what they might or might not be able to do for you, before you enroll?
  • Are they available in person or by phone, as well as online?
  • What services do they offer? Do they offer ongoing support?
  • What are the qualifications of their counselors? Are they accredited or certified? By whom? If not, how were they trained?
  • What are their fees?
  • How are their employees compensated? Are they paid more if you sign up? If so, consider this a red flag and look elsewhere.
  • How can you be assured your private information will be kept confidential and secure?
  • Read everything, and ask questions before signing anything or enrolling… even online.
  • More tips on selecting a credit or debt relief service at Federal Trade Commission.

There are many qualified and reputable debt relief agencies out there. While we cannot provide input on every one, we would like to draw your attention to one group we feel clearly meets this FTC criteria and more, CareOne Debt Relief. CareOne Debt Relief Services have helped over 5 million people, providing resources to help customers be financially fit. SpendLessTV.com often makes use of the CareOne Debt Relief’s easily accessible and valuable educational online resources.  Their budging tools, articles, forums and blog posts are free to everyone and require no sign-up to access. We’ve gained a lot of knowledge from reading their blog posts (which we share here from time to time), and we are impressed that their founder, Bernie Dancel, their own counselors, and many of their clients readily share their own personal stories of both the challenges and successes they’ve experienced in managing debt. Here are a few blog posts offered by CareOne Debt Relief which you may find helpful:

With any financial resource you work with, monitoring your account, staying up-to-date on the progress, and making sure any of your concerns are addressed as quickly as possible remains your responsibility. It’s important to stay in touch and stay connected with whatever resource you choose.

As with any challenge, the key is to take the first step. And in the case of searching for a debt relief program, that first step is just a simple online inquiry or phone call. If you are considering a professional debt counseling service, shop around and ask questions to find a program that you feel comfortable with, and step-by-step, you will succeed.

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We only recommend brands we respect, and we are proud to be a compensated affiliate of the CareOne brand of debt relief services.

Why Bank of America Employees are Bringing Their Lunches To Work

A recent headline on a PBS radio show caught my attention. It said:

Why Bank of America Employees are Bringing Their Lunches to Work.

They then went on to describe how, when employees got word that their employer, Bank of America, may be cutting 40,000 jobs, they immediately went into “austerity mode” and stopped buying lunch out, even hot dogs from the wagon on the sidewalk in front of the building, in order to start holding onto their savings because they may find themselves out of a job in the next few weeks.

Hmmm… am I understanding this correctly? Extravagance and unconscious spending don’t matter if you have an incoming salary? Isn’t saving “always” critical? Isn’t “pay yourself first” the general rule? Isn’t growing one’s emergency savings always a priority? It strikes me as ironic that perhaps the simplest bit of money-saving one can do on a daily basis is one that is ignored when everything “seems” to be okay, but is the first to go when saving “seems” critical. There are many big ways to cut expenses to free up some money to balance your budget or add to your savings like re-negotiating mortgages and insurance policies, but you can still receive notable savings benefits from changing some simple habits, like bringing lunch.

I’m not implying a mindset of deprivation. I’m not a frugality fanatic by any means, and I don’t come even remotely close to being an extreme coupon master, but I do try to be conscious of waste and wasteful spending, like buying lunch out everyday. Taking the easy and accessible alternative of bringing a delicious lunch most of the time is a simple way one can enjoy feeling abundant without unnecessary spending.

We did an earlier post on how much money breaking the bottled water habit would save, and discovered that a family of four could save as much as $2,878.57 per year with the use of a simple home water filter. What about bringing lunch vs buying out? Using Bankrate.com’s Lunch Savings Calculator, we found we could save close to $900 per year, per person, based on lunch purchased out at $6 a day vs BYO bagged at $3.  And what if you choose to go more eco-friendly? What about the added cost of purchasing reusable containers, reusable bags, and running extra dishwasher loads?  Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar blog did the math and found that it only takes one or two lunches to recover the initial cost of the containers, and the cost to wash is just about 3 cents.

Not only does bringing your own lunch save you money (money that could go toward your retirement savings, emergency savings account, or for travel, or holiday fun) but it’s better for your health, too! So why wait?

Related Videos:

Bring Your Own Lunch: DIY vs Pre-made Products – It might be quicker, but does it cost less money? See exactly how much pre-made lunch products are costing you when Grocery School does the math.

Grocery Shopping: Cut Your Tab in Half – Save money, as much as $70 a week, on grocery shopping without sacrificing health or taste, and you can even do it without coupons! Tips from the Good Housekeeping Institute.

 

Healthy Foods on a Budget?You can afford to eat healthier foods – even on a tight budget.  Get tips from nutritionist Natalie that will help you make wise spending and shopping choices and healthier ones, too!

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How to Get Free Gasoline! Gas & Grocery Savings Perks

“You have 400 gasoline credits,” the Stop & Shop cashier told me as she handed me my receipt. I was surprised (and happy) to hear this! I recall hearing about these programs a while back, but thought they were no longer active and hadn’t even considered that my market might be participating! I know, it’s my “business” to know these things, and this one just slipped by until that moment.  But one of the things I love about the topic of money saving is:  there is always something new to discover that will make life a little easier and less costly. So after a little research, I am pleased to report that there are many gas perk/grocery loyalty partnering programs still in effect!

They are simple to use. You use a grocery store loyalty membership card to track and apply gas credits to use at a partnering fuel station. Every time you make a purchase at that grocery store you show that store loyalty card to the grocery cashier and not only might you receive discounts on some of the items you are purchasing, but you will accumulate points that will apply as a price discount on gas purchases you make at participating/partnering gasoline stations. At the gas station, you just show that same grocery loyalty card and the points will be applied to your fuel purchase. It’s that easy.

Some fuel discount programs also give perks when you shop from retailers like Home Depot, JC Penney, and The Gap.

We’ve listed here two popular fuel/grocery discount programs, but check with your own favorite markets and do a Google search to easily see what others also may work for you. With gas prices seeming to be permanently on the rise, it’s worth taking a moment or two to check with your favorite market and take advantage!

Fuel Perks!

You can earn fuel credits two ways with fuelperks! If the place you most frequently shop for groceries is a participating partner with fuelperks!, and you already have a grocery loyalty card, you go to fuelperks.com and register that card with fuelperks!  If you don’t have one, request one from a partnering supermarket. Now, every time that supermarket loyalty card is scanned, you earn fuelperks! points. Fuelperks! grocery retailer partners are: Bi-Lo, Giant Eagle, Martin’s, Roundy’s, and Winn-Dixie. You can also earn credits by shopping online at more than 700 merchants like The Gap, Best Buy, The Home Depot, and JC Penney.

Shell Gas Discount Programs

Shell has partnered up with several grocery stores to give discounts on gas for purchases you  make at participating supermarkets. Your accumulated points are tracked through your grocery loyalty card which the cashier scans each time you shop. If you don’t have one, you can request one from the market or online. You will need to bring that grocery loyalty card with you to the gas station to redeem your credits; when you are at the gas station, before you enter your credit card information at the pump, you have to insert that grocery loyalty card or enter that 13-digit loyalty card number, or show the card to the attendant. Customers can redeem their Gas Rewards points at approximately 600 participating Shell stations in addition to more than 70 existing Stop & Shop gas stations throughout the Northeast. Partnering groceries include: Kroger, Ralph’s, Wei’s Market, Trig’s, Giant Food, Stop & Shop.  Details here.

More Gas and Auto Savings Tips in These Videos:

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How to Get Free Gasoline! Gas & Travel Savings Perks

No matter what we “hear” on the news and in reports, the price of gas has remained high in the U.S. for several years, and that’s most likely how it’s going to remain. The gas price-crunch is a discouraging situation for those planning vacation travel that includes any driving. But there is some good news: there are ways to find deals and save some money when filling your car’s gas tank. One resource for savings is our own SpendLessTV.com’s Car & Gasoline Channel which is loaded with videos giving tons of tips on ways you can get better gas mileage and find the best prices at gas stations. Another way to receive some fuel tank savings AND enjoy your vacation at the same time, is through hotel promotions. Hotels are feeling the travel pinch too, and in an effort to entice visitors, hotels are appealing to traveler’s gas pump price woes! Here is an excerpt from the July 15, 2011 edition one of our favorite resources, the Bottom Line Personal Newsletter, which lists some current hotel promotions via USA Today:

Hotels are offering gas discounts.  Many US hotels are promoting fuel-related discounts this summer to entice travelers. Promotions include free gas gift cards, discounts on rooms when you provide gas receipts and special deals for people who carpool or take mass transit.
Examples: At Affinia Manhattan in New York City, guests can get a $20 gas gift card if they show a mass transit ticket and receipt.  Napa Old World Inn in Napa, California, gives guests who carpool a two-bedroom suite for the price of a standard room through July.  At the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, south Carolina, guests can receive a $50 gas gift card and free night if they book a seven-night stay and check in on a Saturday.

We did a Google search using the term: travel and gas promotions 2011. We found tons of current deals listed… worth taking a few moments to do an online search, or place a call, to see if your destination may be offering a special.

More travel and gas savings tips in these posts:

Save Money on Travel Lodging, Hotels, Cruises

As the cost of travel continues to rise, the price of lodging can run up your expenses quicker than you can keep track of.  Even if you do secure a great price on a hotel room, consider that if you’re traveling with a family you may need more than one room. And the tally for dining, parking, tips, surcharges, phone, minibar, entertainment, sightseeing, and transportation… can really add up.

Hotels are masters of creating an environment where your value judgment can be quickly clouded. In this excerpt from an article by for Wired.com, “The Curse of Mental Accounting” author Jonah Lehrer addresses how this happens and the ways in which our assessment of worth can be easily manipulated:

Needless to say, mental accounting also explains my expensive internet connection. In the end, expensive hotels are able to charge insane amounts of money for Cheerios and wifi because these exorbitant charges get posted to the mental account of the hotel bill, which will be hundreds of dollars anyways. As a result, the charges don’t seem quite so crazy. (This also helps explain why cheap hotels are so much more likely to offer free internet and breakfast buffets. Sometimes, we get more when we pay less.)

If you plan a little ahead of time, and arm yourself with the knowledge of what to expect and the many approaches you can use to help bring those expenses into your control, you can have a wonderful time enjoying, dining, touring museums and historical sights, or just lounging and relaxing without paying astronomical prices to do it wherever your are staying.

The key is to think ahead about what your real desire is and what your real needs will be, and then follow the travel pointers and video tips we’ve assembled here from some of the best travel experts out there… and then go for it!

Lodging:

Hotels can be pricey, we all know this. The place to start is online. Compare prices and deals through sights like tripadvisor.com, hotels.com or cheapoair.com. After you find a few prices, check the hotel’s website for special offers. Then, check sites that offer promotional discount coupons like yeahtravel.com. or FabulousSavings.com And finally, call the specific hotel directly (not the central booking agency if you can avoid it, though it’s becoming more difficult to do this). You have a better chance at negotiating or receiving price-matching, perks or upgrades and securing more favorable cancellation terms when you speak directly to the hotel. Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online booking sites, so ASK if they have a better deal than what you’ve found online or if they can match it.

Our number one top solid sure-fire way that consistently gets discounts, deals or extras on hotel stays is to simply ask. There are almost always discounts available, but they will not volunteer that information. However, if you ask, they are usually more than happy to try to accommodate  you. It will never do you harm to politely ask.

  • Ask the hotel directly if there are any specials or discounts available that you may not be aware of.
  • Ask if they accept membership discounts for organizations like AAA, AARP, veterans, seniors, frequent flyer loyalty programs, etc.
  • Mention that you’re a loyal customer if you have frequented the hotel or the chain before.
  • If the hotel has a loyalty program of their own, you may be entitled to receive a savings or promotional deal. If you are not a member, you can sign up on the phone when making a reservation or right then and there during check-in, and if it is free to join, you have nothing to lose.
  • If you’re at the front desk in person, either at check-in or checkout, and you are asking for special considerations you won’t get very far if you are inconsiderate with your request; ask quietly to avoid putting the agent “on the spot” when other guests are within earshot.
  • The hours between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. can be particularly busy for the reservation desk. It’s check-out time, and the agent may not be able to take the time to try to work with you, so try to avoid calling with special requests or attempting to negotiate between those hours when you can.
  • Some requests are better made at check-out, for example: it’s easier for an agent to remove Wi-Fi charges from your bill than it is to wave them in advance.
  • If you need more than one room, ask if they could give you a break.
  • Ask politely if an upgrade might be available, or if the parking might be included, etc.
  • Want a more spacious room without paying more? Request a corner room.

Bidding on a room can bring huge savings through websites like priceline.com, but we advise to use this only if you are familiar with the area where you will be staying, because it is not until after you confirm the non-refundable purchase, that you  find out which specific hotel you have purchased.

Get to know a new or unfamiliar location by searching websites like tripadvisor.com which offer user reviews and photos. But don’t rule out travel agents. They will often be your best bet for accurate information as well as inside deals.

“Ask for Unpublished Rates” says GetARoom.com founder Bob Diener. He suggests to call the hotel directly and ask for the “Unpublished Rate,” which can save you 20% or more.

You can avoid many extra hotel fees. Be aware that  there are many items that may incur a fee which you may not have been informed of. Ask at check-in for an itemized list of everything they may charge you for, for example: daily newspaper delivery or an extra bed or crib.

Minibar expensescan add up quickly. Some minibars are equipped with a sensor, and you end up with a charge when an item is simply moved – even if you don’t use the item. Find out first before you check-in if that’s the case for your hotel.  Better yet, ask them to remove the mini bar contents and any other “offers” that look like they are “gifts” but aren’t, like that bottle of wine or water, the bag of snacks, or the enticing “gift basket” sitting on the counter. You can even request this to be done before you arrive.

Ask the hotel for a referral to a nearby grocery store, and supply your own snacks and drinks at a fraction of what the hotel charges.

Hotel videos and DVD rentals steep prices can be a drain, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Try renting from a nearby shop for far less.

Hotel Alternatives:

Staying in a home can be a real money saver.You get to experience a location as a resident would, an enriching addition to any travel experience. You can prepare your own meals and snacks and dine in sometimes. A family can be together without needing to secure separate or additional room rentals. Friends can all stay together and share expenses. Deposits are usually required, but would be refunded after your stay if there has been no property damage. Catch the video from the Better Business Bureau for safety pointers.

  • Rent a house or a condo. Home owners list their homes, vacation homes, or timeshares for rent.  Some resources: homeaway.com, vrbo.com, resortquest.com, and interhomeusa.com.
  • Home Swap. If you are a renter or owner of a house, condo, yacht, villa, apartment  or RV consider a home swap, or staying in a home as a guest. Often a vehicle is included in the swap. You pay nothing more than the membership fee.  Some resources:  homeexchange.com charges a minimum enrollment of three months which runs about $47.85.  homelink.org offers a yearly membership fee of about $119.00.
  • House Sitting. If you don’t have a home to swap, it is still possible to stay for free by house sitting. Seasoned traveler Nora Dunn writes about her house sitting experiences for CareOne Debt Services blog and lists three house sitting job listing Web sites.

Smaller sometimes is better. Consider a smaller hotel, pensione or bed and breakfast, ranch, or guest house. Many are privately owned and operated with detailed and friendly pride. They are usually less expensive than a major hotel chain or resort. Often a meal is included. A resource: BedandBreakfast.com.

And, even smaller: Micro Hotels. Ultra small hotels are popping up all over. Typically these offer very, very tiny paired-down rooms, with starting rates as low as $75 a night.  When they began showing up they were often geared toward the younger traveler, but with the growing budget-savvy trend for travelers, there are now many “luxury micro” hotels emerging which provide luxurious amenities. If you aren’t going to be spending much time in your room anyway, this option can offer you tremendous savings. Do an online search using the term “micro hotel” and you’ll find many. A few examples: NYC’s The Pod and The Jane. NiteNite is in London. Yotel, is in London, Amsterdam and just opened in Times Square in NYC, Spring 2011.

Location, think outside the perimeter. If your vacation plans are taking you to one of those popular busy tourist spots or attractions, try this: find your destination city on the map, but before booking your hotel there, check for outlying areas and towns a short distance from that spot. The hotel, dining and shopping rates may be considerably less, but you’ll still be very close to where you want to tour.

A word about all inclusive and Cruises:

All inclusive destinations or cruises can often be a bargain, not only in price but if you’re looking for just about as “worry free” a time as you can get, this is probably your best bet. However, it pays to plan ahead, and that also includes all inclusive vacations. There can be many pitfalls and there are always hidden costs. Find out before you go exactly which services and products are included in the “all inclusive” fare, and which will run up extra charges, like salon and spa visits, top shelf drinks, higher end restaurants, and yes, even disembarking charges. And be advised that port-of-call tours provided by the cruise line are “offered” at premium high-end prices compared to local tour operators you could secure on your own.

More travel money saving articles:

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The Free Pasta Dinner That Almost Got Away… Tips to save money on grocery shopping

We walked into our local Stop ‘n Shop Super Market and were immediately greeted by a sign which read, “Receive a Free Nature’s Promise Pasta and Sauce With Purchase of $25 or More.” Nature’s Promise is Stop ‘n Shop’s house organic brand. We were going to be spending over $25 anyway and we welcomed the opportunity to prepare a dinner on their dime. We finished our shopping, selected our Nature’s Promise pasta and sauce and went to check out. At check out, as the cashier was ringing our purchases up we noticed that she charged us for the pasta and sauce. We mentioned the deal and she removed the pasta charge from the tab.  We reminded her that the deal was supposed to be for both the pasta and the sauce.  She said that no it was only for one or the other. We then showed her the picture we had taken with our phone of the sign at the entrance which clearly states the offer was for both.  Eventually we received credit for both the pasta and the sauce… which once again does prove, it pays to double check, and speak up.  While we enjoyed receiving the credit, the real benefit wasn’t so much the $5 we ended up being credited, but the opportunity to try something new, and the two meals (yes, TWO) we ended up preparing and enjoying as a result.

Related Videos with more supermarket saving pointers:

Eating Well on a Budget – One of the most powerful health investments you can make is to buy & eat healthy food says Dr. Ann Kulze, M.D. She gives tips on what to look for when shopping on a budget.

What Supermarkets Won’t Tell You – What happens when your supermarket feels the economic pinch? You can benefit from knowing these comments of caution from Rachel Solomon of SmartMoney.com regarding: package sizes shrinking, coupons & loyalty cards.

Which Grocery Shopping Technique Saves Most? – 3 grocery shopping techniques, which saves the most money? Surprising results in this consumer comparison study on CBS The Early Show.

What to Ask Your Store – Big money-saving tips on what to ask your grocery store to get the most out of your coupons from Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com.

Catch our previous posts:

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How to Avoid Money Panic – Sean Stephenson & Garrett B. Gunderson

Money Panic – We’ve all been there before and most likely will go there again.

We can’t help but worry about our finances, our savings, taking care of our families, and the list goes on and on.

But does money panic have to get the best of us?

Is there a way to better handle the stress of money panic and its inhibiting effects?

Is there an approach that could reduce our feeling of panic and free us to increase our ability to grow our wealth, our savings, and our ability to be more productive?

In this Exclusive SpendLessTV.com video, How to Avoid Money Panic, relationship expert, therapist, speaker, and author of Get Off Your “But, Sean Stephenson, together with personal finance advisor and author of Killing Sacred Cows, Garrett B. Gunderson discuss ways to remain in control and even prosper during stressful economic situations.

Don’t miss this SpendLessTV Exclusive: How to Avoid Money Panic

More from Sean Stephenson on SLTV:

Enjoy Rich Romantic Times for Less – Sean Stephenson gives you what you need to keep your wallet happy, wine & dine, be cozy, creative, get communicative and… who knows?

More from Garrett B. Gunderson on SLTV:

Magically Lower Your Interest Rates – Save more money & free up your cash flow. Garrett gives 3 magic words you can use to receive lower rates on credit cards, car & personal loans, home mortgages & business lines of credit

Take the Tax Advantage – Gunderson discloses tax advantages you may not have considered that could help you hold onto more of your hard-earned savings.

Claim Your Missing Money – There’s only 1 legitimate place to find out if U.S. government holds any money you may be entitled to. Garrett B. Gunderson and Spend Less TV’s own Michael Fishman tell how they each received theirs!

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Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2010 on SpendLessTV.com

The Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2010 on SpendLessTV.com

We are so fortunate to be able to bring you so much valuable and insightful content provided by the many talented and knowledgeable money-savers from across the globe who are devoted to helping others come closer to achieving personal financial success.

And, a very special acknowledgment with our deepest gratitude and appreciation goes out to all of the contributors in our Originals Channel, who generously gave their skill, time, effort, hearts, and their professional wisdom and expertise in creating videos exclusively for SpendLessTV.com. They are: Daniel Delaney, The Dolans, Marie Forleo, Garrett B. GundersonRyan Lee, Alexis Neely, Joe Polish, Sean Stephenson, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Here is the SpendLessTV.com List of Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2010 :

10. Money Map for Entrepreneurial Success – Alexis Neely (an SLTV Original)

Personal finance/business coach and lawyer, Alexis Neely, shares entrepreneurial insights and shows how true success is easily within your reach. In this SpendLessTV.com Exclusive clip Alexis brings you inside her easy 6-Step Money Map to Freedom Process, to target your true desires for business and life, help you clearly identify your true goals, direct you toward richer financial well being and generate more success.

9. Magically Lower Your Interest Rates – Garrett B. Gunderson  (an SLTV Original)

In this SpendLessTV.com Exclusive video Garrett gives a easy pointers to save more money and free up your cash flow with 3 magic words you can use to receive lower rates on creditcards, car and personal loans, home mortgages, and business lines of credit. Garrett B. Gunderson is the producer and host of the K-TALK.com radio program, “Five Tracks to Wealth, The Producer Power Hour,” and is the author of the New York Times personal finance bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows.

8. Consider Travel Insurance – June Walbert (as of 12/2013 this video is no longer active)

Travel insurance could save you a lot more than just a travel headache. Consider these tips before planning your next big trip from June Walbert, USAA Certified counselor.

7. Clip Coupons: Serious Scissors Tips – Author Unknown

As long as we still need to clip actual coupons from inserts, flyers and newspapers, these pointers are invaluable for speeding up the tedious process.

6. Rich Romantic Times for Less – Sean Stephenson (an SLTV Original)

How do you give your date that rich classy time with a wallet running on empty? In this SpendLessTV.com Exclusive segment relationship expert, therapist, speaker and author of Get Off Your “But,” Sean Stephenson gives you what you need to keep your wallet happy, wine and dine, be cozy, creative, get communicative, and… who knows?

5. Save Big with Shopping Rewards Programs – Karen McGuire & John Ewoldt

Big savings can really add up fast with shopping rewards programs. Star Tribune reporters, Kara McGuire and John Ewoldt, aka: The Dollar Duo, give great pointers to get more out of these programs and save more money.

4. Keep Your Customers! –  Ryan Lee (an SLTV Original)

In this SpendLessTV.com Exclusive clip, Ryan reveals one of the biggest mistakes business owners make and gives you valuable pointers on how to keep your biggest asset – your customers – coming back for more. Ryan Lee turned his love of fitness into a multi-million dollar online empire. Currently, Ryan concentrates on teaching other passionate people how to copy his remarkable business success.

3. Be a Customer Who Gets What You Want! – Gary Vaynerchuk (an SLTV Original)

Customers have more power than ever before. In this SpendLessTV.com Exclusive clip Gary Vaynerchuk speaks on how being an engaged consumer gets you more of what you want from brands. Vaynerchuk is the New York Times bestselling author of Crush It, speaker, video personality, and American businessman who transformed a small family-owned liquor store into a $60+ million annual revenue business in less than 10 years. His blog focuses on business, emerging technologies and cultural trends, and he is co-founder of Vaynermedia.

2. Maintain a Mindset of Abundance – Marie Forleo (an SLTV Original)

In this SpendLessTV.com Exclusive video Marie Forleo shares easy actionable steps you can use to stay strong in creating a platform of abundance to attract success, financial control, and feel great about your potential. A best-selling author, speaker, and online-entrepreneur,  Marie has defied conventional wisdom and helps many achieve phenomenal success through her dynamic coaching programs, masterminds, home study programs, live events and blog.

1. Avoid These 8 Retirement Mistakes! – The Dolans, Ken & Daria (an SLTV Original)

In this SpendLessTV.com exclusive segment, The Dolans give you great advice for all age groups – about saving money, planning for retirement, 401-k’s, & how to avoid costly retirement investment mistakes. For more than 20 years, Ken and Daria Dolan have been the trusted source for real money solutions. Ken and Daria give you the Straight Talk you need to get more bang for every buck, erase debt , save more money and make smarter, more confident and successful money choices.

And additional thanks totoptentopten.com, the website for anything and everything top ten, for providing the inspiration to compile this list, as well as our list of Top Ten Money Saving Tips from Experts, too!

You might also like: The Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2011 on SpendLessTV.com

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