Saving money doesn’t begin at the register. Many teachers buy things out of pocket (some of you more than others). And when you look into your wallet at the end of the first month back on the job, your wallet is the most empty. Despite all those great “Back to School” sales in mortar and brick stores, sometimes it’s just not enough; it’s hard to make ends meet or, dare I say, get ahead.
So what if I told you there’s another 8 – 15% you could save before it’s even your turn in line?
I’ve realize that many people I’ve spoken with don’t know about the awesomeness called online gift cards. I buy them all the time. Lately, it’s more for Lowe’s and Home Depot since I’ve been doing lots of home renovations, but really, any store that sells gift cards is one whose used (and sometimes unused) cards can be purchased online for a discount. Yes, it’s like free cash!
Ever receive a gift card to a store you’d never shop at? Ever find yourself having used that card maybe once to buy something trivial just to use it up and then thought what you’d do with that useless card? These cards often wind up hanging around one’s house or handbag. Selling them online is a great way to get rid of them. And someone else’s loss is your gain because you can sweep up a few of them for less than their face value thereby putting money back in your own pocket.
One thing to know: there’s a difference between buying a physical gift card (the plastic type that looks like a credit card) and buying an online gift card (the kind you print out which has a bar code for the card right there in the printout). The later is the best of the two types for two very important reasons: 1) you don’t have to wait for it to come via snail mail, and 2) they percentage you save tends to be slightly more, although if the percentage saved is good, and you don’t mind waiting, discounted plastic cards are fine, too.
I tend to surf the discounts at Gift Card Zen as I know I can find printable versions there (not for everything, mind you). And once I do find what I’m looking for, if there happens to be many cards listed, I’ll wait to buy (if possible) because the longer they sit, the higher the percentage you save will be.
If you don’t see what you need there, check out Gift Card Granny. It’s a great aggregate site that looks at all the major gift card sales sites, like Gift Card Zen, and tells you the percentage you’ll save and how much the value of the card is for. It’s a nice way to compare the prices.
[PLEASE NOTE: I do not get a single dime in affiliate money (or any other kind of money, I wish!) for recommending these two sites. I’m just a fan of both sites.]
If the store you’re shopping at doesn’t have a sale going on but generally hands out monthly or seasonal sales coupons, check on eBay to see if someone is selling one. This is particularly helpful if you’re making a big purchase, because you might spend $5 on a single coupon (less for less popular stores). You’ll find both physical and online coupons for sale (mostly physical). Do the math and figure out of you can cover the cost of the coupon and still save enough for it to be worth it for whatever purchase you intend to make.
I can tell you that using a combination of the two tips above, I wound up saving $1,000 on the cost of buying my new shower doors for the bathroom remodel I did last August. And that’s just the doors. I will never make any large purchases from Home Depot or Lowe’s ever again without those two things in hand.
So for those of you posting pictures on Instagram of your Joann Fabrics and Container Store finds with sales of up to 50% off, just imagine getting another 8 – 15% off on top of that (not including if they’ll take your sales coupon you bought online!), and you don’t even have to feel bad for hassling any store clerks.
Got a great tip you want to add to the conversation? Drop it below and help out a fellow school teacher!