With being a brand new blogger, I am slowly but surely getting all of the categories and tabs on my blog filled out! It’s time to start sharing in another area of my blog for those of you who are on budgets and would like to know how to make the most of your money. All of the links and tips for getting things free or heavily discounted will be filed under the tab “Let’s save money!” at weliveinspired.com. Feel free to come back and refer to them often and even try some of the stuff for yourself
For quite some time now I have had people ask me how I online shop and how I get the deals I do. I will start out by saying that some of it is luck, because of course deals and freebies change all the time, but I have lots of good tips to help you. It may surprise you to know (heck- it surprised me!) that from like July onward I have been able to get most of the birthday gifts for my loved ones for free! This is a luckier year than most, that is for sure. Luckily, most of the loved ones I shopped for don’t even read my blog, but I suppose I will have to be careful of what I share with you. I am sharing some of my “secrets” with you and letting the cat out of the bag , so to speak. Shhhhh don’t tell!
All of this deal hunting started years ago when I was on a super tight budget and so was Matt for awhile for that matter (job lay off when industry was struggling). Don’t lots of good things come out of necessity? One thing I will say though- no matter how tight the budget, no one in my life has ever had to go without. I always found a way-even if I had to be creative with it! I have used major sales and freebies, and all kinds of internet tools and tricks to not only get awesome gifts for people, but to shop for myself for clothes and what not for years!
The thing about shopping on a budget is that you still want to get the best quality things you can for the money. I am not a cheapskate (that’s a pet peeve of mine), so I don’t sacrifice quality for cost. When it comes to giving, I am generous and love making the gift recipients feel special. I put a lot of thought in to it! So there is a difference between being “cheap” and needing to be mindful of a budget. There are so many creative ways to make the budget stretch and half the fun is in the hunt! So whether you are looking for gifts for someone else, or are just shopping for your own needs, I am going to be sharing lots of tips and my “finds” -especially between now and Christmas! I will also be sharing the things I make for people- but that will be for another section of my website…
So let’s start out with today’s tip. I personally do all of my shopping online or via catalog. Aside from the convenience factor, this is the way I get things free and make the most of my money. One of the free gifts I really scored big on this year was from Stauer (www.stauer.com). I got Mom a really pretty sterling silver tanzanite ring for completely free. Literally, I did not even have to give my credit card because the balance was $0.00.
WHAT!!??? I know, right? That’s crazy talk. Well in this case it was a bit of luck, but you may be able to get a similar deal also. In this case, I don’t know how often they run these deals, but I will tell you how I got this free and some steps you can take to get great discounts and potential freebies of your own in the future:
- Go to stauer.com and request a catalog. You will want to be on their mailing list, because they send out special deals to people on those lists. You can click on a link to request a catalog on the left hand side of the site. This is how I got a free item. Late this summer they sent a mail flyer out to people on their list with a coupon for $50 off ANY order…no minimum purchase. Actually, no matter what the website/catalog is that you are shopping with, make sure you look for those deals because that is essentially free money. My mom and I each got one of these cards in the mail. When I get a deal like this, I specifically look for things that cost the exact amount they are giving me free, so that I don’t have to pay extra money with it. If you wanted to get something that cost more, you would still get a heavily discounted item.
- Another tip- catalog prices and internet prices are different. Check both places for best price. In my case, the ring was less money in the catalog or flyer they sent via snail mail. You just use the catalog code on the back of the mailer to get that pricing. I lucked out, in that this ring was $79 at the website, but was $50 exactly in the catalog (it was a super sale).
- Shop online for your item (even if using the catalog you got via snail mail). If you look at the left hand side of the website , you will see something that says “Free Shipping”. You can only get free shipping (unless they have a special running) when you shop with an agent online. For my area, this company did not charge tax either.
- Sign up for email news and promotions. You can click on another link on the left hand side of their website to sign up for emails, and they will give you $20 off an order for doing so. I did not use any email deals or alerts for this ring freebie, but I do get a lot of “free gift with order” and sale emails that may be useful later.
- Make sure to check out the “Amazing deals section” , and also any flyers and catalogs, as that is where the most heavily discounted items are.
A recap of how I got my totally free gift: I was signed up to get catalogs via mail. The company mailed out a special flyer (not a catalog) that said $50 off any order (no minimum purchase) for a limited time. I looked through a catalog and found an item that cost exactly $50 (compared prices to internet to make sure I was getting best deal). I placed my order online with the “chat” system and gave them both the catalog code of the ring sale, and the coupon code for the $50 discount I got. I also got free shipping for ordering online with the chat system, and there was no tax. My balance was $0. (side note- if you are afraid to give your credit card info to a chat agent, just get a prepaid credit card from the store where you can load the card up with however much money you want. That way if anything bad did happen, there would be no bank account or credit card worries.)
I realize that this was probably a rare deal they send out, but it doesn’t hurt to sign up to get a catalog anyways. You never know when they will run a discount like this again- maybe they will do something for Christmas! ( I will update you next time I get a mailing like this too ). Mom also got the same flyer in the mail, and used hers to get a really nice pair of men’s sunglasses (for my brother). In her case, she had to pay like $3.50, but still! What a great deal, and they look great on him!
Let’s talk quality and my opinion of this shopping experience. Overall, I feel the quality of their stuff is good, considering the price. I do believe like with any discount shopping, you have to be choosey. I personally think their website is a bit full of hype. For instance, the tanzanite ring I got is really a pretty ring. However, on their website they say the ring (which is a total carat weight of 1 and 1/5 carats) retails for $795. In my opinion, this is an exaggeration. Yes, tanzanite is rare and expensive, but this ring is set in sterling silver and the color of the tanzanite is a lighter periwinkle and not a deep, rich, blue-violet. Color has a lot to do with price, so I don’t see how this particular ring would retail for that much. I would personally take note that when it comes to some of the gemstones, they may be a lighter color in person than what the catalog or website shows.
I could have used the $50 to get something non gemstone related. They have these gorgeous cameo soaps that have images of either cherubs or fairies carved in them. They also have a really nice peppermint foot kit from the Watkins company. I just knew the person I was shopping for would prefer the ring :). A far as Mom’s shopping experience, the sunglasses she chose are excellent in quality for the $3.50 she paid!
What did my gift recipient think of her ring? She loved it! She thought it looked sort of vintage and it does look very nice on her. She did say that ” I shouldn’t have, and I really shouldn’t spend so much. ”
So there you have it. I am happy, recipient is happy, it’s a win win! What good deals or “freebies” have you scored lately?