The Definitive Guide: 22 Ways to get a discount on anything (part three)

This article is Part Thee of The Definitive Guide: 22 Ways to get a discount on anything. To start from the beginning, read Part One, or skip to Part Two.

16. Find the flaw.

Does the table have a visible scratch? Is the shirt missing a button? Was the item on display? If you don’t mind a fixable flaw or two, then choose to buy the less-than-perfect item to save money. Many retailers offer discounts on floor models and demonstration merchandise if they show signs of wear and are still perfectly safe to use.

DOCKSTA Dining table IKEA
Fixable Flaws: Scratched tables sold for over 50% off.

Fixably flawed items worth a second look:

  • AS-IS: Big deals can be found on furniture, clothing, and many other items marked with AS-IS stickers. Be aware this merchandise generally cannot be returned or exchanged since it is marked FINAL SALE.
  • Scratch and Dent: Save huge money on refrigerators, laundry machines, and dishwashers when cosmetic damage blemishes the exterior. Moving appliances around store floors or into customer homes can often wreak havoc on stainless steel and glossy finishes, so if you spy a model with dented armor, be sure to ask for a decent discount. Some retailers even specialize in Scratch and Dent products, so check your local listings to scope out perfectly functional machinery with a less than shiny paint job.

cycling shoes
Flawed? Who cares when the goods will show wear eventually!

If you spy a loose thread or even an unfixable flaw, don’t demean or discredit the store’s merchandise hoping for a price drop. This is rude, and tends to get you nowhere. Always be complimentary of a flawed item and be understanding if a floor model is less than perfect since you want to buy it for less, after all. See #2.

Ikea Trip Tip: Ikea’s AS-IS department (located in the basement) sells floor models and flawed merchandise — sometimes only the box is damaged — at a discount. If you’re shopping for a Billy bookcase or a discontinued slip cover, always check Ikea’s bottom floor for bargain basement prices.

Where you save: Anything, anywhere.

17. Buy refurbished.

Save hundreds of bucks by skipping the latest and greatest gear and buying refurbished electronic gadgets.

Refurbished electronics, also called reconditioned or remanufactured, are items that have been sent back to the manufacturer, usually because the original buyer has changed their mind, or due to minor flaws. The manufacturer replaces any damaged components and tests the item to make sure it performs as new. The item is then resold at a discount, either online or in-store.

Over the years I’ve purchased two laptops, an iPod, and a digital camera — all refurbished and at significant savings with no issues.

Discounts vary depending on the manufacturer, whether the item was leased or returned, and the generation of the refurbished model.

Where you save: Electronics. For example, refurbished iPods and Apple computers can be purchased online at the Apple Store USA and Canada for between 12% to 25% off. The current generation 8GB iPod Touch sells for $169USD refurbished, a 15% savings over the regular $199USD price tag.

18. Shop out of season.

Buying an air conditioner in the cold of winter or shopping for snow tires in the heat of summer can save you up to 75% off the in-season price. When seasons change, retailers must clear out their inventory to make room for new stock, and will often offer deep discounts to savvy shoppers not bothered by last season’s trends.

wrapping paper
It’s a wrap: Stock up on seasonal items like holiday gift wrap for 50% off.

Where you save: Shopping for fancy chocolate after Valentine’s Day, stocking up on wrapping paper after Christmas, and buying all sorts of other off-season goods is the smart way to snag a discount on pretty much anything. I’ve saved up to 70% on kids clothing too.

19. Buy in bulk.

Buy one get one free? Hey, that’s 50% off! Or better yet, ask the store manager (or supervisor) this simple question: What can you do for me if I buy the whole lot?

amsterdam
Three for two: Buy a bunch, and decorate your home for 33% less.

Many boutique shops can swing a bulk discounted deal if the merchandise you want is marked up. So ask for it to be un-marked up! Smile.

Bulk Buying Tip: While traveling through Amsterdam my eye fell in love with a series of art prints. I loved the colors, the matting, and the details in three different prints from the same artist. I wanted all of them, so I asked the shop keeper: What can you do for me? She sold me two at full price, and gave me the third for free, adding up to a 33% discount.

Where you save: Cut yourself a discounted bargain on anything that can be bought in bulk or in multiples.

20. Clip a coupon.

When you shop regularly for a particular grocery or beauty item, it just makes sense to become a coupon clipper to nab instant discounts ranging from a few cents to free. Coupons these days can be found in newspaper inserts, on tear pads in stores, as peelie stickers stuck on products, and on websites ready for printing.

extreme coupons
Clip and Save: The humble coupon could discount your item by 100%.

Since I’m just a causal couponer and I don’t do it to the extreme, I’ll send you to the pros who’ll show you how to stack, save, and trade everyday coupons to bring home discounted goods for cheap and even free.

  • Canada: Follow Cassie Howard’s blog Mrs. January for Canadian deals, coupons, and freebies dished out on a daily basis. An extreme couponer, Cassie also shares the best places to clip coupons in Canada.
  • United States: Check out Tara Kuczykowski’s Deal Seeking Mom (she’s got five kids!) to save big on your grocery bill. With over 100,000 subscribers, you gotta know she’s a couponer to the extreme.

Where you save: Groceries, baby supplies (diapers, anyone?), beauty, and drug store items.

21. Review your service plans.

When was the last time you reviewed your cable, satellite television, internet, landline, or cell phone service plans? Chances are there’s a better deal or discount available if you do a little research and shop around — your provider’s competition may offer deals for those disgruntled customers looking to make a switch. If you love your current provider, it could still pay to comparison shop by asking your vendor to match a competitor’s sweeter deal.

Cable Cutting Tip: I’m a stickler for cutting service plan fees, fighting rate hikes, and keeping an eye on creeping costs. In Breaking up with a cable company is hard to do I share the tactics big telcos employ to keep your business. Cable bill cutters should also read 10 Legal Alternatives to Costly Cable for lower cost entertainment options.

Lastly, be sure to download this tool if you’re trying to cut a service or lodge a complaint: Worksheet: Track your customer service calls to save money.

Where you save: Cell phone, landline, internet, cable television, and satellite radio.

22. Walk Away

When the deal isn’t sweet and your wallet would be whacked by the purchase, do yourself a solid and WALK AWAY. There’s no shame in telling the salesperson: I can’t afford it! or I love the item, but it’s just out of my budget.

vancouver
Hoof it: You’ll save 100% by not buying a darn thing.

Heck, I blame my tight budget and thin wallet for a multitude of purchase fails, and I always walk away with my head held high. You’d be surprised how many people respect you for respecting what you can (and cannot) afford.

Walking away can also be a highly persuasive haggling tactic. Leave your phone number with the salesperson and you might get a call at month’s end when their quota needs a boost. ;)

Where you save: Automobiles, appliances, jewelry, real estate.

Happy hunting (or haggling) for a discount!
Love,
Kerry

Your Turn: What’s your best tip for getting a discount?

Don’t miss out — check out Part One and Part Two to get more savings outta this series.

Your two cents:

  1. Zach March 22nd, 2012

    Thank you for this series! Excellent ideas! I also love the final photo in Vancouver :P I’m homesick now!

  2. Kerry March 22nd, 2012

    Zach: You’re very welcome. I no longer live in Vancouver, but I try to visit often. :)

  3. Marianne March 23rd, 2012

    I’ve heard it suggested that buying a product refurbished is better than buying it new since generally refurbished products are items that had a defect that has now been fixed. I don’t know how much weight this theory holds but it made sense to me.

  4. Linda Furney March 24th, 2012

    Dog class tip(true!): if you want to change a behavior, you must change the behavior. People, like our dogs, do what WORKS! So, when you start to learn about the very very long supply chain that created whatever must have for today, you start learning about the thousands and thousands of humans, animals, toxins, waste etc etc etc all
    along the way…point: can you-right here right now- your values and beliefs with whatever this is? Think….am still trying to, everyday: and have started saving for first time ever.

  5. Linda Furney March 24th, 2012

    Typing does not equal thinking…should read to change behavior, change the MOTIVATION…oops!

  6. Maricris @ SittingAround March 24th, 2012

    Thank you for sharing. Your three part post is very helpful. I bought most of my stuff on discounted prices.

  7. Frugal Fries March 25th, 2012

    I love the Ikea “as is” section. We have gotten so many awesome deals from there, and really all these items need is a good polish and some DIY magic most of the time.

  8. Taline March 25th, 2012

    Great tips! I have definitely practiced some of them and it has saved me a lot of money :)

  9. Tyler S. March 27th, 2012

    I went the refurbished route with both my desktop and laptop computers and saved around $800 total.. not too bad! :)

  10. Connie Solidad August 6th, 2012

    Great article! My mom went a little overboard with buying out of season. Every Valentine’s Day as a kid I would get chocolate she had purchased the day after the last Valentine’s. Buying cheap, yet inedible chocolate is no bargain! =)

  11. Lynn B July 1st, 2014

    I just wanted to weigh in on refurbished electronics. I have owned one refurbished iPod and one refurbished Sansa mp3 player. Maybe I was just unlucky, but both items still had a glitch. Both devices would sometimes just decide to freeze forcing me to hard boot the thing. Not disastrous but annoying, especially when I had to stop during a run to do it. If you decide to buy refurb, make sure the return policy allows you the normal returns and everything just in case.

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