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

9. Watch the price scanner, get free food?

Mistakes on electronic price scans are common at the grocery store. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has found that errors occur in one out of every 32 regularly priced items. Errors are more common on sale items, with one out of 28 items being overcharged to consumers. The cost of being overcharged at the till can add up to many dollars per month per family.

scanner accuracy
The price isn’t right: Scanning mistakes cost consumers money everyday.

In Canada, spotting a scanner error could get you free food, or a discount of up to 100% if that grocery product is priced at $10 or less. The Retail Council of Canada has a Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code that says:

  • If the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge; or
  • If the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the corrected price.

In America there is no national law for scanner price accuracy — it all depends on the state, sometimes even the county or municipality — as to how consumers are compensated for scan errors. Michigan however has a law similar to the Canadian policy, so residents should always keep their eyes peeled at checkout.

Where you save: Many supermarkets and drug stores, and any retailer complying with a scanning accuracy code or law. Check within your country, state, or province to see if discounts apply to miss-scanned items.

10. Join the (secret) club.

Love a store, chain, or brand and shop there often? Ask the manager if your preferred location offers secret sales and special shopping nights through a special club. You might have to a pay a membership fee to join, but the discounts could off-set the joining cost if you need, want, or use the store’s merchandise often.

Also, ask about customer appreciation days, no tax days, or senior discount days to find additional savings by shopping on the right day of the week or month.

Where you save: Lingerie, fashion, and cosmetic chains are a good bet for secret shopping clubs. Expect to save at least 10% on new and off-season merchandise, but be prepared to be wooed often — these chains want your business and you may need to be strong if your budget won’t allow for a shopping extravaganza.

11. Do your research.

Comparison shopping used to require multiple store visits to find the best price. Today, finding the best deal is just a click away! Before settling on a particular brand at a certain store, always research competitor websites, online flyers, and print out any coupons and discounts to bring home the best bargains. Vendors want your business (especially electronics stores) and will often beat an advertised price by up to 10% if you can show them the competitor’s wallet-fattening deal.

Where you save: All products and services. A well-researched consumer is a savvier saving consumer, period.

12. Skip the shops, buy online.

Retailers boasting both brick-and-mortar locations and online storefronts often sell the same merchandise with different price tags. Guess which store is cheaper? Online!

Canon 5D Mark II
Online Discount A high-end Canon 5D Mark II camera bought online for $800 less than sold in store.

If you know your size or don’t need it today, ordering online may be your best path to scoring a discount. Many brick-and-mortar businesses offer online shoppers web deals and deep discounts — pricing they don’t usually offer in-store shoppers due to shelving space costs. And many online-only retailers can often discount over traditional businesses since they don’t have expensive store-front spaces to pay for.

Before buying an item in a physical store, check that retailer’s web inventory to see if there’s a discount for ordering online — your savings could be as much as 25%.

Where you save: Electronics, clothing, kids gear, travel, appliances, and more.

13. Shop with an iGadget.

Those with iPhones, iPads, or any Android gadget can use their bandwidth to bargain shop anywhere, even while face-to-face with a salesperson.

Scout Savings: My book, 397 Ways To Save Money is now on sale (Digital Edition).

Carl and I do this all the time. I needed a camera bag, he wanted a new hard drive, so we found the best prices online and shared our findings with store staff. Local businesses have often matched (and beaten) our stealthily sourced prices too. Carl’s iPad wasn’t cheap to buy, but it’s proved to be an amazing tool to spy savings and source discounts.

Where you save: Anywhere there’s a comparable brand offered at a competing retailer.

14. Use secret online coupons.

Online shoppers can save even more money by searching the internet for secret promotional codes or coupon codes. Just launch your favorite web browser, open your preferred search engine, and enter the retailer’s name and the words ‘coupon code’.

Signing up for a company’s newsletter or email blast can often net you instant savings since you’re now a (more) loyal customer.

online coupons
Secret Coupons: Enter the right promo code at checkout and save money.

Coupon Code Tip: Depending on your search results, you may find several promotional codes that can be entered into your online shopping cart. See 8 Stealth Ways to Uncover Big Savings with Secret Online Coupons for more sneaky cost-cutting coupon tips.

Where you save: Any retailer who offers promotional codes and online coupons. Books, shoes, clothing, electronics, gear.

15. Get free shipping.

A creative method for saving on shipping is to order online from a store that also has a brick-and-mortar storefront and opt for in-store pickup, for free. Not only will you qualify for web-only discounts not offered in the store, but you can get your merchandise much faster by picking it up in person.

A friend of mine used this method to save $150 off the price of a laptop computer by visiting the store in person and ordering the goods using his cell phone’s web browser — he waited only a few minutes to pick up his package.

Another method for scoring free shipping is to search online for promotional codes. Heck, sometimes just entering the words ‘FREE SHIPPING’ in your shopping cart’s promotional code area works. See #14.

Where you save: Any physical product that needs to be shipped.

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

But wait, there’s more! Check out Part One to start from the beginning, or head on over to Part Three.