Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How I Streeeeeetch Each Dollar I Spend, v2.0. Improved.

This is a revised version of my original post, which was, uhh, lacking. I'm critiquing and revising my own post. Sorry you had to click on that. This one is a little better, I think. As always, though, please comment. Of course, my first priority is to try and save, but if I'm going to be spending money anyway, might as well try and stretch each dollar. Everyone has their own tricks on doing this. I'll share mine. There are two categories, regular everyday items and "big ticket" items, over $100.00. For everyday things: 1. Gas, grocery and drug store purchases should be done on a Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards card. You'll get 5% back as "ThankYou" points. One recent change I've noticed is that the 5% back in "ThankYou" points is only for the first year. Instead, you could use the Citi Dividend Platinum Select card and get 5% back cash, up to $300/year. I don't see the first year limitation on that card. 2. Eating out or buying office supplies? Then use the Citi Professional Card for 3% back in "ThankYou" points. 3. Get a "0% APR on purchases" card for everything else. Be sure to consider how much of a balance transfer you might put on this card, or you may not have enough credit to last the entire 0% period. Right now, I'm using an Amex Blue card that's got 0% on purchases until December. Or, you can choose to use a standard 1% back card as well. I'd say go with the 0% cards first though, I'm pretty sure you can do better than 1% over the remaining months of your 0% offer, that is unless you have just a few months left. 4. Tack on AA RewardsNetwork to your credit card! Especially good with the Citi Professional card. Dine program to Citi Professional Card for additional mileage bonus for eating at certain restaurants. You get miles, up to 10 miles per dollar and 3% back! Could equal almost 13% back. 5. Never use cash! Why? You get added benefits for using a card and on top of that they are lending you money for almost a whole month. Sure pennies in interest, but over a lifetime, it could be substantial. 6. And finally, try to buy generics or things on sale. For "big ticket" items, over $100: 1. eBay is your best friend! Search eBay first...you can get a good idea of what price you should expect to pay. Be sure to look at "completed items." This way, you can see what people actually paid. 2. Search, search, search! Google becomes your second best friend. Search for the "Brand + model." For example, "Casio S600." You'll be presented with links to price comparison sites, which leads me to the next point. 3. Use pricewatch.com, pricegrabber.com, and nextag.com to compare prices. Electronics are the easiest things to compare, but almost anything can be compared. 4. Use slickdeals.net, flamingoworld.com, and fatwallet.com. These sites pack tons of great deals, like $30 off $100, 20% codes, etc. Be sure to add their RSS feeds to your reader. 5. Buy with an online merchant that does not charge sales tax! Could be a large savings depending on how much you are spending. Generally, if you see a brick & mortar version of the online merchant in your area, you'll pay sales tax. 6. WAIT. If at all possible. When a deal appears, jump on it. Besides, waiting might make you reconsider your purchase. Do you really need it? Also, if you're interested in free stuff, then check out this site, AbsurdlyCool.com. They only post free things! Pretty cool...actually absurdly cool! Now if only I could use one credit card to pay off another...I'd be getting everything for free (and making some money)! I haven't got into newspaper coupons, yet, but maybe that's next. How about you? Any additional tips on stretching each dollar?

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