If the internet’s entire collective personal finance wisdom were distilled to a t-shirt slogan it would say: “spend less than you earn”.
That is great advice, yet living has unavoidable costs associated with it. We all have bills to pay, groceries to buy, the tax man to appease, and so on.
There are a number of smarter shopping things anyone can do offset or reduce the cost of purchasing things there were going to buy anyway.
Cash back portals
Customers sign up for a (free) account, then via a portal click through to the online stores they would have shopped at anyway. Any purchases subsequently made generate a small commission for the portal, who then split it with the customer.
Shopping using these programmes effectively results in the customer receiving a discount in the range of 1% to 10% on the purchases they were already going to make.
There are plenty of websites dedicated to “travel hacking”, essentially the pursuit of loyalty/frequent flyer programme reward points. These kinds of points are easy to accrue but notoriously difficult to effectively use if (like me) you are trapped in the peak school holiday travelling windows.
A more usable smarter shopping alternative to the pursuit of travel reward points is “cash back” credit cards. Retail chains such as Amazon and John Lewis offer credit cards that reward usage with gift vouchers. The cash back rate is typically around 1% of the card balance, though some brands incentivise purchases in their own stores.
Always pay your card balances off in full every month to avoid the loan shark level interest payments.
Cash back bank accounts
There are some current accounts that offer a similar “cash back” facility to the credit cards described above. Run the numbers on these however. The monthly account keeping fees may exceed the accrued reward value. Remember bank fees are optional.
In January 2018 it became illegal in Europe for merchants to penalise customers for paying via debit or credit cards.
This means it is time to revisit the decision about whether to pay recurring bills via direct debit.
Now that the invoice amount must be the same regardless of payment method, paying your utility bills and insurance premiums with a reward credit card becomes an attractive smarter shopping option.
Stores are perpetually on sale. Only impatient people paying full price for things. Before making a purchase, Google for voucher codes or promo codes being offered by the store you are shopping at. Common discounts such as free shipping or additional percentages off the advertised prices are easy to find.
This post has outlined some free and easy smarter shopping ways to pay save money on goods and services you were going to purchase anyway. None require an additional investment of your time, which is your most valuable commodity.
- Do your homework, then take out an appropriate reward generating credit card for your spending pattern.
- Reconsider direct debit payment options, it may now be preferrable to pay bills via a reward card.
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