Get lower prices – on stuff you’ve already bought

For some people, shopping is fun. Finding deals is even better. Even if you’re not a big believer in retail therapy, you feel a certain satisfaction when you finally locate and purchase a pair of pants that actually fits, right?

Until the same pants go on sale the next week. Then those trousers that seemed like a good deal at $40 feel like a rip-off. If only you’d waited! You could have had them for $25! Now your new pants are tainted, and you’ll stew over that $15 every time you wear them.

Don’t fret. You can get that money back. Here’s how.

The direct approach

If you see that the price on a recent purchase has been lowered, go directly to the retailer. Many large retailers – such as Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Best Buy – will honor price adjustments if you have a printed receipt or online order number. Most stores will match a competitor’s prices before you buy, but only their own afterward. Target is an exception: They’ll match other stores’ prices for two weeks after purchase.

If you booked a hotel room and saw the price go down, call the hotel and ask to have your bill adjusted to the lower rate. Or, if you won’t face fees, you can cancel your reservation and book again.

The plastic approach

Some credit cards – not all – offer another option called price protection. If your card has price protection, you’ll have to do a little legwork to use it. You’ll probably have to register items after you buy them with your card, then fill out a form after any price drop to get the difference back. Discover customers can receive up to $500 back on items, while Citi’s Price Rewind searches online sites for you in search of lowered prices.

Price protection involves a lot of fine print. You usually have to initiate the process within 60 days, but sometimes you get 90. Get ready for exclusions galore, too. To help you navigate the waters, NerdWallet has a handy breakdown of cards and their price protection features.

The app approach

It sure would be nice if you could scour stores for lower prices without wasting a bunch of time and developing carpal tunnel. Luckily, this is 2017 and there’s an app for that.

It’s called Paribus. Here’s how it works.

After you sign up using your email and your established online shopping accounts, Paribus’ clever little e-detectives scan and monitor your incoming receipts looking for any money that was left on the table. Paribus doesn’t just look for lowered prices and sales. It even knows whether you’ve missed a coupon.

For every discrepancy found, Paribus can submit a claim on your behalf. Then, the money you’re owed, minus a 25 percent commission – goes back into your shopping account.

Paribus involves the least amount of hassle, but it only works on online buys. Everything else requires you to pay close attention to sales and fill out some tiresome forms. But when it comes to bigger purchases, you could be looking at real money. So keep your eyes peeled, and never feel ashamed for demanding the best price.

 

 

 

 

Last-minute gifts don’t have to be lame. Unless that’s the idea.

Some people are just hard to buy for. So you wait and wait, until suddenly it’s crunch time. Here are some not-so-lame gift ideas if you find yourself stuck.

Buying for someone who lives to laugh? Raise the everyday humor ante with these titles.

  • You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein. The memoir of a tomboy and a late bloomer, from one of Amy Schumer’s head writers.
  • American Housewife, by Helen Ellis. Twelve short stories of women under pressure range from the acerbic to the surreal.
  • I’m Just a Person, by Tig Notaro. The comedian’s personal tale of four months of tragedy has been known to cause laughter through tears.

Need something for that coworker who thinks they’re Wolfgang Puck?

  • Les Moulins Mahjoub Natural Preserved Lemons. Offer to be a taster for new recipes.
  • Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste. Made with Madagascar bourbon. For intense flavor and those telltale “real vanilla” specks.
  • An apron with a measuring cheat sheet on it. Because the metric system is for people with funny accents.

Know an old guy who needs nothing? Maybe you call him your boss. Or “Dad.”

  • A wilderness fire starter. He’s not outdoorsy, you say? Doesn’t matter. Males love fire.
  • A scratch-off map of the world. He’ll be able to tell young’uns all his travel stories with a visual aid for a change.
  • Night Vision Driving Glasses. He’ll feel like a Navy SEAL when he’s going out to get milk after dark.

Passive-aggressive gifts for that woman in your life who gives out backhanded compliments, as in: “That outfit really creates the illusion of a waistline.”

  • A cellulite massager. That is all.
  • An illuminated makeup mirror. Tell her, “I think better lighting will just make all the difference.” Practice saying it with a straight face.
  • A succulent garden containing cacti. Because it’s prickly.

For the children in your life, or just people who live their lives as such.

  • Hatchimals. New for 2016, these spotted “eggs” eventually reveal magical creatures inside.
  • Kinetic Sand. Hours of fun and less messy than it sounds, too.
  • A Buddha Board. It uses water as vanishing paint, like Snapchat for doodlers.

Oh, someone fancies themselves an artist, do they?

  • Twistables Slick Stix: Hard to find in stores, these Crayola twist-ups are a dream combo of crayons, pastels and markers.
  • Dylusions Ink Spray: You could spray them, but most people stencil, stamp and paint to create dynamic transparencies with these waterproof acrylics.
  • Washi Tape: It’s like beauty you can unroll. Washi is an obsession on Pinterest, where crafters use it to mark up calendars, wrap presents and take scrapbooking to the next level.

When you’re last-minute shopping, Amazon Prime and other free-shipping sites can be your best friends, but don’t count out locally owned brick-and-mortar stores for inspiration and unique finds. Just make sure you go in with a list and a plan.

You also might be tempted into grabbing a few things for yourself – just admit it now – but make sure that’s built into your holiday budget, too.

 

 

Day 3: Make a List

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What was it that Jeremy’s cousin’s niece said she wanted for Christmas again? And I know I needed something for the kitchen…what was it? Detergent? Soap? Agggghhhhhh.

We’ve all been there. Make life easier and draft a quick list before you hit the stores. Then, stick to it. It’s tough, but that Apple Mango Tango air freshener combined with that three-pound bag of candy and the latest issue of Cosmopolitan can really add up quick.

And, if you’ve got a few moments here’s a fun throwback from Jerry Seinfeld’s take on the supermarket: https://vimeo.com/14039395.

 

 

Day 1: Be Wary of Expiration Dates

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Let’s be honest, the grocery store is never a peaceful experience. From getting lost in the isles  …

To stocking up on that must-have item…

Expiration dates are never top of mind. Make a habit of grabbing from the back, where the items with longer expiration dates live. You might not make friends with the grocers, but your food will last longer, saving you some moolah.

Have savings tips you want to share? Sound off in the comments below.