Looking for great value is not only good for your wallet, it is good for your soul too. I am a bit of a discount obsessive. I simply love to get a good deal, so the tips on this page represent a lifetime of techniques for hunting down great offers. One friend calls me the 'bargain junkie' but I am proud of that. Here are my budget friendly tips for living within your budget.
First of all, there is the weekly shop. If you don't mind your local supermarket knowing an unhealthy amount of information about you, then their clubcard scheme will give you some basic discounts. However, there are better ways to cut down on your shopping bills. Food bargains are there to be taken.
Talk to your local greengrocer about a weekly fixed and guaranteed order. They will love the guaranteed income that comes from such a deal and will be able to offer a price for the year that will astound you. The same goes for your butcher, baker and fishmonger. You can cut 50% off your grocery bill and be supporting small local companies at the same time. Doesn't that beat the 1% you get from the supermarket.
When it comes to holidays, the web is now the essential bargain hunting tool. For hotels go to breaks on budgets and for flights, try the tips on very cheap flights first. Always be prepared to be flexible about flight times since the cost varies depending on the time of day.
Cars are a difficult topic when it comes to finding a bargain if you don't know what you are doing. Befriending a mechanic (a beer or two down the pub costs very little) is a great solution. The savings you get combined with the peace of mind you will have when you take your mechanic with you to the car dealer are almost priceless. In addition, you have a new friend. The same goes for technical/computer related issues. If you are a luddite, befriend someone who is really in to computers.
Don't get too hung up about whether you are a 'real' friend or not. For me, what starts as a 'bargain friendship' either blossoms into a real friendship or dies off pretty quickly. You will end up doing favours in return for these people and will enjoy that too. It really helps to use facebook and linked in to stay in contact with lots of acquaintances. You never know when you might need to call on their expertise. Don't hesitate to call, because it is just about the most flattering thing you can do for someone's ego.
With clothing bargains I say 'beware false economies'. Buying poorly made cheap fabrics produced in sweatshops by exploited poor people helps nobody. Think about how long something will last when you think about buying it. Go for quality, but don't fall into the trap of equating quality with 'designer'. Some really shoddy merchandise is pumped out by some designer labels.
The easiest way to get a discount is to 'ask and smile'. By confidently asking for a discount with a big smile on your face, you will more often than not be greeted with a positive response. You can save yourself lots and lots of money if you simply ask and smile.
We have found that when you get an item such as a dishwasher fixed by the manufacturer's own repair team you are generally getting a well paid highly trained repair person who is not there to try and sell you anything. In fact they are great at showing you how much control they still have as a professional, despite being a part of a big organisation. This control can extend to not charging for replacement parts. Discuss their job and your financial situation and something might come up. The very worse that will happen is that they will say sorry and then fix your machine.