CamelCamelCamel

Whenever I’m contemplating a purchase from Amazon, I always check CamelCamelCamel.  Products on Amazon fluctuate in price, just like most products do in physical retail stores.  By checking the price history of an item, I can see if I’d be buying it at the higher or lower end of the price range.  If it’s currently at the higher end, I’ll wait a while before buying because the price will most likely go down again.

And that concludes the week of shopping posts!  I hope you learned something new and useful this week!

Slickdeals

Slickdeals is a great site for deals on electronics.  They also advertise deals for random things like diapers, magazine subscriptions and credit cards.  But for the most part, Slickdeals is where you want to go when you’ve been looking to buy a printer, camera or laptop on sale.

Word of caution – I’ve been baited into buying quite a few things I didn’t need thanks to this site.  I suggest only checking Slickdeals regularly if you’ve truly been on the look out for something in particular.  Or else you’ll find yourself saying things like “I guess I have always wanted an electronic toothbrush…”

Happy Thanksgiving!

RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot is another handy site for online shopping.  If there is a promo code floating around out there for 10% off, free shipping or free gift with purchase, it will most likely show up on RetailMeNot.  You’ll also find quite a few printable coupons on their site.  If you use this in conjunction with Ebates, you could probably get a few dollars back every time you make an online purchase.  A few dollars might not sound like much but it could at least cover the cost of tax.  And who doesn’t love a tax-free purchase?

So next time when you’re on the payment page of your online order, stop and take a quick look at RetailMeNot to see if they have any “promo codes” you can use.

Ebates

If you shop online, you should definitely take advantage of Ebates – a site that refunds you a percentage of your online purchases.

When my friend first told me about Ebates, I was skeptical.  But she swore it worked for her multiple times so I decided to give it a try myself.  Lo and behold, a few months after my first online purchase, I received a check from them in the mail!  Granted, it was like $2.35 or something.  But still better than nothing, right?  You even get a $10 gift card when you sign up.

Just remember, Ebates shouldn’t be used as an excuse to shop even more but as a way to get some money back that you would’ve spent anyway.

Buying Happiness

This Friday is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.  So I thought it’d only be appropriate to dedicate the entire week to this popular pastime.

After reading Overdressed, my appetite for shopping, especially for new clothes, has pretty much been nonexistent.  Sure, I’ll get an urge here and there.  But overall my desire to shop sustainably consistently outweighs my desire for that high you get from purchasing something new (and pretty).  I don’t recommend participating in the Black Friday shopping fiasco but if you must take advantage of the deals offered this week, consider buying stuff for others instead of buying stuff for yourself.  It’s one of the few ways that money can buy happiness:

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

Not all debt is created equal.  Having some debt is actually necessary for building credit.  Why credit is important will be covered another day.

Bad debt includes:

  • credit card debt
  • car debt (this one’s a bit controversial because it depends on a lot of other factors)

Good debt includes:

  • mortgage (with a 20% down payment or more)
  • student loans

A lot of people don’t realize how counterproductive it is to aggressively pay off their student loans then turn around and finance a new car they can’t really afford.  That’s trading good debt for bad debt.

As a general rule, don’t be in such a rush to pay off your good debt.  But make sure you DO pay the balance on time each month!  This is very important because if you don’t, it will hurt your credit score A LOT.  And try to pay off your bad debt ASAP, starting with the one with the highest interest rate (APR).

Paying Your Credit Card Bills

I like to pay my credit card bills every week or at least every other week.  It sounds excessive but it keeps my spending in check because I’m not misled by what it says in my checking account.  When my checking account says I have $1,000, I feel like I have a lot of extra spending money.  But then I’m faced with a $980 bill at the end of the month and realize I was cutting it a bit too close.  By paying my credit card bills every week, I see a more accurate reflection of how much I really have in my checking account.  I can also easily tell if I’m spending too much too fast.

An added bonus to this habit is I’m able to spot errors or fraud charges right away.  By skimming through my most recent transactions right before I pay, my purchases are pretty fresh in my mind so I know when a restaurant accidentally charged me $21 when I only paid $12.  If I waited a month to review my statement, I probably wouldn’t have remembered how much I spent on dinner that night and just chalked it up to a random expensive meal.

How often do you pay your credit card bills?  Do you pay them frequently like me?  Wait till right before it’s due?  Or somewhere in between?