Extreme couponing is not just about the coupons, it’s about the asking price too. One of the basic principals of extreme couponing to save money is to look for sales – places you can buy what you need or what at a significant discount, than apply discount coupons to the sale price to reduce your cost even more, or even to zero.
One of the challenges in saving money while shopping is that coupons are mainly available for grocery and personal care items. There are rarely coupons for bigger ticket items or things found in hardware stores, clothing stores and furniture stores. There is actually a great little secret technique to cut the cost of buying almost anything – discounted gift cards.
Discounted gift cards come from several sources and through different routes:
Individuals: Some individuals get gift cards as gifts, win them, or get them for returning something to the store, but find they can’t or don’t want to use the cards. There are now a variety of websites that facilitate the sale of these gift cards to other people at a discount. The better sites verify the card balance which gives a high level of comfort to the buyer, while handling the collection of the cash from the buyer which gives assurance of being paid to the seller.
Sometimes discounted cards can be spotted on Craigslist and other free classified sites. If buying direct through Craigslist be safe. Buy local, meat the seller at the store and verify the balance on the gift card before handing over the cash.
Resellers: Some companies buy gift cards at a large discount in bulk from retailers and then resell them for face value. For example, several grocery stores I use sell resturant, cell phone, and other gift cards by the tills. Of more interest are the resellers that share part of the discount with the end buyer (you). These resellers are generally on line, and include some of the sites that are also brokering cards between individuals. don’t expect massive discounts, especially on really popular cards anyone can use easily (like Wal-Mart), but a 5% discount at Wal-Mart is better than no discount at all.
Direct from Retailers: These deals can be harder to track down, but when you find them they can be pretty sweet. For example, last Christmas Subway was running a deal where they gave you a free sandwich when you bought a Subway gift card. They marketed it as a bonus for giving a gift to someone else, but you could just buy the cards for yourself to use, and enjoy the free sandwiches. Then when you use the gift cards later, combine them with coupons.
Retailers know that something in the range of 50% of gift cards never get redeemed as people lose them or forget them. Therefore selling gift cards is like printing money for a retailer at a very low cost. If you can manage to track and redeem your gift cards however, you can really save some serious money using discounted gift cards.