BUFFALO, N.Y. -- While everyone's on a "diet" and running off to the gym, I'll be renewing my New Year's savings resolutions for the year.
This isn't your typical penny-pinching resolution list. You won't find specific rules like the all too familiar "always buy generic" or "brown bag for lunch at work three times a week." These are specific instructions by which I abide, and if any of these ideas interest you, I've passed along a matching website or service to assist.
As always, I'll be sending out more deals via Twitter after the show. You're welcome to follow me.
1. Shop smart
Avoid impulse purchases and always check at least three stores to make sure you've got the best price. Of course, look for coupons and sales too. When you're shopping online, make sure you get a free shipping deal. Never, ever pay full price. Try to buy everything on clearance. Also, don't buy when the stores want you to buy. When those shorts and t-shirts show up in store displays this May, hold off until July to get the biggest deals.
Site to help: The Find is a great comparison shopping site.
2. Always be armed with a coupon
I don't remember the last time I bought something without a coupon. Even if it's just snagging free shipping for an item online to save you a trip to the store (and using more of that precious gas in your fuel tank), coupons and coupon codes are easy.
Sites to help: Offers.com, Couponcodes.com
3. Keep to a budget
Figure out what you spend on all your regular items in a month, try to buy them in as few shopping visits as possible (better still, order them online with free delivery to cut down on your bills at the gas pump), and write down what you spend. You'll save time and spend less -- believe me.
Site to help: Mint.com
4. Kill your debt
This one's crucial. Start by getting rid of any debt you have. Once you pay down that debt, you won't have anything weighing you down next year. Also, always pay your bills on time to avoid paying late fees. To start getting your debt under control, look into a balance transfer credit card. These cards can help aggregate all your debts with a 0% interest rate and you have up to 21 months to repay.
Site to help: Offers balance transfer
5. Think differently
It's 2012. Don't make the same mistakes you did in 2011. Start thinking outside the box: If everyone in your family has a cell phone, is there really any need to pay for your land line? How much cable TV do you really watch? Perhaps a cheaper alternative, like the services from Netflix or Hulu, would serve your purposes just as well. These, of course, are just examples, and they might not work for everyone. The point is, don't stick with what you've always done. Try getting creative and finding new places in your budget to save money.
Site to help: Roku
6. Never eat at a restaurant paying full price
There's still a great way to support are phenomenal local restaurants while still cutting our wallet a break. Restaurant.com is the way to go and signing up for their newsletter gets you constant additional discount codes so at least every month you can buy $25 restaurant.com gift certificates for $2.
Our partner site Deal Chicken also has dining deals from throughout the region.
7. Entertainment books are a must
I keep one in my glove compartment. From great local deals to coffee in the morning, free car washes and incredible two-for-one specials on everything from rental cars to cupcakes, entertainment books save me mad cash every step of the way. CLICK HERE
8. Loyalty doesn't always pay off
I really hate to say it, but switching companies often allows you to nab the best promotional rates. Think about it. When you sign up for service with Time Warner, you get an amazing package with great prices. A year later, that package can almost double in price. By switching from Time Warner to Verizon, I saved a lot of money and when the time comes to switch, I'll likely find a better promotion somewhere else. Since many companies waive activation and setup fees, it actually pays to search around or to at least threaten a switch in the event a company will extend a promotion to keep your business.
9. Preventative spending
Sometimes spending money now can save you big bucks in the future. Things like regular doctor and dentist visits, home upgrades and taking your car in for its regular service can be pricey, but the money you'll save by avoiding larger problems justifies all those expenses. Even things that may seem frivolous can have big benefits: How about investing in that new set of duds for that special presentation in front of management? You may spend a few dollars today, but think long-term savings and this one makes sense.
10. Track your favorite companies on social media
It takes a few seconds to setup an account and whether you like a favorite company on Facebook or follow a great new shop on Twitter, promo codes are often sent out to the exclusive group of folks that give retailers the time of today.
A big thank you to my good friend Roger for helping me brainstorm, for all of his assistance in 2011, and for helping me find inspiration in the year ahead.
Saving money and saving time is not a pastime, it's a lifestyle -- one that you'll never regret trying.
If you have a cheap New Year's resolution, I'd love to hear it. I'm looking forward to spending another great year together.
We receive absolutely no financial compensation for mentioning any company, product, or deal. The purpose of this segment is to find great deals -- that's it.