Saturday, March 3, 2012

How to be a Cheap Bitch™

That's right, this is my first post that ISN'T about fashion, bodies, sexy bitches, etc. 

This post is going to explore my biggest hobby of all (well online window shopping is PROBABLY my first, though not quite as productive). That hobby would be getting stuff for free/very cheap. 

At this state in my life, I'm not at leisure of a very large, disposable income. I wish I could say it's because I'm a poor college student, but I'm actually just a poor college drop-out suffering the consequences of the dreaded loan repayments. (Either don't go, or don't drop out kids!) A year ago I lived completely on my own, working a full-time job, paying too much rent for my crappy apartment, with two small children (okay, cats), and way too many loans. Unfortunately I had to resort to begging my parents for help on several occasions, which is probably my least favourite thing in the world. Thankfully, my mom and stepdad are the sweetest, most supportive people I've ever met, but there is nothing I hate more than having to admit I need financial help. 

So around that time I decided to start being more frugal. I mean, I was just buying groceries and nothing else, but I didn't really understand that just because I didn't have much money didn't mean I had to sacrifice other small pleasures in life. Here are some helpful things I do to help conserve money by getting coupons, free shit, and just general awesome, discounted stuff. And guess what - I literally don't even have to get off my butt to do any of it!

1. Discounted Invite-Only Websites

I wasn't sure what else to call these. You may have heard of a few but not really known what it was all about, which was my first impression. The first one I joined (and by far my favourite) was I don't really remember where I first got an invite link, but since joining last summer I've gotten $105 in site credit and bought A TON of totally awesome things. Here are a few examples from the five orders I've made:

In short, every day they post around 5-10 small shops featuring different artists and companies with various goods, and it's all discounted. Sometimes it's extravagant spices, blankets, jewelry, art prints, kitchen utensils - if you need something awesome, they probably have it. You receive credits for inviting friends - at just 10 invites, you receive $30! Sometimes they will send you $10 just for being a member. And if you allow their "Social Shopping" (basically it just posts on your Facebook wall when you make a purchase) you get $10 a month, and you don't even have to buy anything. I have basically gotten $105 worth of stuff for sitting on my butt.

Seriously, I can't recommend them enough. If you're interested, here's my invite link.

Another site I'm liking so far is sneakpeeq. They are quite similar to fab, though it seems they have a very slow shipping time (I placed two orders in mid-February and they still haven't shipped. That's not uncommon for these kinds of sites, but damn I mean really.) They also do a pretty cool idea for discounts, they call them "badges". You get badges for doing various things on the site, most of them are as simple as looking at items, liking them, or just being a new member. A few I have gained were free shipping, free surprise item with first purchase, and $10 free credit. I've bought a scarf, necklace, and some Yes to Carrots beauty products and only spent $2. Here's an invite link!

Other sites like this include hautelook (great for discounted high-end beauty products) and Ruelala. But there are a ton out there! If you see an invite link floating around, give it a try! They're a great way to get cool stuff without spending much (or sometimes, anything at all!). 

2. Frugal Blogs

Some people are just awesome at getting stuff free/cheap, and are nice enough to make blogs about it to help other people out. I wish I had the time and dedication for it, but I'm very grateful that some people do! 

My favourite free stuff/coupon blog BY FAR is hip2save. She's an awesome mommy that posts freebies, sales, and cheap deals INCREDIBLY FAST. She walks you through each scenario so you know how and where to get everything. She also has a facebook page, in case you don't feel like refreshing her blog every five seconds. 

Another I'm quite fond of is The Broke Student Guide. She doesn't post quite as often, but she posts GREAT info about how to get almost anything for free, especially if you're struggling in college. 

There are tons more out there, but those are the ones I personally like best. If you can't get enough, just Google search for "money saving blogs" or "coupon blogs"! 

3. Freebie Facebooks

Someone once recommended to me a few facebook freebie pages and they are GREAT. You would be surprised at how many big companies with facebooks do giveaways daily! I've scored all kinds of stuff - samples of beauty products, full sized energy drinks, coffee, t-shirts, coupons for full sized products of all kinds, and more! 

You may think samples are a waste of time, but they're absolutely not. You're basically clicking a link, putting in your shipping information, and getting to try out a product for free, which is way better in my opinion than throwing out some money on a product you may (or may not) like. I also hoard my samples for vacations or trips home to see my family. They are useful, and you're doing absolutely nothing for them!

These facebooks will pop up in your news feed as soon as the giveaways happen, and they usually go very fast. Here are my two favourite freebie facebooks - Freebies~Samples~Deals and FreebiEasy.

4. Couponing

I'll admit, I really didn't like coupons before. I think they're a bit humiliating, having to be THAT girl at the checkout counter handing in one million little scraps of paper and holding up the line. I'm still not to that comfort level yet, but I'll admit, coupons are awesome!

What I like most about the freebie blogs/facebooks I posted above are that a lot of the links they provide are for coupons they will mail straight to you. You can request one if you want it, keep scrolling if you don't. And there's no searching through ads to see if you actually need anything. My favourite things to get coupons for are cat food, hair color, and makeup. You would be surprised how much a dollar or two off can help out!

5. A few more helpful hints

If you're shopping ANYWHERE online, never forget that there could be secret discount codes that aren't posted on the site! Always check Retail Me Not before making a purchase to see if you can get some $$$ off. 

Also, a lot of companies have members-only benefits. Sephora's Beauty Insider is a great example. For the purchases you make, you can receive free samples, points towards free items, or other perks. If you're a frequent online shopper, look out for special sign-ups for free to help you work towards free items in the future.

Even if you plan on shopping somewhere in person, don't forget to check their websites first for coupons! If you don't have a printer (like me) don't fret. Usually all it takes is pulling the coupon up on your phone and showing it to the cashier to receive the discount.

Lastly, don't be afraid to be cheap! If you're looking for something specific, SCOUR the internet for every single place you could possibly buy it. A lot of times you can get the same item you would be buying for much less on sites like amazon or ebay