DETROIT – Over the next few months, many of us will be spending a lot of money.
From Back-to-School shopping right into the holiday season, the end of the year is a virtual festival of shopping. If you know where to find the hidden deals, cash back, and bargain alerts- you could end up with some extra cash in your pocket.
And, it's no surprise that savvy shoppers live to save money. "I love it. To me it's my drug of choice. A good deal is the best thing in the world, I think," said Ashley Reynolds of Royal Oak.
Personal finance expert Regina Lewis knows people are looking to save money and they want to save even more.
"We've seen a resurgence in coupon use which is terrific, but how do you up the ante? How do you do better than that?"
Lewis says the first thing you need to do is make sure retailers know you are what she calls a "bargain bee". That way you won't be left out when companies send their latest promotions.
"Because you've essentially signaled to the retail world that I'm a deal seeker, and if you don't do that, on the flip side don't expect them to tell you about every sale, and every promotion and every free shipping offer because you don't normally require that," Lewis advised.
Here's how to tell the world you are a "bargain bee."
*Sign up for newsletters from your favorite retailers
*Make sure you redeem coupons and other offers regularly, stores track that sort of thing
*Always demand free shipping. If a company knows that's your preference, you're more likely to be notified of special offers
Lewis assured shoppers, "The more you act like a bargain bee- the better bargains come your way."
Hidden Deals, Check Your Shopping Cart
As for hidden deals, Lewis says shoppers could be missing some of the best prices. She says when you're shopping online and don't see a price tag next to an item, that can actually be a good thing.
"It can mean its too low to show. In other words the manufacturer has precluded the website from actually advertising a price below a certain level," the personal finance expert explained.
Instead, Lewis says put the item in your shopping cart and the price will be revealed when you go to check out. At that point, you can change your mind if you want, but she believes you could be pleasantly surprised by what you see.
Dining Out Deals
You can also save money without giving up dinner at your favorite restaurant.
"I think when dining out off-peak hours is really the biggie. So, a Tuesday when a restaurant may have more seats that a Saturday night... they may have specials," said Lewis.
Leo Slatin and Sherri Look of Southfield agreed. He said, "If you can find sales or specials you can have an opportunity to go out more." And Sherri said, "Yeah, two times versus one time a week."
Maximize Cash Back Rewards
Finally, make sure you're maximizing all the cash back options on all your credit cards. For example, Bank of America offers something called "Bank-Ameri-Deals" You can sign up for cash back in many categories from car repair to fast food. Lewis says don't forget a little cash back a few times a week can add up.
"We often think of cash back on big ticket items like a flat screen or a car- but taking advantage of cash back on smaller ticket items-- where the lion's share of our spending is like food is important," Lewis said.
As we head into the busy shopping months at the end of the year, now is the perfect time to review the rewards on all your credit cards so you get all the savings you're entitled to.
Shoppers Share Their Secrets
We asked shoppers in Birmingham for more money saving tips.
Lucious Tripp of Hazel Park said, "I do my shopping off season. So, during the winter I buy summer clothes. During the summer I buy winter clothes. I do a lot of clearance shopping, hit the thrift stores.
While Ashley Reynolds of Royal Oak added this tip, "I also love to use my iPhone. I find that you can find coupons for a lot of places, so if you just type in whatever store you're at and then coupons, a lot of times you'll find an additional percent off."