Haggle-free discounts: easiest ways to make the most of your money
Want to reduce your spending and pay less for those essential items and luxuries but hate the idea of haggling? Never fear, there are discounts to be had without have to face a hard-nosed salesperson.
For many cultures haggling is an everyday, and usually enjoyable, part of life but for us reserved Britons and our fear of making a fuss, the idea of battling for a bargain is anathema.
But just because you don't want to do your best Del Trotter impersonation to get a better deal, doesn't mean you have to miss out. There are lots of ways to grab a bargain and take advantage of discounts so you can save pennies while saving face.
Review your outgoings
If you want to pay less, the first step is to review exactly what is going out, examining direct debits in particular.
Your household bills are the first area where you can make a potential savings, and energy bills are a good place to start when trying to lower your costs.
We all know that heating a home is becoming more expensive; according to consumer group Which? the average energy bill has increased £410 a year in a decade despite households using less.
It's easy to switch energy companies without having to phone up and haggle with someone on the phone. Services like uSwitch and GoCompare will help you find out if you are getting the best value heating and help you switch if there is a better deal to be had elsewhere.
GoCompare said 51% of customers save £166 or more a year by changing suppliers, it's a fast way to get that warm money-saving feeling!
Comparison sites aren't just useful for reducing heating bills, insurance is another major essential outlay for many households, whether it be for the home, car, holidays, or for you.
Many people make the mistake of allowing their insurance policies to renew automatically, especially home and car insurance, without finding out whether they're still getting the best deal on the market.
Gocompare estimates that allowing your car insurance to roll over in to another year costs on average £222 a year more than searching for a better deal.
Make sure you know when your deals are about to expire and do your homework beforehand so you're ready to move. For insurance policies that aren't automatically renewed such as life insurance, make sure you check them annually to ensure they are still offering the right coverage and at the right price.
Buying something and realising you could have got it cheaper elsewhere is very frustrating but lots of companies are now offering price promises, meaning if you find a better deal elsewhere it will match the new lower price for you.
All you need to do is take proof of the lower price, for example a link to a website, and your evidence does the haggling for you.
For example, bike shop Evans has a 'price match promise' that means if you find a cheaper price for its goods – including voucher code discounts – it will match the price. It will even refund the difference if you find a discount after you purchase an item, as long as it is within seven days.
Lots of companies don't like to shout about their price match facilities, and a little known discount is through budget airline Easyjet. If you book with airline and the price of a ticket falls before your fly, you can claim back the difference which will be refunded in vouchers to be used against future Easyjet flights.
Coupons and vouchers
Whether you're planning a family day out, a romantic dinner for two, or even a spot of solo pampering there is likely to be a discount voucher or coupon out there to help you save money.
Companies regularly offer discounts to customers and websites like Moneysavingexpert have a running list of the different codes on offer that particular week. Alternatively, you could sign up to one of the big voucher sites like Groupon or Wowcher which will email you details of deals they have.
Recent research indicates that vouchers are increasingly being used to cut the cost of everyday spending. The amount of money saved by using in-store deals and voucher codes is predicted to reach £38.5 billion by the end of the year – the equivalent to £1 in every £25 spent.
Loyalty cards and cashback sites
While it's not the done thing to haggle in supermarkets you can make your weekly shopping bill cheaper by using your loyalty card points to pay for your groceries. This applies to other high street stores that offer loyalty cards – while the return may not seem like much at the time, loyalty cards can add up to significant sums over time.
If you shop online, make sure you go through cashback websites such as Quidco and Topcashback. Instead of going straight to an online retailer you go through a link from a cashback website. You then receive your item from the retailer and money is deposited in your account on the cashback site, typically a percentage of the price paid.
Whatever you need to purchase, the chances are you will be able to get some cash back through a site, which have links to companies offering everything from bicycles to sofas.
You may not want to haggle down a salesperson in a shop or a showroom but it is worth asking if there are any nearly-new shop showroom pieces that are available at a discounted price.
Lots of large, and smaller, retailers are happy to offer pieces that have been on display or are discontinued at a discounted price. Typically there is nothing wrong with the items except the lack of packaging and discounts on high street retailers are normally between 10% and 20%.
If your local stores don't offer display models for sale, it is worth using your time in the shop to note the price and models of an item you like and check online later to see if you can get a better price.
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