Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe to my articles. I'll update you with lots of fun and often free adventures in your home town.
Published May 2nd 2018
It's a buyer's market. Competition is rife and you can save significant amounts of money on the purchases you make, whether they be food, pharmaceutical items, technology, experiences or travel. Here are some suggestions.
Most of us do a certain percentage of our shopping online, even if it is just groceries, eBay purchases or booking flights and hotels.
There are some lurks and perks to this if we also join one of the sites that give us a certain percentage of money back on such purchases.
The one I use is Cash Rewards. I have been a bit loathe to write about this in case there were any catches. But I have now been using it for six months and have just organised Cash Rewards to put $120 dollars into my account. In my case, I can say therefore that the system actually works to my advantage.
Cash Rewards is a simple extension you can add to your browser (I use Chrome). When I am shopping online, it will usually pop up and remind me that I can get a percentage back on my purchases.
To give you some examples of the online shopping venues it covers, Apple Computers is on there as is Australian Geographic, Accor hotels, Amcal, Ancestory.com, Aveda, Bonds Outlet, Billabong, BWS, Ben Sherman, Country Road Outlet, Dymocks, David Jones, iTunes, Jurlique, Priceline, T2 Tea and so on. But this is just a smidge of the online shops.
So, for example, I booked a hotel for two weeks on a forthcoming holiday. I did initially go straight to the hotel to ask them for their best price. The cost I received back wasn't too bad but in going to Hotel.com, I found it was slightly cheaper for the same thing. I could also pay in Australian dollars rather than the hotel slugging me on their hotel exchange rate.
I received $47 dollars back on my purchase through Cash Rewards. And that is just one example of how to use this site. I have also received money back on purchases from Woolworth, Etsy and Virgin Flights. One small catch is that with some purchases you have to wait about 60 days before the supplier verifies the discount. But I have found it does come through, so it is kind of set and forget. Make the e-purchase, which you would have made anyway and then twice a year or so transfer the percentage you received back into your PayPal or bank account.
One of the purchases you can make on Cash Rewards is for Woolworths cash cards. For every $100 card, you receive 5% off or in other words, you are spending $95 in order to spend $100 worth of money in store.
The possible catch is that you have to pay for the postage (5 dollars or so), which means that in order to make it worth your while then you have to buy a few of them at a time.
But it is nice to know that if you shop at Woolworths and related outlets anyway that when you are doing your weekly grocery shopping, buying alcohol at BWS, or buying petrol at affiliated petrol stations then you are receiving 5% off your purchases.
Liven App - Eating out on the Cheap
When you eat out, Liven gives you roughly 25% back on your bill. You pay on their app and then the 25% is stored as Liven dollars on your phone and comes off the next meal you purchase through the app.
From Liven Twitter account-https://twitter.com/LivenAustralia
I find it great for keeping the cost of my coffee habit down and also good for trying new restaurants. Basically, you click on the app and it gives it gives you a list of the closest places to you, whether you are a home or outs somewhere. There are even directions on how to get to each place from your present location.
Where Liven really comes into its own is if you are paying for a large group. The credit you get back is going to get you a large sum of Liven dollars off your future purchases. Think 25% back off $200 for example
Another advantage is that you can donate a percentage of your Liven cash to charity.
I have found that generally, the quality of the restaurants or cafes is excellent and that these venues sign up with Liven simply to get the word out about their businesses or with established restaurants in order to increase their traffic.
For how to get the app and a review of my experience using it, click here.
This is a daily email that you can sign up for. It can be a bit hit and miss (in other words, perhaps twice a month there is something that might be of use to you, depending on your interests). But I love doing a quick scan of the email once a day. If I am in procrastinating mode, I will also read some of the subscribers' comments, which can be hilarious. I picture other people procrastinating at work who must be putting their two cents worth of banter onto the site. Humour sparks more humour with regular users trying to top the last comment.
Image Ozbargain Facebook
These same people tend to be putting up deals when they see them. So it has a strong human element to it.
It is great for free stuff. You are likely to learn about when a store is doing a promotion on free coffee, or scoops of ice-cream or whatever the freebie is. Or it can be things such as free travel on a Sydney ferry's new route or a day when there are no road tolls on certain tunnels.
Ozbargain Facebook. 'OzBargain is Australia's bargain hunting community, where hot deals, coupon codes, vouchers, special promotions and freebies are shared everyday.'
Other times it is when there is are significant discounts. For example, I wanted a pair of Apple Airpods but was reluctant to pay the hefty $200 price tag. Then one day I saw that an Ozbargain scout had listed that Bing Lee had an online sale of 25% off.
For example, with the Airpods I happened to be at a shopping centre and walked into JB Hi-fi on the off chance that they would match the price. They certainly did and while they were a bit surprised at the low price I had been able to find online, they matched the $175 price that I was able to show them using the browser on my smartphone.
Buying them in a store also saved me the money I would have had to pay Bing Lee for postage.
On another occasion, I found a $390 dollar return fare to Bali from Melbourne (when you see those really cheap deals they are often from Perth) online but was having trouble with the booking site. I emailed Student Travel (which is part of the Flight Centre Group) to ask whether they priced matched and they do. They booked the flight for me, which was a bonus.
I did have to go in there within 24 hours to secure the cheap price. Going in was partly to avoid their credit card surcharges. This way I was able to pay in cash.
Some stores that I believe price match include Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi, Jetstar, hotel.com, Expedia, Emirates (will refund the difference if you book with them), Dan Murphy (competing store must be within 10 km). Dick Smith, Good Guys, Flight Centre and Chemist Warehouse.
The terrain, however, is tricky and ever-changing, so when doing your research on your purchases, check on individual sites to check for exclusions and conditions. But the important point here is that it is quite likely that you have a cheaper or comparable option and research costs you nothing except time and there is always the thrill of the chase.
Airfares are a minefield but if you tread warily, then there are some great deals out there. These often come out about 60 days before your intended time of flying (on local flights) and become increasingly more expensive if you leave booking flights to the last minute. I find it is worth subscribing to the following sites.
Skyscanner, which alerts you to when the cost of a flight comes down.
One can buy a paid subscription to this site, but so far I have only used the free version but they email you particularly good deals when they come across them.
You can also use the price comparison sites such as Webjet, Kayak and Zuji. Once you find a good deal, you might find that you can also book it directly through the airline's website.
Cheap airlines are a minefield because in order to secure the great price, you need to avoid all extras such as luggage, meals and entertainment. Read about my issues and those of others (both the good and bad) of travelling with Tigerair click here.
Holidays and Accommodation
Here is how to price match hotels and get discounts if you find a better price elsewhere - click here.
A good aggregate site for finding cheap packages is AlltheDeals as it saves having lots of inbox subscriptions from the daily deal sites. I mainly use it to keep an eye out for cheap getaways. There are often reasons why these are cheap.
This is a photo of Aquabella Apartments in Rye which were luxurious and available at that time on a deal site
For example, it might be popular summer venues offering winter deals (but its still a wonderful chance to stay at a great place) or trying the venue is trying to plug up gaps when they are not fully booked such as mid-week. Incentives, as well as cheap prices, will often include a bottle of wine, local vouchers and even meals.