I talked to Laura Rowley, author of “Money and Happiness” about three economic trends she is seeing. “The idea is that people are coupon clipping weary,” she said. “We focused more on getting value from everyday things and put together a series of tips on how to do that in a really easy way.”
1. “Female” versions of products are often more expensive. Consumer Reports did a study and found that products with his/her versions, like shaving cream, deodorant, and razors, perform the same but cost $1-2 more for the version targeting women, Laura said. All that pink packaging is cute, but not worth an extra dime.
2. A coupon toolbar saves time. Research shows more people do at least two online searches before they buy. First to find the product and then to find coupons for the product. Laura likes the coupon toolbar at Dealio.com, which automatically finds coupons when you search for products on Yahoo, Bing, or Google. Having a toolbar helps you get more value out of a single search.
3. Certain debit cards earn cash rebates. Laura says she earns 3-4 percent on the account tied to her debit card. To earn this high interest rate, you generally have to do five things. One, swipe your debit card 10-12 times a month. Two, set up direct deposit into the account. Three, use the bank’s online banking program. Four, get statements by email not snail mail. Five, bank locally. You aren’t going to see any of the major banks offering this perk.
But do the benefits of using a high-interest debit card surpass credit card perks? “Totally,” Laura said. “It’s way better to get 3-4 percent interest than credit rewards.” What about not building your credit history by using a debit card? “The people with the best credit scores only use 8-10 percent of their credit capacity every month. By using a debit card 10 times, you are getting the best of both worlds.”
Still interested? Go to CheckingFinder.com, plug in your zip code to find a local bank, and compare offers. The banks can afford to give you this interest rate because they are making money on the interchange fee. Every time you swipe your debit card, retailers pay about 2 percent of the sale, Laura said.
This deal works best for people who are comfortable banking online. Laura recommends using a high-interest debit card for small purchases between $10-$50 and a credit card for bigger charges. She makes the most of this deal by transferring 3-4 months of savings into her high-interest account. But only do this if you can stop yourself from spending your savings!
I just checked for my zip code and one bank is offering 4.09 percent interest on balances up to $25,000. That’s a far cry from the 1.25 percent interest rate ING Direct is offering for a 18-month CD.