NEW YORK (MainStreet) As the holiday shopping season looms, the traditional money saving strategies of clipping coupons and finding doorbuster deals won't be enough to move the dial.
That's why it's important to become more comfortable with price matching when shopping at stores. It's not a new concept by any means, but it's easy to forget this option exists.
The art of price matching has been revolutionized by smartphone apps, including RedLaser and ShopSavvy. With these apps, you can scan the barcode of an item in a store and the app finds the retailer or online site that sells the item for the lowest price.
Armed with this information, you can approach a store clerk or even a manager and ask them to match the price of the competitor.
If you're not comfortable asking, consider this: the store wants your business, so chances are the management will go the extra mile to keep you in the store.
You may find the stores will accept looking at cheaper competitor prices on a smartphone as proof, but to be extra cautious, come to the store with printed evidence of the competitor's lower price. "The store may need a hardcopy to attach it to their paperwork as justification for matching the price for their store policy," says Jeanette Pavini, savings expert from Coupons.com.
Price matching doesn't only exist at the time of purchase. Let's say a television went on sale a few days after you made the purchase. Simply bring back the receipt to the store and ask for an adjustment, though you'll typically only have 14 days to do this.
In fact, if you see that same television on sale at a competitor store, the retailer you originally purchased it from, may also match the price if you ask and are within the time window.
As for which retailers offer friendly price matching policies, Lowe's and Home Depot top the list, since they not only match prices of competitor retailers, they go above and beyond and beat the price by 10%. Additionally, Best Buy and Target match prices from Amazon.com.
Sometimes store clerks are not familiar with the price matching policies. If they give you a hard time, ask to speak to a manager.
A final tidbit when it comes to price matching has to do with layaway, which retailers have finally started to reintroduce into their stores over the past few years. If you're on the layaway program and the price of the item starts to decline, especially from a competitor, stores, such as Walmart, may match that price. Pay close attention to the store's layaway program to see if price matching is an option.
- Written by Scott Gamm for MainStreet. Gamm is the author of MORE MONEY, PLEASE.