Interview with a Savings Expert: Kyle James

Want to obtain some super ninja shopping skills? Then, you’d better be listening to Kyle James. This money-saving expert gives consumers helpful tips on getting the very most for their money at his blog Rather Be Shopping. Read on for Kyle’s favorite frugal hack, which shopping apps he loves, and how he cracked the code for stores’ pricing systems!

Your site, Rather Be Shopping, features tons of couponing opportunities. What sets your blog apart from other couponing sites?

As y’all at CouponPal already know, there are hundreds of coupon sites floating around the web these days and distinguishing yourself can be really tough. I try to make it happen by taking a lot of pride in my customer service and offering a more personalized experience.

I want shoppers to see the coupon code box and say to themselves, “I wonder if Kyle has any coupon codes I can use?” Rather than, “I wonder if couponsXYZ has a coupon for this retailer?” I also have a “Coupon Guarantee” where I guarantee to try and help you find a coupon for ANY retailer and get back to you within 24 hours. I love hearing from folks, and when I do, I try to blow their minds and totally exceed their expectations.

Aside from coupons, your blog provides articles on everything from personal finance to frugal hacks. What has been the most popular content? And what’s your favorite frugal hack?

The stuff that really resonates with my readers are the articles that you can’t find anywhere else. So many times you find blogs that just regurgitate old ideas and add nothing new to the conversation, then the writer can’t figure out why they can’t build blog traffic. I love brainstorming unique topics and investigating solutions and new ways to make your paycheck go further each month. Nothing I love better than a comment saying, “Thanks Kyle, I had no idea I could do that to save money, I’m all over it like white on rice.”

As for my favorite frugal hack, I’d have to go back to the first one I ever wrote. Frugal Hack #1: The “Secret” Dish Network Programming Package. Did you know Dish Network has a pretty killer 60-channel package that only costs $19.99 a month? Not many people do. You actually have to call them to request it. Why in the world you would pay an arm and a leg for a bunch of channels you never watch has always been a head scratcher for me.

You also have a great social media presence on Twitter and Facebook (with over 11,000 likes). Does your interaction with readers influence the coupons you feature or the content you write?

To be totally honest, my interaction with my social media followers means that I selfishly have this totally awesome resource to draw from. Seriously, who has better ideas on saving money in everyday life than real people, living on a real budget, often with kids.

I can’t recall how many times I have posted something on Facebook and Twitter only to get some killer comment that sparks an article update or a brand new feature on Rather-Be-Shopping.com. There is no doubt that I learn more from them than I could ever teach them. So, when it comes to adding coupons, I add everything I can get my dirty little hands on, and hope that somebody, somewhere, can use something to save a little dough.

You’ve been featured in several media appearances on ABC World News, Fox News, as well as on blogs like Mint.com and Lifehacker. Are there any specific sites or sources you turn to for money-saving or couponing tips?

I really admire J. Money at BudgetsAreSexy.com who keeps it real and taught me the importance of creating my own voice. Also, I am a big fan Cameron Huddleston who writes for Kiplinger. She has a very easy to read style, and I love her money saving tips.

You mentioned in a recent blog post that you like to use Live Chat on certain retailer websites to save money. We also wrote a guest post about scoring deals while shopping on a retailer’s site. Can you tell us some of your techniques? And what’s the best deal you’ve snagged this way?

I loved researching the idea of abandoning your virtual shopping cart in order to trigger an email from the retailers with a coupon included to try and entice you back to complete your purchase. A bit passive aggressive, no doubt, but a killer way to score a coupon on a large purchase. I used it to save $250 on a new HDTV a few months back.

You’ve also written about shopping apps that you like to use. What are your 3 favorite apps that help you save money while shopping?

  • RedLaser App - I love this app! It lets me do a quick price comparison by scanning the product barcode when shopping in-store to make sure I am getting the best deal possible.

  • Rather-Be-Shopping App - Yes, this is a shameless plug, haha. Our app allows you to pull up in-store coupons that the cashier can scan directly off your smartphone. No more having to clip and remember to bring your printed coupons when shopping.

  • Checkout 51 App - I just recently started using this app and love it. Essentially it allows you to buy groceries, scan your receipt, and easily get cash back on certain items. When your account reaches $20 in savings, they mail you a check. You’re going to be buying this stuff anyways so why not get some money back? Pretty cool.

In a story for ABC News, you were quoted as having ‘cracked the code’ for stores’ pricing systems. What’s the code, and how did you figure it out? And what are some ways consumers can use this strategy to save money?

I love this one. Essentially this tip allows you to figure out what kind of a deal you are getting by looking at the cents (not the dollars) of the price. Many popular stores like Office Depot, Target, JCPenney, and Home Depot have an internal pricing system used for inventory and stocking purposes that regular consumers can use to their advantage if you know the code.

For example, at Home Depot, you want to look for products that have a yellow price tag and have a price that ends in .06 or .03. This means it is a clearance price and marked for liquidation. Huge potential savings for shoppers. So, if you are looking for a power drill for Dad for Father’s Day, go to the one with the yellow tag and has a price ending in .06 or .03. By doing so, you’ll typically pay 30-40% less than anywhere else. Most of my tips were either told to me by current employees or anonymously emailed to me by current and former managers.

You’re also a proponent of negotiating for better prices. For people that aren’t used to this tactic, what’s a good way to get started haggling?

The best way to start is to go into a store and look for a reasonable reason to actually ask for a lower price. Damaged packaging, a lower price from a competitor, or bundling several items together are a few great places to start. As you have success haggling a deal using these techniques, you can then graduate to my more, shall we say, black ninja techniques.

It’s also really interesting that you got an MBA from National University with a specialization in e-commerce. How has this focus helped your own online shopping experiences?

It was the only time I was ever in school that I could immediately use what I learned in the classroom for my career. It helped me understand how e-commerce companies work and gave me a behind-the-scenes look at tricks and tactics many companies use to try and take more of your money. I then took that info, flipped it on its head, and used it to help my fellow consumers.

Thanks for taking the time out to answer our questions! Any last pieces of advice you’d like to give our CouponPal readers?

Never pay full price for anything. Then use the money you saved for retirement or improving your situation. You’d be amazed at how much money you can save in the course of a year by doing just a little bit of research before making any significant purchase.

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with an Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #Experts to @CouponPal!

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