Shhhhh... we have a few savings secrets to share -- and they have nothing to do with coupons, daily deals or bargain bins.
There are back-door ways you can save that retailers and consumer products marketers probably don't want you to know.
DailyFinance sat down with Brad Wilson, CEO of deal-hunting site Bradsdeals.com, who offered some insider tips on how to save by outwitting the brands, stores and service providers you buy from every day.
1. Never Buy Apple Products From the Apple Store
Buying merchandise from an Apple (AAPL) store is a sure way to pay the highest price for its popular products. That's because --- other than on Black Friday --- the nation's coolest computer company never discounts at its stores. Ever.
To secure a bargain on your i-product, buy from a reputable Apple authorized resellers instead, such as MacMall.com, MacConnection.com, B&H, Buy.com, Best Buy (BBY), J&R and Abt Electronics. These retailers will offer discounts off the retail price, as well as free software and rebate offers -- something unheard of at an Apple store.
Just make sure you're buying from an Apple-authorized dealer. Any sites you see listed on BradsDeals are safe, Wilson says.
You can also save big by purchasing refurbished i-products from the Apple Refurbished Mac department. These are current or previous generation models that have been tested, refurbished and re-certified by Apple. They also carry the same one-year, extendable warranty as all Macs.
And for all you students, teachers and education staff out there, purchase a Mac product via the Mac Education Store and get an 8% price cut.
2. Fund Your Vacation By Charging Your Mortgage on a Credit Card
Skip discount travel sites like Travelocity for flight savings and instead, charge those large monthly expenses, like your mortgage payment, on your credit card, which lets you rack up miles for free flights.
"While traditional personal finance experts may advise consumers to stay clear of credit cards -- for very good reason if you abuse them -- the reality is most airlines and credit card companies offer very lucrative opportunities to bank several round trip flights for just opening and swiping the card for [even just] one purchase," Wilson says.
Take advantage of offers such as Chase's partnership with British Airways, via its Chase British Airways Visa, which, can earn you free flights on American Airline flights.
As the offer now stands, Chase (JPM) and British Airways (BAIRY.PK) will offer 50,000 miles for a card user's first purchase. Spend an additional $20,000 within the first year on your card, "and receive an additional 75,000 miles," Wilson says.
"The best part is the fact that British Airways is a partner with American Airlines and if you use the British Airways site to book your American Airlines flights, the [number of] miles required for flights is almost 50% less."
So instead of paying your mortgage or utilities from your checking account monthly, instead, "transfer payments to your credit card, and you'll quickly hit $20,000 in less than a year," Wilson advises.
But be careful: "This requires some degree of attentiveness from the consumer to pay off their balances immediately."
3. Buy From Amazon -- But Not Amazon USA
Save by taking advantage of fluctuations in international currency by cherry picking from Amazon's (AMZN) international retail sites in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and China.
"Remember that we have an entire retail platform on the world wide web, and as a result, can leverage the strength or weakness of the U.S. dollar as a result."
For example, when the U.S. dollar was stronger than the Canadian dollar, you could shop on Amazon Canada to reap the added savings of purchasing with a stronger dollar, he says.
4. Use Low Interest, Transfer-Balance Offers In Lieu of Loans
If you're having trouble qualifying for a line of credit for anything from home improvements to a car loan, consider tapping credit card banks' 0% -- or low percent -- balance transfer offers in lieu of a bank loan to fund your purchase at a zero-to-low interest rate.
But first, make sure there are no fine-print clauses for writing the check to yourself or "cash," Wilson says. If there are none, "write the check to yourself, deposit in your account and enjoy the low interest loan."
"One of the misconceptions is that by doing several of these [transactions] you will dramatically impact your credit score. I've not found this to be the case, assuming you pay each on time, and better yet, keep $0 balances if at all possible," he says.
"I was able to finance my business by doing this type of deal with ten cards at the same time."
5. Unload Unwanted Gift Cards on Resale Sites
Gift cards are a popular present these days, but they can often come from stores you might not shop. Resell them on sites like PlasticJungle.com and CouponTrade.com. PlasticJungle, for one, will pay up to 92% of your gift card's worth.
So say you have a $100 gift card to Home Depot, "but you are a loyal Lowe's shopper, and would never use it," Wilson says. "You can go on sites like CouponTrade or PlasticJungle and sell your gift card for $90, and those purchasing the card see an automatic $10 profit, [while] the original cardholder still has $90 cash for a card they had no intention of using."