I was just back from my recent trip to Hawaii and for as long as I know, Hawaii was deem and is really a pretty expensive place.
I experienced first hand that per meal in Wakiki could only go as little as 9USD and seriously no upper limit. If you are adventurous enough to go out to the real Hawaiian neighbourhood, you may find a delicious hearty Hawaiian meal good for 2 for about USD12 plus tip.
However, this post is not about the food in Hawaii but a money saving tip that you can take with you when you are at Hawaii, or any state in the USA.
Hawaii is still a state of USA and if you are follower of cable TV you would come to know a show called Extreme couponing.
Couponing is very common phenomenon anywhere in United States and it is literally some citizens’ bread and butter of their livelihood so they can spend as little as possible.
If you are unaware, the standard of living in USA is actually lower than Singapore, however, even though everything already seems cheaper, I still wanna save more money so to maximise per trip expenditure!
For a starter, couponing can be a little confusing for travelers probably because of a few reasons:
1. Where to find those coupons
2. How to use those coupons
3. You may not know where exactly you will be heading during the trip
4. You may not know if the destination you are heading in USA has that store
5. You may not go to all the shopping places you may want to go
However, once you know where to search for them and how to use them, it is a breeze and you often can pick up more offers than a regular shopping trip. It is good to start researching for coupons early before you fly because you will need to print them out to carry with you.
There are many ways to look, download and print coupons.
Let me share some simple ways for you to start accumulate those savings before you fly.
1. Shopping Mall Websites
Major shopping malls in the states always have a dedicated website.
These dedicated websites usually have a section for you to print coupons. However, there are some websites that sends you coupons via emails.
The best examples would be the Premium Outlet malls website.
By signing up as a VIP, you get to select the mall you will be heading and download those coupons.
While tour buses to the outlet may also provide you with a coupon booklet, the savings you get from the online website are much better.
For example, I did a simple comparison on my recent outlet trip.
While outlet prices is already a fraction of what the actual retail prices are, but smart shoppers knows where to get more savings.
The lower left is a booklet of coupons given by the tour bus company for Waikele Premium Outlets upon arriving.
Comparing to the ones I have printed through the website by registering for a VIP account, I get 5% more discounts compared to those who did not have. On a purchase of USD100, that’s USD5 more savings.
Big malls like Macy’s gives international (and domestic!) visitors a 10% discount card to enjoy when shopping at Macy’s. The card in my opinion sort of offsets the sales tax (especially true in New York). However, since it comes with a 3 month validity; it works even in Macy’s in a different state.
You can go to http://www.visitmacysusa.com/visitor-savings-pass to download the savings pass for international visitors to redeem your card when you go to Macy’s.
Now the magic thing happens: In the state where my Aunt lives, they do not exercise sales tax on apparels. So when I shop at Macy’s in that state, not only I do not need to pay for the sales tax, I still get the 10% discount. So compared to New York where there is a 11% tax, that equates to a savings of 21% discount. Now, that is a bonus!
2. Blogs and Community websites
There are blogs that updates with the latest coupons they can find from the seller/brand or some third party websites. These blogs may be a good source, however do note that consolidate all types of coupons, both for online purchases and retail store purchases.
These blogs usually have more online website coupon codes as the locals themselves shops more via online shipping as some places may not have a store nearby.
On another note, there are blogs which are much more dedicated, or rather with a focused theme.
For example, mousesavers.com is a website dedicated to everything and anything Disney on a budget.
3. Local travel guides and newsletters
Local travel guides and newsletters are usually available at the lobby of the hotel you are staying. These guides are free and pack full of information to help you plan your holiday if you have not done so.
These guides are also usually pack full of advertisements.
Read the advertisements carefully!
Sometimes, there are discounts and good deals spelt obviously on the advertisements but because you have close our eyes on such advertisements, you miss out a good deals.
These guides also pack full with coupons for freebies, like how I had detached a coupon from the BEST of Oahu guide and got a keychain freebie on board the Atlantis submarine.
4. Local Newspapers
Based on my experience at my Aunt’s place, she loves to cut coupons from newspaper for daily essentials. Newspaper coupons are majority supermarket coupons, so if you are renting a place for awhile and want some groceries, the newspaper is a good source.
5. On the receipts
Some places gives you a “return visit discount”. So if you return to the same outlet again, you will get a discount or a freebie.
In Honolulu, Starbucks give you a refresher drink at $2 plus tax when you bring back the receipt to the same store in the afternoon after you have bought a coffee for the morning.
This is very helpful when you need that one cold drink to chill down the Hawaiian heat in the afternoon.
Now there you are, some of the places I will look out for great saving coupons! Whatever I mentioned above are not just Hawaii specific, it can be related in every state in USA.
Do also note that some coupons have expiry date, so do keep your eye out for them.
Hope you find these information useful!
If you have tried out couponing or intending to try out after you have read this, please drop me a comment and let me know your experience with couponing and how well you have scored!
And if you have discovered some other ways to find coupons (other than buying from ebay, cause I don’t find those effective) let me know, so I can try it myself and share my experience.
More stories soon!