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My wife and I have moved around the country over the years, so we’ve fixed up a lot of homes, when moving in and in preparation for sale. That has involved spending thousands of dollars at Home Depot.
Naturally we had to learn a few tricks to save money on our purchases, which I’ll share below. And, while Home Depot is the focus of this article, many of the strategies here can be used at Lowe’s and other home improvement stores as well.
For example, on a recent water heater purchase we saved over $200 with a nifty trick you’ll find below. But let’s start the list with an even easier strategy…
1. Use a 5% Cash-Back Credit Card
Watch for “home improvement stores” to show up on the Discover 5% Cash Back Calendar. If you reach the $1,500 limit for that quarter at Home Depot and other home improvement stores you’ll get a total of $75 cash back.
If you don’t spend much on home improvement products and the end of the quarter is coming, use my backup strategy. I go to the gift card rack in Home Depot and buy gas station gift cards to effectively get 5% off gasoline in the months to come (any purchases in the store earn the 5% cash-back).
The Chase Freedom card also has home improvement stores as a 5% bonus category from time to time. A few other cards offer 3% cash back either as a promotion or when you choose “home improvement stores” as part of your initial bonus category selections.
2. Look For Flawed Items
Find imperfections in items you buy and ask for a discount. I’ve negotiated discounts for damaged goods several times at Home Depot.
For example, I recently got 20% off a screen door for an almost-invisible dent at the bottom. Yes I looked for that dent. To save money look for damage that doesn’t affect function and doesn’t look too bad.
Employees at Home Depot have the authority to offer discounts on the spot, and if they’re not sure (or if they’ve exceeded their authorized amount for the day), a supervisor can make the decision. But you have to ask.
3. Arrange For Delivery and Installation Separately
Sometimes Home Depot has a great price on an item, but they charge too much for delivery and/or installation. To save money arrange for those separately. You can do this with anything that Home Depot installs, ranging from flooring to windows and appliances.
For example, we bought a water heater from Home Depot, but delivery and installation charges seemed high, so we called a plumber.
He picked up the water heater at Home Depot (we had to pay first and give him the order number) and installed it, saving us more than $200 versus the store’s installation quote.
4. Use A Cash-Back Portal
Use a cash-back portal to save money when shopping at Home Depot online. For example, TopCashback pays you 8% back on purchases when you go through their portal. See our post on cash back portals for more options.
5. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Buy discounted Home Depot gift cards online to save money. The discount varies, and is only around 2% at CardCash at the moment, but that might still be worthwhile if you’re making a large purchase. Watch for sales on Gift Card Mall too (all new cards).
6. Buy Home Depot Coupons On eBay
Home Depot coupons are regularly sold on eBay. For example, currently there’s a 10%-off coupon for $26. That’s a lot to pay for a coupon, but if you’re buying a $1,500 refrigerator it would save you $124 after the cost of the coupon ($150 minus $26).
But read the fine print; the maximum savings allowed on that coupon is $200.
7. Earn Fuel Rewards
If you shop for your business, get a Home Depot commercial credit card, and then sign up for fuel rewards. Use your card at Home Depot and, for every $100 you spend, you’ll get at least 10 cents per gallon off your next fill-up (up to 20 gallons) at participating gas stations (mostly Shell stations).
8. Check Out The Deal Of The Day
The Home Depot Savings Center has details on various sales and promotions, including the “Deal of the Day.” Whatever the deal is that day, the item will be deeply discounted and you’ll get free shipping.
9. Use The Home Depot Rebate Finder
The Home Depot Rebate Center helps you locate and apply for manufacturer rebates on hundreds of products. You can use is after a purchase to save money, but you may save more by searching for rebates before you buy, so you’ll know which item has the lowest total cost.
Home Depot even has a rebate submission page to guide you through the process of getting your rebate.
10. Check For Overstock Deals
Before you pay full price for anything, check the Home Depot Overstock page to see if you can find what you need there. You’ll find discounts of 50% or more, and most items can be shipped for free to your local store for pickup.
11. Buy Appliances During the Labor Day Sale
One of the best times to buy large appliances at Home Depot is during their Labor Day sale. In addition to discounting everything from stoves to washing machines up to 40% off, they usually offer free delivery as well.
12. Get a Price Match
During their most recent Labor Day sale, my wife and I looked at refrigerators at Home Depot. The one we wanted was on sale for $80 less at Lowe’s, and the salesman didn’t hesitate to match the price (in the end we went to Lowe’s because they had the fridge in stock and could deliver sooner).
Even better, you might get an additional 10% off. The Home Depot Low Price Guarantee policy states, “If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, we will match the price and beat it by 10%. Just bring the ad, printout or photo with you to the register for validation.”
13. Shop Black Friday
I can’t say whether I’ve actually saved money shopping Home Depot’s Black Friday sales. The things they put out are so enticing and priced so low that I may have spent more than I would have otherwise.
But if you know what you need and have some self discipline, this is one of the best times to get small tools and gadgets at Home Depot.
14. Buy After-Holiday Specials
After the holidays, near the contractors checkout lanes, there are often leftover holiday specials that are discounted by up to 80%. Tools are a common find.
15. Shop During “Spring Black Friday”
Home Depot has been doing a “Spring Black Friday” for a couple years now, and it looks like they’ll continue to do so. It’s a great time to find low prices on home and garden items.
16. Buy Lumber Scraps
If you have small projects that require lumber, look for the marked-down pieces at Home Depot. These are leftovers from cut-to-length pieces bought by previous customers or pieces damaged at one end.
You can find these both indoors and outdoor depending on the layout of your local Home Depot. Discounts of up to 75% are common.
17. Buy Paint Mistakes
If you need to paint something around the house and you’re not sure what color you need (or if it doesn’t matter), ask the paint department people about discounted premixed paints.
These are paints that were never picked up, or orders that were mixed wrong. Either way, you can see the color you’re getting, and they’re usually discounted substantially.
18 . Buy Paint on Certain Holiday Weekends
Home Depot Typically puts paint on sale on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day Weekend. You can expect to save about $5 per gallon.
19. Join The Garden Club
Sign up for the Home Depot Garden Club and you’ll get $5 off your next purchase of $50 or more. You’ll also get occasional promotional offers and discount coupons that can save you even more money.
20. Return Your Leftovers
Home Depot is easy about returns, as you can see from their return policy page. Where this can really save you money is on projects where you buy too many materials.
For example, if you buy 120 pavers for that new patio area, and it turns out you only need 108, you can bring back the other 12 for a refund with no problem.
21. Get A Military Discount
The Military Wallet says Home Depot offers active military members a 10% discount all of the time, and veterans can get the discount on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Home Depot says this discount is only for in-store items, not for online orders.
22. Attend A Free Workshop
Free Workshops at Home Depot are a great (and inexpensive) way to learn new skills, so you can do repairs and renovations yourself and save. By attending you might also get coupons for the materials you’ll need for a project.
23. Rent Instead Of Buying
If you need a tool just for one specific project it is usually much cheaper to rent it instead of buying it. For example, if you need a pressure washer to clean a deck, you can rent one at most Home Depot stores.
Home Depot rental items vary by store, but include generators, lawn tools, demolition tools, and even trucks starting at $19 for 75 minutes.
24. Go To The Pro Desk For Large Orders
If you’re going to spend more than $2,500, go to the Pro Desk to get a 10% to 20% discount on your purchase. The pro desk is meant for contractors, but Home Depot doesn’t usually ask for credentials. If they do, have a contractor friend go with you.
25. Use The Price Codes
According to many sources, when a Home Depot item has a clearance price tag ending in .06 the item will have one more price drop, so you might want to risk waiting for an even better deal. When you see a price ending in .03 the item is at its lowest price before being removed from the shelves.
26. Return Dead Plants Up To A Year Later
Straight from the Home Depot return policy page: “Perennials, trees and shrubs have a 1 year guarantee.” So if a few of those bushes bordering your yard are dead or dying, and you bought them at Home Depot within the last year, go get a refund!
27. Ask For A Discount On Floor Models
Sometimes you can get a discount on floor models at Home Depot, especially if the model is being discontinued. Ask any employee (who might then ask a manager).
It’s best to try at the end of the prime sales season, like at the end of summer for grills, for example, or the end of winter for snowblowers. Aim to get at least 10% to 20% off, and check for any serious damage (floor models do get handled a lot in the store).
28. Find Coupons On RetailMeNot
Before you shop at Home Depot online or in the store, check for coupons on RetailMeNot. Often they have only links to store promotions (which you could find without their help), but sometimes you’ll find a coupon code for online purchases or a printable coupon for in-store use.
29. Sign Up For Emails and Text Messages
Sign up to receive Home Depot emails and text messages and you’ll get a $5 coupon sent to you right away. Then you’ll get special offers sent to you occasionally (the fine print says you’ll get “up to 10 text messages per month.”
30. Get A Home Depot Credit Card
A Home Depot credit card will get you special financing on some purchases, and discounts on various product categories. Plus, at the moment, the sign-up offer includes $100 cash back on a purchase of $1,000 or more.
31. Check Your Amex Offers
If you have an American Express card, check your Amex Offers. They sometimes include 10% cash-back at Home Depot.
32. Become a Pro Xtra Member
The Home Depot Pro Xtra program is meant for contractors and other professionals, but you can sign up without credentials (use your own name for the company name). Members get volume discounts and other perks.
The program will save you money only if you buy a lot of stuff. For example, you get reduced pricing on orders of $1,500 or more, and discount of 10% on paint orders of $2,000 or more (20% off on orders of $7,500 or more).
Go For Extreme Savings By Combining Strategies
To save even more money at Home Depot try to “stack” your savings strategies, which means using as many of the above strategies as possible on the same purchase.
For example, let’s say you need a new washing machine. The savings strategies you might use are highlighted here:
You could go through a cash-back portal to save money buying discounted gift cards using your best cash-back credit card. Then you could find or buy a 10%-off coupon, shop during the Labor Day sale, and find a washing machine with a dent in the bottom (where it will be unnoticed) so you can ask for an additional discount for the damage. Then you’ll use the coupon and pay with the gift cards, of course.
That’s six savings strategies stacked up on one purchase. Using that many strategies at once isn’t easy, but even if you can just get a damaged-goods discount off a sale-priced item (a simple “two-stack”), you might save up to 30% or more on just about anything you can find at Home Depot.
If you know more ways to save at Home Depot, please share them with us below … and keep on frugaling!