Updated on 09.16.14

Using Twitter to Save Money

Trent Hamm

Perhaps my favorite online development over the last year or so has been the explosion of Twitter. For those living under a rock who have not yet heard about Twitter, it’s pretty simple: it’s like instant messaging except everyone can read conversations and join in. You sign up for a free account there and can then send messages (and respond to the messages of others) whenever you want, from your computer or even from your cell phone via text message. You can also “follow” other people who have signed up for Twitter, enabling you to see all of their messages at once. So, when you visit Twitter, you’ll see the latest updates of all of the people you’re following (i.e. the people you’re interested in).

If you’d like to take a peek, feel free to check out my own updates. I also make Simple Dollar updates available on Twitter.

Anyway, one of the hottest topics among online marketers and bloggers is how exactly someone can use Twitter effectively to gain a following and perhaps grow one’s business. Twitter is particularly interesting in this regard because it allows one person to carry on something of a conversation with a large crowd of people that want to hear what they’re saying. Take my own account, for example: if I send an update, I’m effectively talking to 2,000 people who have chosen to hear what I have to say.

Surprisingly, out of this creative explosion has come a ton of bargains. Quite a few people have jumped on Twitter as a way to provide coupons for their business in a very inexpensive way. Others have written computer programs that scour the ‘net for bargains and post them automatically to Twitter. Still others are exploring giveaways and contests.

I’ve followed quite a few Twitterers who are trying these things and I’ve found ten well worth sticking with. Even if you don’t find them worth following, you may find this post worth bookmarking so that you can check in on these accounts from time to time.

Ten People I’ve Found Worth Following for Savings

1. DellOutlet

Dell already has excellent prices on computer systems, but they’re giving out some incredible deals directly on Twitter via the DellOutlet account. There are at least two items that I’m considering buying from Dell, so I’m just waiting until they pop up with great coupons on here. If you’re considering upgrading your PC, this is one that’s well worth following.

2. amazondeals

Every day, Amazon throws up a few “lightning deals” on their site, which are simply individual items sold at a pretty stiff discount for just an hour or two. I tend to follow these pretty closely, as there are often deals on there that can be “turned” for a profit or can be given as gifts later on (several of our Christmas gifts came from this feature). Amazon has chosen to share these on Twitter, which has made it very easy for me to keep tabs on these deals.

3. AmazonSteals

This one’s similar to the above “amazondeals” account, except this one isn’t directly affiliated with Amazon and it also digs deeper into specific Amazon categories to find steeply discounted items. It actually forms a very nice pair with amazondeals for digging up great deals buried within Amazon.

4. amazonmp3

A legal mp3 album every day for $2. That’s basically what this account offers. The mix is widely varied, but I find about one album a month that’s well worth it for me (most recently, Urban Hymns by The Verve, which I listened to over and over again about twelve years ago).

5. dealyzer

This account seems to simply scavenge the web for huge discounts of all kinds. The mix is quite varied, but I find things regularly on here that are worth following up on (for example, I got the Planet Earth documentary set for my son for $34 shipped directly from Discovery because of this account).

6. shoppersshop

This is a very low traffic version of dealyzer. Outside of the pre-holiday sales, there’s only about one update a week or so, but when they come, they’re almost always well worth it. I actually found several of the other accounts listed on this page by following shopperssshop.

7. DealUniversity

Here’s another strong deal aggregator, but this one focuses almost exclusively on electronics deals. Their picks really are a mixed bag, but there are enough gems that come through to make it worthwhile if you are good at sniffing out deals on tech items.

8. cheaptweet

Cheaptweet is basically just an aggregation of the top picks from CheapTweet.com, which itself just scours Twitter for sales and other deals and allows users to vote up the best of the lot. There’s a fair amount of conversation in there, too, but when the deals come through, they’re usually good ones.

9. booksamillion

Run by the folks behind the Books-A-Million book chain, this account offers up deals on … books. Following this account is like shuffling through a good bargain table at a bookstore – you won’t be interested in most of it, but every once in a while a dirt-cheap new book will float through.

10. SmartyPig

I felt it appropriate to mention SmartyPig here, since I’ve been following them practically since their inception. SmartyPig is an online savings account with a goal-setting twist. So why mention their Twitter account? Every month, they give away a SmartyPig account with $100 in it on their Twitter feed (and their methods for determining winners is both transparent and entertaining). The traffic on here is pretty low, too – most of their Tweets are related to their monthly giveaway.

Do you know any other Twitterers that offer good deals on Twitter? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Benjamin D. says:

    I have been experimenting with Twitter ever since I read about (on here I think) a year or two ago. I have used it to help organize a golf tournament last summer providing updates with volunteers.

    I have also used it a little bit to provide updates on some environmental initiatives I have started at my job.

    Incorporting Twitter’s use into my own website is my next goal.

  2. One of my absolute favorites to follow is Freebies 4 Mom – http://twitter.com/freebies4mom. She posts lots of great freebies, coupons, sweepstakes and giveaways…. and not just for moms!

  3. Ben says:

    Twitter is great, but a very good way to save money is to just not shop so much. Using twitter to keep an eye out for good deals seems a lot like ALWAYS being shopping.

    How do you balance the constant updates and “urgency” of these “deals” with the frugal need to not buy so much stuff?

    For me, I think it’s better to just not shop at amazon all the time, or in other words, to not have real-time updates on the prices of stuff that I wasn’t shopping for before.

  4. I think this could be a good way to keep an eye out for deals on something you are already planning to buy. You just have to make sure you don’t buy to be buying.

  5. DB Cooper says:

    I generally find that the only way to truly save money is to not spend it. Spednding money is NOT saving money. You mention discounts, sales, coupons, and repeatedly use the word “deals” – but it’s all spending, it’s all cosumerism, it’s all just getting more stuff, and from what I can see, it’s mostly wants, not needs. Certainly nothing I need, anyway.

    This is what you gave up your regular job to do? Surf the web looking for deals? Hmmm…

  6. I’ve never got the hang of twitter or other social sites outside of Mypsace or Facebook. I may have to try it now that I have some things to ‘tweet.’


  7. Tom says:

    You can also get great computer deals from tiger direct. Check out the twitter account tigerdeals. http://twitter.com/tigerdeals

  8. Mule Skinner says:

    This seems to be only about opportunities for impulse purchases.

  9. Prasanna says:

    I agree with previous comments about constantly keeping up with all the latest deals happening out there. Before long you’ll accumulate a lot of “junk” that you didn’t really need at very good “prices”..

  10. Angelo says:

    I strongly recommend using dealnews.com, it is updated very often(practically hourly) and the site is extremely easy to follow and read.

  11. Anne KD says:

    Looking for deals online constantly would not be a good use of time for me. I’d rather think of something I want or a gift I want to give, find out how much it costs, and save or find money in my budget for it after waiting some time to see if I really really want it. If the thing is on sale, great! If not, I know exactly how much time/effort I needed to obtain that thing. The time/effort is what I’m paying to obtain the money to get the thing.

    Instead of looking for deals, I’d rather spend/waste my time checking my email, Facebook or Twitter to see what my friends and family are posting.

    Thanks for this post, Trent- it helped me think of simple explainable reasons why I DON’T look for deals online, or Freecycle constantly- I’m happier keeping up with social stuff more than, well, stuff.

  12. Elisabeth says:

    I thought you were a big advocate of not shopping just for something to do, because of the risk of impulse buys. A story about fancy headphones comes to mind.

    It seems a little unethical to me to suggest to people, many of whom are coming to you because they may have a hard time controlling their spending, that it’s a good idea to be bombarded by “deals” on things that they most likely don’t need.

  13. Camilo Payan says:

    I hope that it’s obvious that this is for those that are already very discriminating with their spending. As he mentioned with the music album tweets, it’s not as though you need to buy everything that passes through your twitter feed, just those things that look like they’d really bring something to the table. It’s like keeping track of woot while you’re considering a purchase of, say, a vaccuum cleaner, in case they turn up with a great deal on one.

  14. Green Panda says:

    Some of the twitter profiles look good. I like your suggestion to check them from time to time Trent. I don’t want to be tempted to impulse shop, but if I’m looking for a specific item, I’ll check out those links.

  15. !wanda says:

    This only seems worth if you are tracking the prices of individual items or you need to buy a lot of random gifts for people. (In my boyfriend’s family, everyone gives everyone else two or three items, more if it’s immediate family. Seeing how much junk everyone gets makes me want to pull my hair out.) Trent seems to need to do both.

    As an aside: I’ve been dating my bf for three years now, and last October on my birthday, his parents, who are extremely nice, sent me three small gifts. My first reaction (and my mother’s, by the way, when I told her) was, “Oh no, now I have to buy them gifts for their birthday!” It’s kind of not fair, because there are two of them and only one of me. Also, I feel bad because I feel like I, being the younger person, should have started the gift-giving, but I was going to wait until we were married (we’re not even engaged). I have been giving them gifts for Christmas these past few years, and vice versa, but birthdays seem more personal. (The gifts were all right, but that’s besides the point; I just would have felt worse if they had been very nice.) My questions are: 1. Should I have started giving them stuff on their birthdays earlier? 2. Does my mom have to give my bf something on his birthday (which comes before her birthday)? My mom was sort of panicking about this, and I assured her that we didn’t, but now I’m not sure.

  16. Wise Finish says:

    I like using RSS feeds from some of the deal sites run through a filter (such as feedrinse.com) so that I only see deals on things I am actually looking to buy. Keeps me from making a lot of impulse purchases and saves me time wading through deals on a lot of things I don’t really need…

  17. Charlie Park says:

    For what its worth, we (PearBudget) have a budgeting tip of the day we broadcast on Twitter (@pearbudget) on weekdays. If you’re on Twitter already, you might find them helpful.

  18. Sue says:

    I appreciate this list. Planned spending means I have a list of things I am “looking for,” but waiting until I can find them at a truly reduced price – these tweets can help me to not have to do the random online google search to try to find the best deals, but simply check my tweets and see if anything for those items show up and how good of a deal they are. For example, we are in need of a new laptop, but I have not bought one yet waiting for the best possible deal on the type of laptop that I need (luckily, I have access to one I can use from work temporarily).

    I think the criticisms of this post are based on the idea that if I don’t know something exists, I won’t be tempted to buy it…which is how some people have to live their consumer-lives. But, others make lists, plan spending, than look for the best deal – this post seems like a boon for those that fit that category.

    Don’t sign up for them if you don’t like the idea of getting the tweets – but don’t discourage sharing of information like this – some of us really appreciate it!


  19. jules says:

    i can’t stand twitter. most annoying thing ever…

  20. Roger says:

    I’m torn on this. On one hand, it does seem to be a reasonable why to try to save some extra money. (Assuming, of course, you would have bought the item(s) anyway.) On the other hand, the temptation to impulse buy (which I suffer from anytime I walk through a book or video store) would undoubtedly increase if I was getting regular messages about sales, many of which sound like they’re only valid for a hours, anyway.

    I think I’ll limit my twitter usage to things like the SmartyPig feed (who couldn’t use an extra hundred dollars?) and various people I’d like to stay up to date about, and leave the trolling for bargains on the sidelines.

  21. AJ says:

    “For those living under a rock who have not yet heard about Twitter” – sounds a little harsh don’t you think? Isn’t that the audience you are writing this for – those not highly knowledgeable about the product?

    By the way, yes, I have heard about Twitter and I’m not that impressed.

  22. DB Cooper says:

    I’m rather content under my rock, personally. I don’t feel the need to A) buy a bigger rock, or B) buy more stuff to put under my rock with me!

  23. Mike @ TheThriftyLife says:

    Looks like AmazonSteals has gone private and protected all of their updates. I wonder if it was a result of being listed here?

  24. Karen M says:

    Wow. Living under a rock, huh. Sounds a bit judgmental, if you ask me. Maybe I’m the cheapskate who doesn’t want to buy just to buy. I thought I was being frugal by not purchasing unnecessary items in the first place.

    One should be careful with words.

  25. Elisabeth says:

    @ Camilo Payan who says “I hope that it’s obvious that this is for those that are already very discriminating with their spending.”

    Then it probably shouldn’t be tagged under “Getting Started”.

  26. Debbie says:

    @wanda: A gift is something that you give someone because you want to give it. It does not “demand” reciprocity. It was very nice of your bf’s parents to remember your birthday. As the mother of a 22 y.o. daughter, I would say that although I might give her BF a birthday gift, I would NOT expect a gift back from him on my birthday! I am well aware that I have more money than she and her friends, and I wouldn’t expect him to spend his limited funds on me.

    As for your mom, she too can choose to “be nice” if she can afford it and if she wants to. But if she can’t afford it, or doesn’t feel as if it is appropriate, she is not obliged to keep up with your BF’s parents. I was actually in the exact same situation–my daughter’s ex-BF’s parents were very nice too. But I didn’t give him a birthday gift–I wasn’t ready to take that step. (BTW, the gifts from the parents are, I think, not just niceness, they are a way of indicating approval of the relationship.) Do what feels right to you.

  27. losvegas says:

    I find this post very oximoronic.Why would I want to spend any more money on deals? I am happy spending less.I used to be always finding deals,which put me in 15000 in cc debt.I stopped looking for deals and paid it all off with my wife’s help.We only owe on our mortgage.

  28. Jonathan says:

    Follow @gamerdeals for good video game sales.

  29. Evan says:

    Is anyone using Twitter to Tweet their thoughts and feelings each time they are tempted to buy something? I think that would be a great use of Twitter. Same approach might work for eating, too.

  30. SockSaver says:

    I for one, am living under a rock. Had no idea how twitter worked. Thought it was a “paid” service.
    Thank you, Trent, for enlightening me.

  31. Sandy says:

    Here I am, under my rock, with my 8 year old cell phone, that I have no idea whether I can even Twiter or not. Perhaps I’m missing out on a lot of good deals…oh wait, that’s right..I’m trying to be frugal and not spend any money!
    Is it me, (it probably is) who really doesn’t want everyone to know exactly where I am and what I’m doing? To me, exposing oneself online in a constant stream of online “friends” seems very strange. Why not just go have lunch with a real live human friend? Catch up that way. I guess I m so out of it!

  32. Hmmm… how about some real people to follow (i.e. not companies) for us frugalites that are looking for ways to really save money and not just spend less on stuff we probably don’t need?

    Here are just a few I follow:

    And you can find me on Twitter as @mmmeg

  33. Mister E says:

    I’m not sure if being slightly behind on whatever the latest internet “social” fad is quilifies as living under a rock.

    If it does though I’m happy to stay here, it’s a nice rock.

  34. Heidi says:

    Wow, so many negative comments. I found Trent’s post very useful.

    I use coupons when I buy groceries, I shop at Goodwill and tag sales, I use Freecycle and Craigslist, and in general I put a great deal of thought and care into how I spend my money. I track my household expenses using finance software, and my costs continue to drop every year as I figure out new tricks and strategies.

    However, I also watch on-line for deals and bargains. It’s very infrequent that I make on-line purchases, and I let the vast majority of good deals pass me by. I do, however, keep my eyes open year-round for Christmas gifts for my kids and select friends and family, as well as birthday gifts. I combine coupons with free gift cards that I get from credit card “points,” and I get really good mileage for my money.

    Perhaps most of the negative comments come from people who misunderstood the intent behind Trent’s post about following deals on Twitter. I certainly did not interpret it to be encouraging impulse spending.

    Oh, and the comment about living under a rock, I did not take that personally.

  35. Sarah Eliza says:

    I’m surprised by the number of negative comments too — I thought this was a great article! Twitter can be very fun, and I’m already on several mailing lists for these types of services — it will be nice to be able to cancel them and empty my inbox a bit.

    If people are worried about impulse spending, I’d suggest having a running list of items you actually “need” to buy or replace, or at any rate have given yourself permission to purchase because your budget allows it. Then, use these kinds of services to watch for those items, and no others. And, let yourself have a little fun. :)

    Thanks Trent!

  36. Chris @ BuildMyBudget says:

    I have to agree, every dollar you save(do not spend) is 100 pennies you keep while every dollar you work extra for is only 70-80 cents you keep. One of the easiest ways to save is just to avoid spending altogether.

  37. ThatGrrl says:

    I follow Slickdeals on Twitter.

    They have a supporting forum with additional deals on their website. They tweet the best deals of the day (usually no more than half a dozen). Very useful.

  38. Have to agree with Heidi on this. Just because you see a ton of great deals doesn’t mean you have to buy everything. Impulse control is the most important part of living a happy, financially-healthy life.

    And why do t-shirts always get short-shrift in money-saving roundups? They’re a great way to look good without breaking the bank.

    We tweet the best t-shirt deals we find every day, often saving people 20-50% off high-end affordable fashion: @Shirts_on_Sale

  39. corey says:

    Avoiding shopping and spending is the key to frugality, but….you do still need to buy things once in a while.

    I try to avoid overspending by knowing what I need and patiently waiting until I find it at the price I’m willing to pay. I check the Amazon deals everyday, and probably only buy something from them 2-3 times a year.

    Using Twitter in this way sounds like a great idea.

  40. Sandy says:

    I think this post is helpful. It was intended to offer bargain hunters another opportunity to keep aprised of good deals. I just recently started using social networking sites like facebook and twitter, and I’ve come to find that they are fun and can come in handy too. With Twitter, you can select different people that offer thoughts on different topics and sometimes they are nonsense and sometimes they are useful. If you see over time that a twitterer does not post anything that is useful, you can easily “unfollow” them, so no harm no foul. I am frugal, I watch where my money goes and I love to find a good bargain. Twitter is like a constant RSS feed and I see posts come up and sometimes it happens to be for exactly something that I could use. It’s not always a definite “need”, but if it’s for an items that I’ve already priced elsewhere and this turns out to be a great deal, then I may buy it. So I might decide, okay I’ll purchase that and forego a purchase elsewhere or forego going out to dinner or lunch during the week. Although some people say it’s easy not to spend altogether, I think saving money is all relative. For some people, they might think spending money on a vacation is completely frivolous while others will say it’s a necessity that is for someone’s well-being and state of mind (the latter is my thought, I definitely need me vacations). That’s the great thing about people, we can all have different opinions and express them.

  41. Forgot to add, @greenlasagna is another frugalite to follow. (Shame on me! I can’t believe I forgot her!).

  42. Luke says:

    I follow @couponlanding (the feed for http://www.couponlanding.com); they have some really fun and unique coupons and deals. Thanks for the ideas, Trent!

  43. Kim McGowan says:

    Try markdown alert – http://twitter.com/markdownalert – for sales and coupons for womens clothing, home decor and kids stuff. We couple sale merchandise with percentage off coupons and free shipping deals for ultimate savings on your purchases.

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