It used to be that frugality was a personality trait, sometimes much maligned, and looked down upon, better described as an unfortunate quirk. Listing as a worthwhile maxim was a shade above the derogatory, and tended toward characterization as a good. But, that’s all history now. In the depths of our current version of a great depression, frugality has become a necessity, even fashionable attire. The only way to get along in a new world in which wages are static, or lowering, while prices continue to rise, is to seek out bargains and discounts at all events, everywhere.
But, where is everywhere? Well, increasingly, “everywhere” becomes the world wide web. So, it will be my endeavor, herein, to provide you with a significant number of “bargain” and “discount” sites from across the web. Of course, my field is limited, since I could never, possibly, comb the entirety of the internet, as one person; but, I have had some help here, and I intend to provide as fulsome a review of discount and bargain sites, across several categories, as I can–let’s call it a start. Now, I have labeled these, in my title, discount websites “for attorneys”, and I have attempted to select websites offering discounts on products and services that are useful to attorneys. But, in point of fact, these websites are useful for all businesspersons, and, any persons, in fact, my love for “quotemarks”, this time around, notwithstanding.
But, as a solo or small firm attorney, in particular, with so many technology and business office supply needs, you must seek out, to find every available discount and price reduction that you can. (Do be careful, though, not to sacrifice quality. The goal here is to buy good stuff at a discount, not to buy cheap crap. You buy cheap, you buy twice.) In this economy, it is an extremely difficult endeavor to start a small business, especially to start a small law office, given all of the ethical and other special requirements bundled up within the establishment of the latter. But, smart attorneys will look for reduced rates whenever and wherever they can, because it is hard enough to start a law office as it is, and it’s only harder when you’re paying top shelf pricing at every instance.
Without further ado, then, let’s hit these categories running:
General Discounts. Let’s use the inverted pyramid method here, and start with the widest category of discounts, that being general product discounts, or general discounts. Ben’s Bargains provides lots of primary searching options (types of deals, merchants, product categories, etc.) and even has a forums page, allowing for a bit of interactivity, and something like a viral vibe. The aptly-named Buy.com adds to the dealmania product news and reviews, offers the companion site BuyTV.com and has inexplicably hired noted germophobe Howie Mandel as pitchman, which I think counts as a blackmark, until I remember the genius that lay behind Bobby’s World. Dealighted.com provides forums, as well, a nifty price comparison tool and a “fresh deals” drop at the bottom of the homepage, which scrolls the newest deals added to the website. In addition to the previously mentioned sites, whereat you buy discounted products directly, there are also a couple of cool sites where you can print coupons or gain coupon codes, for check out from various stores or their websites. Try, for example, RetailMeNot.com and DealCoupon.com. In a similar coupon-y sort of vein, if you hate to pay for shipping, try FreeShippingOn.com, and never pay for shipping again. (That’s right, Shipping! How you like us now!! That’s what I thought.) Everybody knows about EBay.com: bidding for products and services posted by selling users as against purchasing users. Consider EBay a sort of sneaky way to get prices slashed on products you’d otherwise buy at full price, or at a lesser discount. Let me explain: in many cases, it’s much cheaper to buy a CD on EBay and burn it to your iTunes library than buying that album directly from iTunes or from a record store, if those still exist. And, if your tastes run to the obscure, as mine often do, you may pay less for an album on EBay than you would pay to buy a song or two from that album on iTunes. (Now I sort of feel like I’m giving away all my secrets; but, I guess I can’t stop now. I’m locked in . . . After all, we’ve only just begun.) Finally, with respect to these general discounts, note that you will (likely only for a limited time) be able to take advantage of Bill Gates’ generosity through Microsoft’s Cashback program by using Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine challenge to Google. Shopping through Bing will get you 1% to 5% off on specified purchases for as long as Microsoft continues to feel the need to bribe you to use Bing, over Google. (For more on Bing versus Google check out David Pogue’s excellent article on the topic in the New York Times and Bing versus Google: The Website, for a cool side-by-side comparison, and useful, new research technique.)
Technology. Thomas Edison had made certain that life in 2009 begins and ends with electrical cords. Gadgets for business and pleasure are all aimed after speed: increases in efficiency, meaning. Of course, all of this technology costs money (mostly because everybody really, really wants it, and thinks that they need it), and the question is how to get it cheaply. For mostly hardware, and some software, try CTIStore.com, which we frequently talk up here on the LOMAP side of town, especially so as the host of the perpetual Fujitsu ScanSnap discount. NewEgg.com, which could become a little bit like DeviledEgg.com if you don’t well control your technology shopping bug), provides hardware discounts, and nifty above-the-fold features, like the current “Shell Shocker”, and “What’s Crackin'”, like you’re talking to Little John or something. Geeks.com, short for ComputerGeeks.com, presents discounts on systems, hardware and software. They’re currently rocking a t
hirteenth anniversary sale. So, be there, or be square. For technology and office accessories, your discount source is Meritline.com, which features top products at reduced rates appearing on the stage of a non-nonsense interface. I mean, can you really say you’re getting the most out of your iPhone, if you can’t listen to your downloaded music in any car or spaceship in which you travel?
Business Printing. For your business printing needs, try VistaPrint.com, which offers free and premium (read: you gots to pay) business printing services. In addition to standard print service, VistaPrint also provides signage, creative and marketing services and business accessories. Foffi.com offers discount business card and other business printing. Foffi also provides web and graphic design services and marketing pieces as well as custom-made websites. There is some debate over which website is the cheaper one, but the answer to the question depends upon what you want to do and how you want to accomplish it. Price it out yourself, and see for yourself.
Design Projects. To connect directly with graphic designers, to pitch and price your graphic design project, try 99Designs.com or CrowdSpring.com. By establishing the price for your project, you’ll know exactly what you will end up paying for in the end. Plus, both sites give you full intellectual property rights in the final design.
Telephony. Kall8.com provides toll-free telephone service (800 and other such numbers) at a nominal monthly fee, with pay-as-you-go options for any minutes used. Kall8 combines traditional toll-free telephone service with online and online management features, and tracking tools. If you have too many phones ringing in too many places, take advantage of the free (for national calls) Google Voice service, which is the offspring of the former Grand Central service. Google Voice does more than just route numbers, however, as exhibited by an extensive list of features. For another option for free nationwide and inexpensive international calls, try the popular Skype.com, which also uses VoIP technology and available video features.
Travel. And, no, you shouldn’t pay the freight when you have to travel, either. For shorter trips, try Zipcar, for car sharing, representing an alternative to traditional rental car agreements. Zipcar’ll also cover your gas, and tolls, too; it’s all included. (Often, there’s even an available iPod jack, as well.) For general travel deals try Orbitz.com (with price assurance and hovercraftiness), Hotwire.com and Expedia.com. These websites are, of course, pretty well known. For my money, though–keeping it in my pocket, that is, there are three surefire discount travel websites that my wife and I use (in combination) every time we travel. Captain James Tiberius Kirk has finally convinced me: not really negotiating, but naming your price, at Priceline.com, and seeing whether it takes, is a great way to get deep travel discounts, especially as you can categorize for classes (number of “stars” given) for services. Kayak.com, in addition to being an inexpensive way to travel in its own right, allows you to search the Kayak site for travel deals directly, or to use the Kayak site to aggregate results from Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, Airfare.com and Travelocity.com, so that you can sift for the best deal across no less than six platforms. When you decide where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, the next step is making sure that you don’t get ripped off once you are there. The best way to assure that you are getting the most for your travel dollar, once you are traveling, is to see what those who have gone before you have to say. Visit TripAdvisor.com to get first hand accounts of trips past. TripAdvisor very rarely steers one wrong. I swear by it, never at it. Using these websites, my wife and I just booked an 8-day trip to Maui; and, no, I didn’t think I could afford it, either . . . I mean, these websites are great for business travel. Remember, too, to try your AAA discount for hotels, airfare and rentals. It’s likely the steepest, further discount available to you. I am always surprised by the fact that I very rarely do better than my AAA discount. All that, and they come find me when I run out of gas, too.
Health Insurance. The Massachusetts requirement is that all residents must have health insurance, or experience further unpleasantness upon taxing time; but, this is no magic wand waved. There are still many residents who cannot afford health insurance, as well as many business owners who cannot afford to pay for health insurance for their employees. The commonwealth intends to provide aid for both qualified employers and employees through its Insurance Partnership, an initiative to make health insurance more affordable for residents and resident businesses.
Member Benefits. Remember, finally, that membership has it privileges, even if you might have misplaced your Members Only jacket. You likely still belong to a bar association, or two or more. In addition to all of the value that a bar association membership carries with it (networking, CLE, leadership opportunities), all bar associations invariably try to draw members with packages of member benefits, that represent discounts on products and services across a spectrum of the useful for attorneys. Locally, check out the member benefits available through the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association as well as through other local bar associations. Nationally, the American Bar Association makes available to its members a prodigious collection of speci
alty, discounted resources. Take advantage of everything that your bar association membership offers you. I bet that, in your review of the member benefits pages linked above, you will find a number of available benefits of which you were not yet aware.
. . .
I’m pretty proud, I must say, of keeping this one fairly short, what with all the information to be covered . . . Nah, just kidding. I know that I’m not your typical blogger (is this “macroblogging”?), and that I don’t really care about word counts. But, I defy you to tell me that you do not at least get your bang for your buck stopping here! In any event, there are far more online discounts and discount websites for attorneys and for the general public than I can ever hope to cover in this small sampling. For my part, I am sort of feeling like I am marking twain against this vast globe wide web, as innocent abroad.
Fortunately, I am not alone. Three gentlemen deserve a writing credit here, for the vast respective quantities of information they sent along in contribution to this post. Attorney Gabriel Cheong of Infinity Law Group (yes–the same Gabriel Cheong who just released his new prenuptial agreements website) and Attorney James Baron, through various emailed lists, provided me with most of the websites listed in this post. Thank you both very much, I am exceeding grateful. Once again, as well, I must also thank LOMAP Summer Intern Michael Pirrello for his research assistance.
I guess one lesson that we can take from all of this is that lawyers are cheap, but they can always be cheaper.