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Save money while you shop

part 3

1. Buy online
Many online companies offer great deals and, in some cases, free shipping. Since the internet is such a competitive market, you can usually find some fantastic deals. Plus, many of your favorite in-person businesses have websites that offer even bigger savings. Bookstores like Amazon.com will sell books for up to 70% off the original price.

2. Consignment stores
Instead of throwing out or selling gently used clothing or other household items at a garage sale, consider selling them through a consignment store. You will get a better price for your items and consignment stores are always looking for quality products. Visit Half.com, which is an online consignment store that offers books, movies, computer software and much more in either new or used condition.

3. Take a close look at the clearance shelves!
Always head straight to the clearance rack where you can find amazing deals. Sometimes you may have to dig a bit to find the right item, but the savings will be worth it. Most clearance racks offer variety, current trends, and great value. For example, Bed, Bath & Beyond has a clearance section where you can find all kinds of wonderful housewares for a fraction of the original cost. I have teenage daughters, so buying designer clothes is very important to them. When we shop at department stores, we always find great deals on the clearance shelves.

4. Reuse
When you go shopping, look for items that can be reused. Rechargeable batteries are a perfect example. Although the initial purchase may be more than non-rechargeable batteries, there are definite savings over a long period. Stop buying paper plates and cups and plastic eating utensils. I know a lot of people who wash and reuse them, but I don’t like that idea. I only buy these items if we are going to a cookout or picnic. There is no reason to buy them for birthday parties or family gatherings. Only use the plates, glasses, and utensils in your cabinets. You may have to wash a few more dishes, but it’s worth the effort.

5. Buy in bulk
It is true that grocery shopping can save a lot of money. Even if you have a small family, you can always split large amounts. The price of bulk items is usually a great bargain. If you are single, you can go with friends or family in bulk items. Be sure to check the prices though. Warehouses and shopping clubs are sometimes more expensive.

6. Vouchers
Okay, so maybe you used to laugh when you see people pull out your coupons in stores, but the truth is that using coupons can save you hundreds of dollars each year. Coupons can be used at supermarkets, retail chains, and any store where the item is sold. Some stores offer double coupon days, which is an extra bonus. On average, you could easily save 5-15% on a $100 bill just by presenting a coupon. Coupons aren’t just for food, and by looking in your local newspaper you can find coupons for all kinds of merchandise. You can even buy coupons on eBay! You can get hundreds of dollars worth of coupons for just a few dollars on eBay. Even if you can’t use them all, you’ll save HUGE on your grocery bill! I have saved up to $75 on a $225 grocery bill. I paid $150 for $225 in groceries. If I did that twice a month I would save $1800 a YEAR!

7. The right time to buy
Studies have shown that when you shop when you’re hungry, depressed, tired, and stressed, you shop more. Before going to the supermarket, eat something. If you’re upset or feeling a little sad, calm down or wait until you feel better before you go shopping. As fun as it sounds, having a clear head is important when it comes to shopping and spending money efficiently.

8. Comparison store
Price comparison can make a big difference in the price you pay. You may be looking for a barbecue grill at one location for $350.00, and two more stops to find the exact grill or a comparable one for $300. Also, consider the price of assembled versus unassembled items. For example, you can find the unassembled barbecue grill for $250. A couple of hours of “fun” putting the grill together is certainly worth a $100 savings.

9. Dollar Stores
Many years ago, dollar stores offered only off-brand or poorly made merchandise. However, that has completely changed. Now you can walk into a dollar store and find laundry soap, cleaning supplies, clothing, school supplies, all from the same brand for a fraction of the cost. While a bottle of store-brand laundry detergent might cost $6.50 at a grocery store, you can find the same product and size at the dollar store for $2.50. Visit your local dollar store and enjoy mountains of savings.

10. Go generic
When shopping for food, try some of the generic items. Unless you or your guests are connoisseurs of fine dining, you won’t know if the green beans were generic or name brand. Once you add a little butter, salt, and pepper, no one will know the difference except you: $.79 per can vs. $.33 per can! People don’t realize that many generic brands are actually made by brand-name companies, simply branded under a different name. In fact, companies like those that make snack foods will have conveyor belts that run side by side, one for the brand name and one for the generic brand. This is quite common and the only difference is the label and the price.

11. Stock up
While shopping, if you notice that a brand you and your family use constantly is on sale for a great bargain, stock up. As an example, if you use a particular type of shampoo that costs $4.50 a bottle and you find it on sale for $2.50, go ahead and buy two bottles. You should only do this on items that you know will be used. If you only buy an item because it’s on sale, you’re not saving money by not using it.

12. Clothes shopping
There are many secrets related to saving money on clothes. As a perfect example, instead of buying a matching suit for $450, buy the pieces separately. This will save you about $100 to $150. Also, buy multiple pieces that can be mixed and matched, giving you six four-piece outfits.

13. Trendy Fashion
Most people love to dress in the latest fashions, but for those fashions, you pay a lot of money. Consider dressing in the basics and then accenting it with trendy accessories. This will save you money on clothes that are less expensive and allow you to dress better.

14. Stay away from shopping malls
If possible, stay away from shopping malls. Expensive malls have high overheads and are designed to sell, sell, sell. Prices are generally higher, and in most cases, people walk away with more than they bargained for. It is better to buy in independent stores or on the Internet.

15. Buying cars
Compare prices at the best price. While you may have your eye on that “perfect” car and want it now, by waiting and looking around you could be saving yourself a lot of money. Also, check out other states. If you live a few hours by car from other cities, check the price difference. The five hours it takes to drive can be worth the money saved.

16. Menu plan
Although it will take some time at first, after you have planned a week’s menu once, it will be much easier and, best of all, it will save you money. Knowing exactly what you are going to make helps you buy food that can be used more than once. For example, if you’re having spaghetti on Tuesday, you could buy ground beef in bulk at a better price and then use the other half for tacos on Saturday. Another option would be to buy round steak where one night you make Salisbury steak and then a few days later you use the leftovers for breakfast. This will help you lengthen meals and avoid last-minute or impulse purchases.

17. Go out to dinner
Eating out can be expensive. Instead of giving up eating out, simply cut back and look to two-for-one options. Restaurants of all calibers offer weekly specials and if you check the Sunday paper you can often find specials. You might even consider signing up as an Internet Mystery Shopper, where you can eat at fancy restaurants for free or at a deep discount just for writing a review about the food, service, and cleanliness.

18. Freeze food
When you go grocery shopping, look for deals on items that can be frozen. Most people don’t even think about grating block cheese and freezing it. Did you know that you can even freeze eggs? You can, as long as you give them some room to expand. When you’re ready to use, just leave them at room temperature. If you find apples for sale, make your own apple pies and freeze them or make applesauce. Many foods can be frozen without any problem. So the next time you see a great bargain, think about freezing it. (Dairy products other than cheese generally don’t freeze well.)

19. Baby food
Instead of buying expensive baby food, make your own. You can use fresh vegetables like peas, green beans, or corn, run them through the blender, then freeze individual servings in ice cube trays. When it’s time to feed baby, just pop out a food cube, thaw, and you’ve got instant food. This is a real time and money saver. Most foods can be frozen. In fact, if you… make familiar meals like spaghetti or soups, just make a smaller portion with less salt and spices, puree, freeze just like vegetables.

20. Silence smoking
This is probably the hardest habit to break, but in addition to saving your health, you’ll also save money. Cigarettes have become quite expensive, and if you can quit, you’ll enjoy breathing easier and having more to stash for a rainy day.

21. Seasonal shopping
One to three days after a holiday, stores mark their holiday items 50% to 75% off. This is an ideal way to stock up on next year’s Christmas or Halloween decorations. This also applies to stores that sell seasonal clothing. Buying jackets or sweaters in the summer will provide you with great deals.

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