Raising Your Shopping I.Q.

Tips on finding the next bargain

Just when you think you've learned all you can about being clever, a new wrinkle pops up - in this case (like many of my 'brainstorms') this one also comes via my wife. She's a canny shopper, and I like to think that I can craft a good deal now and then. But recently she came up with a new wrinkle.

In the old days we clipped coupons and mailed in store receipts to companies to get rebates, but in this high-tech age things have gotten more savvy, especially on the part of commercial firms. Computers now run everything - from scanning items at check-out to doing inventory to setting prices. So, the pressure is on to be just as savvy in responding to the deals that are out there. In previous hubs [Money-Saving Tips - Parts One and Two] I detailed a few good ideas, but now there are even more things to share.

For instance, our local grocery store chain credits shoppers with points that can be used for discounts on gas at their own filling stations. As a result, last week we filled up a son's gas tank for half of what it would normally cost him, thanks to a discount of $1.90 per gallon. Not only that, but when we buy enough fuel, the company gives us a percentage discount on a future food purchase at their stores!

Add to that little perk this gem: that same store chain sells a 'gazillion' type of gift cards in varying denominations, and most of them also earn us gas discounts. So, if we need lawn and garden supplies at a big box store, we trot by our grocer first and get a card for that exact store. If we want to eat out at a chain restaurant (or go on a trip, when we know we'll be eating in restaurants for a few days - or weeks) we buy gift cards for that chain.

Another tip: food specials at our grocery chain stores begin on Thursdays and end on Wednesdays. Until recently we just shopped whenever we needed something or were in that store. But just a few weeks ago my wife (I told you she's super!) talked to an employee stocking the meat counter and learned that, not only are there what they call "manager's specials" on meat - products they want to push and reduce - but after 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays the price on those "special" buys is cut in half! Whoopee! As a result we currently have a small roast, a chicken and eight pork chops in our freezer, waiting to be devoured at bargain prices.

Now, since you no doubt don't live in the same area we do, you'll have to do a little looking around and talk to a few employees who are 'in the know' in order to dig up real bargains and canny shopping tips for yourself. But, believe us, it's worth it. And if we (read she!) come across any more good ideas, we'll pass them on in future articles on Hubpages. Happy shopping, everyone.

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