Save Money. 2012 Money Savings Tips. Cut Personal, Home and Energy Costs
Saving Money is Easy
My money saving, gas conserving Toyota has a mind of its own. Yesterday, as I was heading home with several bags of groceries, my car executed a perfect right turn into the parking lot of a Salvation Army store. It must have seen the big, yellow "Sale" sign. And, 20 minutes later, I was thanking my smart vehicle as I exited the store with a new, black leather handbag ($2.00) and a beautiful salmon-colored silk suit ($4.00).
Okay. . . I admit, it's wasn't my car's decision. I'm the culprit. My "bargain" radar is always beeping and I frequently follow the signal. However, in these tight economical times saving money is paramount and, I find myself limiting even my bargain hunting. Here are some great ways to save.
Yep, the guy in the commercial wearing Goodwill blues is right. You can snag some unbelievable bargains, if you are willing to spend some time shopping at your neighborhood AMVETS, Salvation Army, or Goodwill shop. You will get your best deals when the stores advertise their "color" sales when most items tagged with the color of the day or week, are discounted 50% or more. The Salvation Army even has 48 cents days -- usually on Saturday -- when the featured color is -- you guessed it -- 48 cents.
These stores not only benefit from generous patrons who donate used clothing, but also from other retail stores who donate some new items they deem unsaleable. Note, unsaleable, doesn't always mean unwearable. The jacket of the silk suit I picked up for four bucks, was a size 12 and the skirt was size 10. However, you can't tell that when I put it on.
Of course, you should carefully check your finds. Look for well made, classic clothing in colors which will compliment your existing wardrope. Generally, avoid items with obvious stains and wear and tear. Also, sniff the item -- avoid any with the odor of mildew or mothballs-- you'll want to laundry the item before wearing, but some odors are tough to remove. Try on clothing if there is a dressing room available.
Note, you can run across designer items in these stores; often, these items will be located in a showcase near the front of the store. These items will be priced higher so make sure you have an idea of the retail price, before you buy.
Gotta Have the Designer Look?
If you crave more designer duds, check out second-hand, resale and thrift shops. You may have to pay a few bucks more, but you are certainly going to pay a lot less than buying a new item in a regular retail establishment. Hopefully, you can tell your Prada from your Plato, since these places may unintentionally harbor a knock off or two.
The same rules apply here. Check your finds for obvious and not-so obvious damage. Is it a quality piece? Pull out and shut the drawers. Keep a tape measure in your car so you can make sure the item will fit in your home and visualize the finishes and style of your existing furniture. Will this piece fit in?
You'll want to plug in any electronics to make sure they work. Also, consider traveling with some spare batteries AA and AAA so you can make sure the item works before purchasing.
And, if you change your mind after you get home with your purchase, most stores have a limited return policy. Return the item within the week if possible. A bonus to spending your dough in some of these second-handers is that these stores use some of the proceeds to benefit their clients.
Periodicals, Books, etc.
There are great bargains in thrift shops. There are even discount stores for readers such as Half-Price Books. Before, you pay full-price for a magazine, book, tape or journal, check out a discounter with new and gently-used inventory.
Last year, when I found myself facing a long delay at the airport and out of discount books. I found an airport retailer where you could purchase a book and then return it to a sister store for a partial refund. I purchased the book, started it while I waited, finished it on the plane and then returned it at my connecting airport and received some of my money back. Good deal!
I save a bundle on grocery store and restaurant food with coupons. Not only do I use the coupons in my newspaper, but I ask my family to save any they don't need. I often shop at stores advertising double coupon days. My goal when grocery shopping is not to buy anything that is not on sale or discounted via a coupon.
If I see a particularly fiscally sound coupon (i.e. a restaurant coupon saving me $10.00) and I'm certain I am going to use it before the expiration date, I will buy another newspaper (after making sure it's in the newspaper, of course). Give the extra newspaper to the library, bookstore or a neighbor.
Also, many restaurants, manufacturers, etc. allow you to sign up for coupons and special offers. Some notable websites include Restaurants.com and Entertainment.com. In addition, you can use a search engine such as Yahoo, Goggle or Bing, and type in "coupons" to find a savings bonanza.
In addition the above-mentioned discount days discounters use, many restaurants are now touting happy hour and other special hours, when can get entrees and appetizers at a discount. Note,restaurants recommend you use the pre-discount price to determine your tip. Some restaurants are known for providing ample servings. Another way I have saved funds is by sharing an entree; this works well if you are calorie-conscious.
You can use Entertainment.com to find many two-for-one coupons for activities and events. Once again, don't forget to check individual websites for specials or discounts. You can even get daily or weekly coupons and discounts emailed to you.
Car, Truck, etc.
Research prices and then bargain, bargain, bargain. Set a reasonable price and don't go below it. Don't hesitate to dealorship shop to make sure you get your price. Late model used cars are usually better choices than a new car simply because you lose money as soon as your drive the new car off the lot. However, if you are buying a used car, make sure you get one with a warranty and/or have your mechanic check it out before you buy.
Speaking of mechanics, get a second opinion on any work you have done on your vehicle. Some work simply is not necessary or may be inflated in price. Form a relationship with a good car shop and use them exclusively if they are fair and not prone to inflate the cost of repairs.
One final tip, the last time I had my brakes checked, the mechanic mentioned that my brakes looked awfully good for the amount of miles I had accumulated. I wasn't surprised. I don't ride my brakes; in fact, when traffic permits, I coast alone sans acceleration. Gas is pretty high and I don't want to waste a drop.
I'm sure you know to turn off electronics when not in use, but do you also unplug them. It'll save you some cents since your radio, TV, etc. continue to use energy even if they are turned off.. Solar appliances such as solar water heaters, may cut your utility bill; however, keep in mind they may be more expensive to buy and install initially. Consider using wind power or solar power to supplement or replace your lighting and heating appliances.
Do minor household repairs yourself or call upon Uncle Ed who will work for a Bud and a sincere, "Thank You." If you must contract the work out, use the Better Business Bureau or Angie's List to vett your handyman. Skip the middle-man services who act as general contractors. The fee you pay them must cover their expenses and salary along with the salary of the handyman.
Once again, shopping around is your best bet. There are numerous travel sites offering discounts. Cost compare your travel options. See the hub on Traveling Cheap or Free for money saving traveling tips.
Happy Bargain Hunting!
Stay Aware and Save
So, fellow saver, as you can see, the deals are out there. Keep your bargain-hunting radar on auto-pilot and you will find yourself saving money and living quite well for quite less. Happy hunting!
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