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Money Saving Tips - Part One

Updated on May 3, 2010

The U.S. economy is recovering, but are you? Rule #1 of economics: Earn more, or spend less - right?

But that's harder than it sounds when 9.7% of the population is still out of work and at least as many people are under-employed - or taking (or going back to) jobs at lower pay.

So how do we cope until things get better? Rule #2: Spend less as you spend! Here are a few ways to cut costs right now as you buy what you really need (and want, depending on your resources).

I. Pounce on 'Deals' and 'Promotions.'

Stores are eager right now to make sales. They need income just as much as we do, to stay in business and get their financial footing back - so most firms are offering really great bargains. Here are some things to look for as you shop:

. . . discounts of 50% to 70% (or more) . . . an extra % of off, over already reduced prices . . . tax-free offers . . . states that don't tax items - like clothing in PA for instance! . . . 0% financing on large items (cars, appliances, home furnishings) . . . free shipping (on-line and in-store) . . . no tax on items shipped from one state to another (shipping often costs less than the tax would have!)

A few examples:

1. A major store chain offers a free membership card that racks up dollars with every purchase. When you shop in one of their stores, they credit your 'account' with 5% of every purchase. Then you use the card (just like a gift card) and spend all or part of your balance at any time for up to 12 months. That perk saved me $85 on a new watch in February!

2. We just bought an outdoor rug to use on a new screened-in lower deck. It was marked down at half price - plus no tax, a delayed charge on our credit card, and free drop shipping (because that house is in another state than the store). The same store had 10'x14' carpets on sale for $99 (originally priced in the thousands, of excellent quality). Why? Because they were discontinued items!

3. We needed a chaise lounge, chair and ottoman for that same lower deck. Last Saturday we stopped at a patio furniture store to see what is currently available. My wife had just told me about a set she had decades ago and when we walked up to the store, there in the window on the right was the exact set - an updated version - by the same manufacturer! Even better, the items were on sale at 40% off the regular price. When my wife said she was interested but wanted their very best price, the sales rep checked with the manager, came back and offered us an additional 10% off!!

II. Special Discounts and Offers:

I needed a new printer two years ago. The latest version of the one I wanted to buy cost $349, but the sales clerk said to me, "Now, we still have four left of last year's model. It's the same printer, only without a few extra icons that come up on the display screen. Its price is $89, and the company is giving anyone who buys one a $50 rebate. They really want to move those out." So I bought the new printer I really wanted, minus a few minor 'bells and whistles,' for $39. A no-brainer, as they say.

Next week I plan to purchase a new computer for use at our other house. I know which one I'm buying. It's the same model as the one I bought two years ago (and still at the same price!) but has twice the hard drive capacity (500 GB instead of 250) - and the store made arrangements for me to donate my eight-year old tower model and monitor to a church's middle school as a tax donation. And, they'll shipping the new computer to me out-of-state at half the cost of the sales tax I'd pay if I took delivery here!

One year ago I bought a new summer sport coat in silk. It was gorgeous, but by springtime this year (after wearing it only five times) the inner facing on the right front came loose and clumped. It looked ugly and was un-wearable. To make matters worse, my sales receipt was stored in another state far away. What to do?

At my wife's urging I took the coat back to the store where it was purchased. 'What could they do to help solve the problem?' I asked. Without discussion, the clerk helped me try on a half dozen other sport coats until we found one in a similar style and color. Then they gave me the new coat, made of better material (regular cost $289), at no additional charge in exchange for the one I'd purchased on sale at $99!

Not spending any money is the surest way to save, but that's just not realistic. So, if you have to / want to buy something, you might as well get it as inexpensively as possible, and that requires being alert for every possible way to reduce costs and it requires asking for the best possible deal. Most of the time, people in business will find a way to make a sale that benefits you the most and still leaves room for some profit.

Read the second part in this series to learn more ways to save big!

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