Book Review and Giveaway: Good Deals & Smart Steals

By Lynn Truong on 9 January 2009 (Updated 30 June 2009) 221 comments

Good Deals & Smart Steals: How to save money on everything is from the editors of Good Housekeeping, and this handy book offers hundreds of ideas for getting the best value for your money on every kind of purchase. I've also got two copies to give away!

The editors have compiled an astonishing amount of tips in the small, easy-to-carry-with-you book. And you want to carry it with you all the time -- it even has carefully prepared scripts for negotiating with sellers in a variety of situations.

It's broken up into two parts. Part 1 explains how to be a smart shopper.  Part 2 shows how to get a good deal.

Part 1 lays the ground work and provides the mind set.  Smart shoppers plan ahead, wait for sales, keep receipts, avoid paying credit card interest, always comparison-shop, and takes advantage of savings opportunities.  It teaches couponing and rebate basics, as well as using the best online resources to compare prices and find the best deals.

Part 2 gives valuable information on how to shop and save money on particular items, like lighting, heating, cleaning, cooling, gardening, pets, home improvement, appliances, electronics, dining, groceries, clothing, beauty, services, entertainment, and more. It really does deliver on its promise to show how to save money on everything.

It's a great guide to have on hand, and two lucky Wise Bread readers can win a copy!

To enter the giveaway, post a comment with your best bargain hunting/smart shopping tip.  Drawing will close on January 18, 2009. U.S. and Canada only.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner.

This drawing has ended. Congrats to Laura and Carla for winning!

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rachel

froogle.com then ebates.com

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Mary in CO

I comparison-shop on websites -- and then use eCoupon sites (retailmenot.com, mycoupons.com, etc.) to find codes or coupons that will knock $$ off the posted prices.

Google " coupon" or " coupon". You'd be surprised!

Guest's picture
Carrie in KY

During the after-Christmas and the January clearance sales, I stop by stores I would not normally think of shopping in (just to browse anyway). Auto parts supply stores like AutoZone often have some items packaged specifically for the holidays and these are heavily discounted after Christmas. I got a great mini-vaccuum for my car a couple of years ago. I will also stop in at home improvement and tool stores, which I rarely visit at any other time, just to check out what they have. I am able to finish up much of my Christmas shopping for the year by the end of January by breaking out of the places I normally shop and trying something new.

Guest's picture
em

I always read the comments on any of Amazon's gold box specials. They're extremely helpful in determining if it really is a deal or not, and occaisionally will provide coupon codes to save even more.

Guest's picture
typome

My best tip would be to stick to a list. I know it's not original, but by looking at a list and realizing that the item you're all of a sudden coveting isn't on there, makes you see that it's not all that important. And if it were important, you could add it to your list for next time. This works not just for the grocery either; for clothes shopping, Target, etc.

Guest's picture

My best bargin hunting shopping tip is to always ask the sales associate if they can do anything to help you. i have gotten so many things discounted this way. most people barely even glance at the associate as they ring up their purchases. I've worked in retail, so i always have a smile ready and a nice word. soemtimes thats all it takes for someone behind the counter to give me an unadvertised discount. Also, stay informed and know if soemone else has a better deal, and say you'd want to give your biz to a particular store so know before you go!

Guest's picture

Watch for sales on food stuffs and stock up when the item is on sale.

Guest's picture
Sally

Most sales at major stores come in cycles. If you can't afford it (or don't need it) now, it will come back around again.

Guest's picture
Paul

I'm subscribed to the slickdeals.net and hot-deals.org RSS feeds to I can find good deals when they occur.

Guest's picture

If there is no possible immediate use or an unclear future use its not a deal, just another way to clutter your life

Guest's picture
Noel

I love Amazon subscriptions! For toiletries and bath/body products, I save a huge amount over what i'd pay in the store.
Not only do you save gas/travel money by having your stuff shipped to you, but the shipping is free, you can control how often your order gets sent, and there is a 10% discount (on top of the already-discounted amazon prices- but this doesn't hold true for everything).

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Kristin

I find that if I go to the mall during all the insane sales, thinking I'll get a good deal... I just end up spending way more money then I would have on that one thing I actually needed. I'd rather get that one item at full price then a big pile of stuff on sale.

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Kay

Before I buy any big-ticket item, I "Google" it to look up prices and I also look it up on Amazon to see how well the product is reviewed. If I decide to buy, I search for discount codes or coupons, using the search strings "coupon code" "promotional code". I just caught on to Ebates.com and it seems like a good way to go. Also, if going to a physical location, like Michael's or Bed, Bath & Beyond, I make it a point to go to their web sites to download a coupon. Michael's usually has around 40% off.

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Bri

When my husband and I were shopping for a new TV, we took his blackberry with us. That way we were able to instantly compare online and competitor's pricing. The retailer's price match policy saved us a fair amount of money.

Guest's picture
Steph

I combine coupons with sales in order to get the best deal on groceries. By shopping at multiple stores and creating a pantry out of which I plan meals, I've managed to get our food/toiletry/diaper bill under $200 a month for a family of five!

Guest's picture
Therese

I research the item online first to find out exactly what I want and comparison-price. Then I call stores before I go to make sure they have the item in stock.

Guest's picture

I would say the price comparison book for groceries, toiletries, and any other item we buy on a regular basis has been my most effective money-saving strategy when it comes to routine shopping. It's invaluable because there's no other resource that tells me what the local prices are for the things that I buy. It shows me very clearly when I'm looking at a fantastic price, or just another promotion that is really no savings at all. It gives me the confidence to stock up on 20 pounds of butter or a 25-pound bag of rice when the price is right.

Please count me in for the drawing. Thanks.

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Ruth Ann

I do a lot of what other people have mentioned but one that I haven't read is getting stores to price match their competitors ads. This is a bit time saver if you're already going to one store but another has the lower advertised price on an item. I also price match items at stores that have a reward program (like Best Buy). I get the lower prices, the rewards for shopping there, the airline miles from my credit card, save time by shopping where (or at least near) I would be shopping anyway.

Guest's picture
Jeff McKinstry

I know that it is a huge indulgence, but I love to send my wife flowers. The only day that I used to flat refused to send them was on Valentines day.

I heard a tip one day and tried it out the next Valentines day. I placed an order with 1-800-FLOWERS toward the end of January to be delivered on Valentines day. I not only got the cheaper price by buying earlier, but I looked online and found a e-coupon for 15% off delivery.

Like I said, sending roses anytime is fairly expensive, but doing it this way, I made me (with the money part) and my wife (the flowers part) VERY happy!

Jeff

Guest's picture

Check craigslist first. You might find what you need at a better price than retail. Keep in mind that not everything sold on craigslist is used; some items are new, just not needed.

Guest's picture
Rhonda

Network! I tell my friends what I'm in the market for. I tell the thrift shop cashiers. I tell my relatives. Some of the time one or another of my friends or relatives will either have one themselves that they are glad to get rid of, or know someone who has one, and you end up with it for free. If that doesn't work then my friendly thrift shop cashiers will often watch for an item (I go in often so they are very familiar with my face) and I can get it for much less than retail. And if neither of these work then I go to many of the techniques listed in the other comments. You'll be amazed at how often someone else is looking to get rid of what you are looking for!

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Lesa

I use lots of ways to stay frugal and smart. It helps that I don't like to spend a lot of time shopping.

1. I get my main bulk of groceries for my family of 3 through the Angel Food Ministries. http://www.angelfoodministries.com/

2. Aldi shopping fills in the remainder of our food budget. Aldi prices are, on average, half of a regular grocery store.

3. Walgreens sales and Super Saver catalog are wonderful. I go through the weekly sales add and mark items that are already a great deal for the week, then go online and look for printable coupons that I can then use with the Walgreens coupons/sales for extra savings.

4. When it comes to books, DVDs, and CDs... we use the library and inter-library loans a lot. Just remember to return them on time or the benefit of free goes away with having to pay late fees.

5. Look for the Rebox machines! http://www.wisebread.com/never-pay-for-a-redbox-dvd-rental-again

6. There are many many online options for free education, classes, workouts, etc... YouTube has lots of how-to videos in just about anything you can think of. http://www.exercisetv.tv/ has tons of free workout videos. http://sparkpeople.com/ has everything you need to get in shape and stay there. http://www.free-ed.net/free-ed/ is a great start for educational classes.

7. If you have Netflix... use their Instant option for watching movies and workouts. You can get their basic unlimited 1 DVD subscription for $8.99 per month and then have unlimited Instant Streaming video options on their website.

8. Go to the movies at home! Call your friends, dig out the hot air popcorn popper and sit back and enjoy your many low cost movie options (I just mentioned quite a few.)

9. Browse the thrift shops. I'm not fond out digging for stuff. I'm not that into shopping. Sometimes I'll go shopping with an item I'm looking for in mind (got my last 2 answering machines for $3 a piece at my local thrift shop) and can quickly scan to see if they have what I'm looking for. Sometimes I'll just stop in and lightly browse. I'm careful not to buy something just because I think I'll use it. If I can't think of an actual needed use for an item, then it stays there. Last week I found a Medical Dictionary for $5 (I had been borrowing my mother's copy). I knew I had a use for it and I knew $5 was a steal for it. It was the exact same dictionary as the one I had been borrowing.

10. Stop buying on a whim! My husband does this and it drives me nuts. He'll come home with stuff that is useful but not necessary and he paid $ for it that could have been saved or put towards a student loan or credit card bills.

11. Stop smoking and put the $ you would have spent on your bad habit away for a special trip. I have a friend who's doing this and is putting the money in savings for a trip to Amsterdam next year for her birthday. Smoking or Amsterdam? Hmmmm, seems like a no-brainer to me.

12. Limit your wardrobe. No one needs 10 pairs of jeans (or even 5 for that matter), a closet full of shoes, shelves full of handbags, etc...

13. Take advantage of the free stuff to do around town. Look at your park district website, your library's calendar of events, etc... I guarantee there's fun stuff going on around your area that will cost you nothing or next to nothing to attend and participate in.

Guest's picture
Tee Poole

Any time I need to pick up a bigger ticket item (electronics, furniture, appliances, etc) I always always check with the store clerk to see if they have an "as-is" or damaged section. Often the stuff in there is very mildly damaged -- we once scored a $400 TV for $125 because of a scuff down the side -- and I'm always surprised at the number of stores that have those areas, even if they're not advertised or even visible from the sales floor.

Guest's picture
D Cheeseman

I buy all my toiletres at the dollar store or bargain shop. I find the things I buy are much cheaper than at the grocery store. And I get the brand names I like. I also take in my used books to a used book store and get credit to buy more books. This is a great way to buy books for the grandkids to read when they come to visit.

Guest's picture
Shannon

One of my best tips to get a good deal is to wait until the last half hour to shop at the farmer's market. They are often more than happy to knock a bit off of already good prices so they don't have to transport the fruit/veggies back.

Guest's picture
Justine

I try to use basic items for multiple things. Baking Soda for cooking and cleaning and deodorizing. Vaseline for beauty stuff. Shoe boxes as drawer organizers.

Guest's picture
Shanny

Shop around, shop online, and get companies to price match and/or throw in freebies.

Guest's picture
Jaxter

I use the net for lots of purchases and found naughtycodes.com really helpful. They list all the codes that retailers send out to subscribers that way you don't have to subscribe to everything to get a deal.

Guest's picture
Evolvingmom

Thrift stores are the way to go! You'd be AMAZED at the number of BRAND NEW items that end up "donated" with the price tag still attached...and as an extra bonus, find out when and where your local Target (or other favorite department store) donates their surplus items. I know that the local Target store gives their "unsold" items to our local Goodwill store on Wednesday nights, so I always stop by on Thursday mornings for brand new inventory...

Guest's picture
Sheree Warner

I don't know about tips but I am a great bargain shopper. I read labels, checking cost per weight. Larger packages are not cheaper than the equal amount of small ones. I watch for items on sale. I try to buy a couple of extra ones if the item is on a really good sale. Sometimes that is hard to do though. I do buy a lot of off brands too.

Guest's picture
Carol

My best tip, as a veteran mom of four who is just about debt-free, is to look at EVERY purchase you make and think about the necessity of buying it. We are saturated with media images of things they tell us we need to be happy. Use you own mind and discern what is important to you.

Guest's picture
Denise

I look at the price per unit on the store tags and buy the cheaper one regardless of size much of the time.

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Kristin

"So do you offer any sales or discounts on that?" If you don't ask, you'll never know.

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Liz M.

If you see something you like. Hold off and do research, make sure that you are really getting the best deal out there. The internet is your friend. But don't be afraid of the smoking deals. So opportunities are too good to pass up!

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Elizabeth P

I find that shopping early morning, about 8 am allows me to get the best deals on price down meats. I recently found 12 pounds of boneless pork loin for $13.45!! I love deals like that.

Guest's picture
susan varney

keep it simple buy bulk

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Amanda

I look for stores that are going out of business. They're happy to clear out their inventory and I'm happy to buy items for a considerable discount. Just a few days ago, I got a pre-lit Christmas tree for $50 plus another 30% off (store-wide clearance) of that. I ended up getting it for about 65% off.

Thanks for the give-away!

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Mary M

I've found so many bargains - some new in the box - at my local Goodwill and Salvation Army, as well as some very special treasures on shopgoodwill.com.

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Mila

Don't grocery shop when you're hungry - you'll be so tempted to buy more stuff

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Mary

Hands down, our best way to save money and be frugal is to shop at cheap grocery stores. In particular, we hit Aldi for all our staples first, and then we go up the grocery store quality chain for the rest of our list. :-)

Guest's picture
Donna R.

Hmmm. . if you're short of cash, stay out of the stores unless you really need something. If you don't see stuff, you won't want it. Would love to win this prize. Thanks for the contest.

Guest's picture
Celia

Most grocery store meat departments have a certain day and time that they put out meats that are marked down because they are approaching their "sell by' date and a new weekly special flier is coming out that day. For instance, one local grocery does this between 9 and 10 A.M. on every Wednesday.

I like to show up at that time and, on days when they have lots of things we will use, buy as much of the marked down meat as I think will fit in my freezer.

A couple of years ago on a Wednesday right after the 4th of July weekend, I bought $75 worth of beef, spare ribs and chicken. When I tallied up the original sticker price, it was around $250. And most of the items had already been on sale because of the big grilling weekend. I was most proud of the pre-made Angus burgers for 25 cents each.

So make a note of what day your local grocers send out their weekly sales fliers. Nose around the meat departments those days and see if they are marking things down.

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

I buy a lot of store brand items. Most of the time my family can't tell the difference between that and a brand name item

Guest's picture
Tom

Don't buy more than you actually need.. even if you have coupons for things and things are on sale.

Guest's picture
Jacqueline

I always combine coupons with sales, and always buy things that are on sale. I refuse to pay full price for anything anymore because everything is just so over-priced.

I also always do my Christmas shopping for the following Christmas during all of the post-Christmas sales. That means, that, yes I am done my Christmas shopping already!

Guest's picture
Anne

Being thrifty is really my lifestyle. I love getting FPC's (free product coupons) Save.ca or I email companies directly giving them either a compliment or a negative experience I've had and I usually get a fpc from them.

I love going to thrift stores, when my kids were smaller I outfitted them almost entirely this way.

There are some Canadian Freebie sites that I frequent such as greatwestnorth, pricenetwork, redflagdeals and I find quite a lot of freebies that way.

I also get up and shop super early when things are just marked down. The grocery stores in my town were all marking down meat on Christmas Eve and we got chicken brsts, gr beef, stk, pk chops all for over 50% off!

There are also points programs, Air Miles, pointsandprizes, etc. I turned in some of my Air Miles and got my kids over $200 worth of Gift Cards this Christmas!! WOO!

We only buy bread that has been marked down and has an "end date" the day after we buy it, so we freeze everything and just use what we need. I pay a flat .89 for anything from 1.50 loaf of bread up to 6.00 box of cinnamon buns!

I love living life this way!

Guest's picture
Simon Ng

Check out Smartcanucks for the best deals before going out to the malls!

Guest's picture
sandy

a coupon is not a savings if the item is not used or rots-----

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Margaret Herrin

Use coupons.

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Kay

I pick up things for gifts when I know I'll have a use for it, when the items are in a blow-out sale bin...example: picked up a photo frame for 50¢, that's a gift that can be given to anyone! I'll store stuff like that until i need it, and I also use freebies and/or coupons to pick up great gift buys

Guest's picture
Debtmaven

This is an oldie but a goodie: don't buy another new book ever! Patronize the library. Most have good online search systems and inter-library loans.

I cruise the bookstore for all the new books I want to read, then go home and order them from the library. A few days later they start arriving, and I have a new crop of books to read.

Don't buy cookbooks - browse their selections to pickup new recipes for dinner.

Check out back issues of magazines instead of buying them, or browse the current issue (often they won't let you check that issue out) in the library.

From a obsessive reader that previously spent $40-50 minimum a month buying paperbacks...

Guest's picture
Deborah Wellenstein

Never pay full price for anything! We bought big-ticket items the day after Thanksgiving-we saved a ton. Thanks!

Guest's picture
CC

Make mental note of what prices typically are on everyday items so when they drop, I can stock up. Thanks for the chance to win!

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Lisa

I use coupons on everything. Even if you save 40cents. It adds up.

Guest's picture

Planning and preparation are the most important part of saving, in my opinion. Being ready in advance by knowing about sales, having coupons, using the Internet to find the best deals... ect.

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Linda Chaput

Do your research

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audrey

When I see clothes I love, I go to shopstyle.com and add a sale alert. That way, the particular clothes or designer I like gets sent to my inbox. A lot of winter stuff is very cheap right now and winter has barely begun so you don't have to delay the gratification of rockin your new outfit.

Guest's picture
Nora SP

I always shop for the sales. I have come to know that some stores have fantastic sales and clearance twice a year in Jan-feb and in july to august. Many end of season sales and after holiday sales.I use coupons and I scan newspaper adds.I try to stop in grocery stores on Mondays for the markdowns.

Guest's picture
stacey dempsey

every saturday in the summer i am out there early looking for bargains, by sept i have all the kids winter gear, school clothes, supplies, xmas presents, anything you can imagine, you will find , like new , dirt cheap, i also collect up the free books and clothes offered up at garage sales and consign at the consginment stores and extra income comes in all winter

Guest's picture
Deborah R

I believe in making a shopping list for every shopping trip, not just the grocery store. Stick to your list like it's the law unless you come across an item you regularly use that's at a huge mark down.

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Janet F

Check the clearance section in stores and if you don't see it ask where it is.

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

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Karenlee

With the way the economy is, it is imperative to use whatever means possible to save money. I used coupons the other day at the store and saved $45.00! I would love to learn other strategies for stretching a buck!

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Amy Bowser

This is nothing new, but I shop my grocery store's ads and compare them with the coupons I have. I buy a LOT of that item if I have the coupons available and I know I will use it in a reasonable amount of time.

I subscribe to lots of frugal newsletters to get the newest amazing deals - just saved over 75% at Hickory Farms online!

I swap coupons and deals with friends, who then return the favor. Take advantage of any employer discounts (sometimes they negotiate with other vendors).

Guest's picture
lisa

Hi! I love eating different ethnic foods:Mexican, Indian, Greek,Chinese. I go to a restaurant & eat there once , then look up the recipes for what I liked on the internet. We ate at an Indian restaurant for my birthday & it was $53 for 3 people.We have never ever spent that much money eating out before.Well, I looked up everything so I can eat it more than once a year for lots less. Also I love going to yard sales & thrift stores. I bought 2 prom dresses a couple years ago for $2 apiece . They were the red velvet & purple velvet ones. I'm using them to make nice pillows from.

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adrienne Gordon

Winning a free book is a good bargain.

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Guest

My best bargans are on clothes I buy winter clothes in January and February and Summer in July and August.

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Patti Sherman

I am an avid garage saler....I have purchased many new items..still in their original boxes and used then as gifts. I purchased a wicker bedroom set for $100 that included a bed, chest, lamp, waste basket & night stand. Worth at least $800 and just like new!

Guest's picture
Amanda

Some of these have already been mentioned, but they're worth mentioning again.

Books - I use the library 95% of the time to read books I'm interested in. The other 5% of the time, I shop ebay, amazon, bn.com, half.com, or just google to find used copies of books at cheaper prices.

Movies - I signed up for free text messages at redbox.com and every Monday, I receive a coupon code for a free movie rental from any redbox location. I also use Netflix and for the movies I can't wait for, I go to the local discount theater ($2.50 is their most expensive admission price).

I'm also very careful about only buying grocery items that are on a list I make before I go. I only deviate from the list if, as another commenter pointed out, there's a mark-down on an item I normally use.

I use a credit card that offers cash-back rewards and I make sure to always pay off the card each month so interest doesn't accrue.

When I do use cash, I use bills; any change I get back, I save and when enough has accumulated, I go to a Coinstar machine to get a gift card (that way, you're able to take the full value of your money instead of giving Coinstar a percentage).

I bought a Starbucks gift card and registered it at their site so that whenever I use the card at Starbucks, I get discounts on the drinks I'm buying.

I confirm with myself two or three times before buying something that's a 'want' item instead of a 'need' item to make sure I really will use the item.

And, as somebody else mentioned, a book giveaway is a great way to save money! :)

Guest's picture
Icct Hedrix

When ever I see something that would be incredibly useful or something that Ive been wanting for sometime (a big cast iron skillet for example) I usually stop my self from buying it right then and there. I then wait a few weeks, shop around to see if anyone around us has it for less, and to make sure that I really need it or want it, THEN I buy it. Of course when were talking about a 10'' iron skillet for 8 bucks, you dont just pass it up :)

Guest's picture
Guest

Watch for sales and use coupons with the sales. Thank you
tatertot374@sbcglobal.net

Guest's picture
Lizzy

I use froogle.com to find a cheap price, then combine it with coupon codes. I also do online surveys to get free gift cards to places like amazon.com and then buy stuff off there for free.

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leloni

I am a big fan of coupons.

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Pamela Callahan

There are several ways to save money. I use coupons for everything and there are stores that offer double coupons (i.e .50 off becomes $1.00 off and $1.00 off becomes $2.00 off). I buy in quantities. Many stores offer their own brand of items and a few times a year they have store brand sales. Items are very reasonably priced and I buy enough at 1 sale to get me to the next time they have the sale. I also shop at discount / warehouse stores. Most of these stores carry items that have a damaged package, a dent in the can, or the manufacturer has changed their labeling and all of the old stuff goes to these stores. Items are about 1/4 of the price you would pay at a Walmart or Kroger.

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Mama Sage

Yes, cheese can be frozen!! We found the very best place to purchase cheese in our area to be our local GFS store. GFS is a restaurant supply (Gordon Food Services) that services a good portion of the great lakes region, east coast into Florida and some in other states that appear to be mainly east of the Mississippi. You may find a restaurant supply that sells to the public in your area by another name. The GFS store sells chubs of cheese. This week we were able to purchase provolone, muenster and swiss. I had it sliced for free and then froze small packages to take out as needed. Provolone cheese log....2.75 per pound. Muenster log....2.69 per pound. Swiss log....3.19 per pound. Another thing they had that was great prices was shredded cheese. I only really needed the co-jack shreds although there were other varieties. We bought a 5 pound bag for 12.99. When you divide that up it comes to about 2.60 a pound. So what is my basic hint? Don't assume you 'can't shop there.' Always check it out and see. We thought it was stictly for restaurants and found out their store is open to the public. GREAT prices on some things, (of course not all---no store has good prices on everything) and there are no membership fees.

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amy mayer

shop at your local thrift stores--many times they are set up so the proceeds goes back to the needy in the community--GREAT buys--like treasure hunting!

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Karen Hurst

I shop through fatwallet.com. I use coupon codes for $$ off and free shipping. I also receive cash back for shopping through thier affiliate links.

Sometimes a deal will offer a coupon code, free shipping AND a rebate. Make the product practically FREE.

Can't beat that for a deal.

Guest's picture
amanda

When bargaining with a seller never settle, walk away if you have to, they'll almost always come down.

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Olivia

The more ways you implement thrift the more addicting it becomes. Creative reuse is one of my favorites. How many ways can you use a gallon milk jug? (toilet brush holder, berry picker, sun tea maker, garden watering system...) Scrap wood? (tramp art boxes, tree houses, bird houses...) Rubber gloves? (rubber gaskets, noise makers, jar openers...) And so on.

We recently added gleaning to our repertoire, just having come across a wild raspberry patch last spring.

Loved reading the previous comments. I'm taking notes....

Guest's picture
linda

I always get books for free. I either borrow from the library, borrow from a friend or trade in my old reads at a used book store.

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tammy

coupons combined with sales and getting rebates, freebies, etc...

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Denise B.

Only buy items on sale that you also have a coupon for.

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Laura

My best tip, besides the obvious ones, is to learn how to bargain with sellers. This is something I was afraid to try for a long time, but even if you don't have an assertive personality, it's important to cultivate this skill. I started at yard sales--low stakes, low stress--and was surprised by how well it worked. I've only ever had one person refuse to come down on a price. When a big ticket negotiation came along, I had the confidence to keep bargaining when I otherwise would have given in. This skill ended up saving us thousands of dollars. Hope this helps someone!

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Jennifer W.

I use coupons and read weekly flyers to find the best deals.

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pamela

Be Patient! If you go looking for a deal, odds are that you won't immediately find it. Rather have an internal shopping list that you can fulfill when you see a deal. And on some level keep looking. For day-to-day items have a roster of outlets where deals can be gotten regularly. Don't be impulsive - it's hard to get a bargain that way - UNLESS you impulsively grab the rare deal you see right before your eyes.

Guest's picture
Carla MacDonald Everill

My best smart shopping tip is to grab any coupons you find on the store shelves, but don't give into the impulse to buy the product then. Stick the coupon in your (super organized) coupon folder and wait for a great sale. Things never seem to be on sale at the same time (or store) that the coupons are displayed.

Guest's picture
Heather

I combine sales with coupons at the grocery store and stock up on items we use only when they're on sale. I have started doing the same thing with household items and clothing and it has saved us a fortune! We now enjoy much nicer clothes than I ever would have purchased before but at a reduced price!

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KelR1

When I need something I first do a little research on the internet for the general price range of the item, then I dig a little deeper to see if any coupons, rebates, free shipping, etc. exist for said item. If I can get it locally I might call or visit a couple nearby stores that carry the item and see which one has the best deal. It also never hurts to ask a salesperson if there's a floor model, refurbished model, or if they have any specials currently going on.

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Rhonda Struthers

I only buy on sale. I study the flyers and plan my attack.

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Anita W

A lot of stores will honor competitor prices, so you don't have to go driving all over town to get a bargain. Just go to your favorite store.

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Kristine

Find a partner to trade coupons with. Many times I get more of the ones I need and my partner can get ones she needs.

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Michelle S

Check out local membership organizations that might offer discount cards. I had to join the Farm Bureau as part of an insurance policy. With membership came a card good for a percent off at a lot of local retailers. I am able to save on fast food, services and retail items. I typically save more than 10 times the cost of the yearly membership fee each year on items I would have purchased anyway.

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DL Stephens

My tip is the "Dollar Store". I usually try to buy most of my housecleaning supplies at this store because they are cheaper than a major retailer. They also have great deals on toy items that you can find anywhere else but you do have to be careful what items you do buy based on today's information regarding harmful ingredients in items from foreign countries.

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rbee

Get to know the people who work @ the local stores, they give me heads up on items going to be on sale in the near future.

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Colleen S

I love hitting the thirft stores with a list of stuff I want but dont need, like accessories for the house, small furniture items, clothes, kitchen stuff. Its a great way to indulge in a little shopping therapy and not come out of the store broke.

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Heather

If you prefer to feed your family in a healthier manner, form a natural food co-op and order in bulk or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where you receive a box of produce every week during the summer for a reduced price.

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Pat

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without." This still works today.

Thanks for the contest. Best wishes for a happy & prosperous 2009!

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Bonnie Day

I love garage sales and flea markets have come home with some great bargains

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David

I pay attention to the deal sites and I look for deals on the internet, some big box stores have sites and you can even look at flyers online, I've saved a lot that way.

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mindy

buy with your head not with your heart

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Kate

My best tip is to stay out of the stores! I must be short of self-control because even with lists, budget and the best of intentions, I often leave with some things that I didn't plan to buy.