discounts en-US 2014 Tax Day Freebies and Discounts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/2014-tax-day-freebies-and-discounts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman holding burger" title="woman holding burger" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Dreading April 15? You should be looking forward to it! Whether you owe taxes or are looking forward to a refund, you can count on a day filled with freebies and discounts. Here's a comprehensive list of Tax Day offers. All offers are for April 15, 2014 only, unless otherwise noted. (See also: <a href="">Birthday Freebies</a>)</p> <h2>Arby's</h2> <p>Free curly fries. Check <a href=""></a> for the coupon.</p> <h2>AMC Theaters</h2> <p>Free small popcorn at AMC Theaters <a href="">with this coupon</a>, April 12-15</p> <h2>Bob Evans</h2> <p>Free dinner when you buy one, after 4 p.m., <a href=";_X=86Z-LtJrgGgY0">with coupon</a>.</p> <h2>California Tortilla</h2> <p>Say &quot;taxes shmaxes&quot; and get a <a href="">free chips and queso</a> or salsa. (Despite the name, this chain is in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.</p> <h2>Dunkin Donuts</h2> <p>Free turbo shot, must <a href="">download their app</a> and show coupon on mobile device.</p> <h2>Great American Cookies</h2> <p>Free <a href="">regular chocolate chip cookie</a>.</p> <h2>Hard Rock Cafe</h2> <p>Sing a complete song on stage, <a href="">get a free entree</a>, between 5 and 7 p.m. Contact your local Hard Rock to sign up.</p> <h2>HydroMassage</h2> <p><a href="">Print this coupon</a> for a free &quot;experience.&quot;</p> <h2>Office Depot</h2> <p>Up to 5 lbs. free shredding <a href="">with coupon</a>.</p> <h2>Schlotzsky's</h2> <p><a href="">Free small The Original sandwich</a> with purchase of 32 oz. drink and bag of chips.</p> <p>In addition to the free offers listed above, a number of businesses are offering special discounts for Tax Day.</p> <h2>Boston Market</h2> <p>Two half chicken meals, served with two sides and cornbread, for $10.40, no coupon needed.</p> <h2>Bruegger's Bagels</h2> <p>Get a Big Bagel Bundle for $10.40, April 12-15, <a href="">with this coupon</a>. That includes 13 bagels and 2 tubs cream cheese.</p> <h2>Buca di Beppo</h2> <p>15 percent off any purchase with <a href="">this coupon</a>.</p> <h2>Entertainment Book</h2> <p>Normally $15, these coupon books will go for <a href="">$10.49 plus $2.49 shipping</a>, April 15-17.</p> <h2>Orange Leaf</h2> <p>Fill a <a href="">cup with frozen yogurt</a> and toppings for $4.15.</p> <h2>Sonic</h2> <p>Half price drinks and slushes.</p> <h2>White Castle</h2> <p>15% off order <a href="">with this coupon</a>, good April 12 through April 15.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="2014 Tax Day Freebies and Discounts" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs discounts freebies tax day Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:34:56 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1135644 at The Only 5 Grocery Shopping Techniques You Need <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-grocery-shopping-techniques-you-need" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="grocery shopping" title="grocery shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Here's the excuse I hear most often for why people don't grocery shop frugally. Say it with me: &quot;I don't have time.&quot;</p> <p>Lack of time is not only the most common hurdle, it's also the easiest to overcome. The fact is, you can save money on groceries without spending more time shopping. In fact, you can probably cut down both the money you spend <em>and</em> the time you spend shopping, by changing one thing: your technique. (See also: <a href="">Save on Groceries With These Online Tools</a>)</p> <p>Maybe you didn't think picking up food for dinner as something that needed technique. You were wrong. There are dozens of techniques for filling the fridge, but some of them are better than others. Here are the five smartest.</p> <h2>1. Periodically &quot;Eat Down the House&quot;</h2> <p><strong>Why it's smart:</strong> Prevents food waste, which saves money. Keeps cupboards, fridge, and freezer uncluttered, which saves you from wasting time searching for things.</p> <p>This first technique doesn't actually involve stepping into a grocery store. Eating down the house simply means that you use up the food you have already purchased. Often people don't even know what they've got in their pantry or deep freeze. Take some time to take stock. Use your creativity to come up with some recipes making use of what you have &mdash; or consult a website like <a href="">SuperCook</a>, which tells you what you can make with what you have on hand. (See also: <a href="">Fancy Ways to Use Leftovers</a>)</p> <p>This technique will not only set the stage for future savings, but it will also save you time and money during the week you're doing it, because you simply won't have to go to the store (or only to pick up a few fresh supplements to what you have on hand).</p> <h2>2. Set a Budget and Stick to It</h2> <p><strong>Why it's smart:</strong> Like all self-improvement efforts, nothing succeeds like setting and working toward specific goals. Without a budget to measure against, shoppers have no idea whether they're shopping frugally or not. This also saves time because once you have figured out how many groceries you use in a typical week, you're more likely to get them all at once and not make multiple trips. (See also: <a href="">20+ Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill</a>)</p> <p>When I used to post my weekly grocery spending every single week, I got lots of comments from the peanut gallery. Some thought my budget &mdash; whether it was $80 a week or $120 &mdash; was too easy to attain, while others thought it was unrealistically low. The number you set as your weekly budget has absolutely nothing to do with what anyone else thinks. It's a goal for <em>you</em> to aim for each week.</p> <p>If you want to save money, first keep all your receipts to measure how much you spend on groceries for several weeks. Once you have a weekly average figured out, cut 5% from that amount. Practice for about a month to see if you can stay under that goal. If it feels easy, go ahead and cut it another 5%. Keep doing this until you get to a point where you still feel challenged, yet you're not feeling deprived. Don't forget to bank the savings!</p> <h2>3. Rotate Grocery Stores</h2> <p><strong>Why it's smart:</strong> The same items sell for wildly different prices at different stores on different weeks. By periodically visiting different stores, you can reap the savings of all stores without having to waste time visiting multiple stores each week.</p> <p>Each week, most stores will feature a few items that are out-and-out steals. And different types of store offer different types of savings. If you had unlimited time, you could visit multiple major chains and pick up their deals of the week, stock up on produce at a low-cost ethnic market, hit Aldi for everyday low-priced staples, and visit Costco for dog food and diapers. But at that point, shopping would be your full time job, and no matter how much you save, you can't save enough to make up for spending that much time.</p> <p>Instead, work all your favorite stores into a rotation. When the weekly grocery ads come out, look each one over and decide if the deals are compelling enough to make that store your destination this week. If so, stock up on the sale-priced items and enough other reasonably good deals to get you through the week. On weeks that the deals in the ads don't excite you, hit an everyday low prices store like Aldi or a warehouse store instead. (See also: <a href="">Things You Should Buy at Costco</a>)</p> <h2>4. Grab Discounts</h2> <p><strong>Why it's smart:</strong> Grocery discounts may seem like only a few cents here and there, but when looked at in terms of percentages, they can add up to a good 20% cost reduction. Spending 20% less is at least as good as getting a 20% return on investments &mdash; but savings are tax free.</p> <p>Beyond the regular advertised sales, there are lots of ways to get discounts on groceries if you keep your eyes open. Coupons are one way, of course. Also keep your eyes peeled for marked-down perishable goods; for instance my local Safeway puts out meat and deli items reduced 30% to 50% every day. Not all stores do this, but when you find one that does, work it into your regular rotation.</p> <p>Some stores offer discounts through online programs now. Safeway promises 20% or greater savings to users of its Just for U program, and personally I have saved even more by using it.</p> <h2>5. Combine Deals</h2> <p><strong>Why it's smart:</strong> Taking advantage of multiple promotions yields maximum savings.</p> <p>This is the most challenging part of grocery savings, but it can also be the most fun. Say you have a coupon for your kids' favorite cereal. The coupon only brings the price of the cereal down to match the store brand, so you might wonder if using coupons is even worthwhile. Well, it's not very worthwhile &mdash; if the item you're buying isn't also on sale. Hold onto that coupon for a week or two, until the cereal goes on sale, and then you're combining two deals &mdash; and likely beating the price of the store brand.</p> <p>Other ways to combine discounts is to look for Catalina promotions, which print out rewards after you make a purchase, or add a &quot;basket coupon,&quot; which takes money off when you spend a set amount on your whole purchase. When advanced bargain shoppers brag that they got groceries for free, or even made money on certain items, they're usually combining multiple deals.</p> <p><em>What's your smartest grocery shopping trick? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Only 5 Grocery Shopping Techniques You Need" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Shopping deals discounts groceries shopping Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:49:04 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1134464 at What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in April <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-buy-and-avoid-buying-in-april" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="easter basket" title="easter basket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For some, April is sunny skies and green grass. But in many parts of the US, there are all sorts of issues with the weather. Is it time to buy for summer, or spring, or winter? Well, let's take a look at the bargains and budget busters that are in stores right now.</p> <h2>First, What to Buy&hellip;</h2> <p>Well, most people have done their taxes by now (if you haven't, you better get cracking!). If you have a refund, here are some items that will give you more bang for your buck. (See also: <a href="">50 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund</a>)</p> <h3>1. Xbox One, FINALLY!</h3> <p>If you've been biding your time waiting for the latest gaming system from Microsoft, you can start shopping. The price of the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CMQTVUA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">Xbox One</a> has dipped below $400 recently, and that means you can expect to see continuing discounts as retailers look to move their stock and start selling more Xbox One games. And with a discounted premier system comes further discounts on the Xbox 360. You may see prices as low as $100 for a bare bones system.</p> <h3>2. Easter Goodies</h3> <p>Easter Sunday this year is on April 20th. So for the first few weeks in April, you won't see any good deals on <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=488582011&amp;pf_rd_i=1267339011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1769320902&amp;pf_rd_r=0JAG0SGGBTK5XVQXXB0G&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-4&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">Easter candies</a> and other goodies. But the last week of April will be a great time to stock up on hugely discounted eggs, themed treats, cards, wrapping, and other festive stuff. If you have the storage space, stock up on non-perishable items now, like <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003688ZQE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">baskets</a>, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003B7Q5YY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">plastic eggs</a>, and filling material. It will save you big time next year. (See also: <a href="">Easter Baskets for Grown Men</a>)</p> <h3>3. Spring Fashions</h3> <p>As we mentioned in past posts, the stores are way ahead of us when it comes to seasonal fashions. That means big retailers are starting to discount their <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=1045024&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">spring clothing and fashions</a> in favor of summer stock. The beginning of April won't show you big discounts, but by the end you can expect deals of up to 40% off. And in May, you can see even bigger savings. Of course, the longer you wait, the less choice you'll have. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Spring Wardrobe</a>)</p> <h3>4. TVs, Electronics, and Gadgets</h3> <p>The end of the fiscal year for Japanese manufacturers is March 31st. That means new models will be coming out in April, and you can expect big discounts on last year's models. Expect to see <a href=";bbn=172659&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;pf_rd_i=1266092011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1721697062&amp;pf_rd_r=0W0F9XCZTD2SB0HJ6XKR&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;rh=i%3Aelectronics%2Cn%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A1266092011%2Cn%3A172659%2Cp_n_size_browse-bin%3A3578042011&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">big screen TVs</a> drop even lower (is that even possible?), and you will also score great deals on stereos, TVs, DVD players, <a href="">Blu-ray players</a> and more.</p> <h3>5. Snow Blowers and Other Winter Equipment</h3> <p>There may still be snow in the forecast for some of us, but winter is almost done. And that means stores are clearing out their inventory to make way for spring and summer stock. Get bargains on <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=snow%20shovel&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=n%3A228013%2Ck%3Asnow%20shovel&amp;sprefix=snow%20shovel%2Caps%2C222&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Dtools">snow shovels</a>, ice melters, snow blowers, snowball makers, sleds, and anything else needed when Jack Frost comes visiting.</p> <h3>6. Office Furniture</h3> <p>What is hot one year is not the next, and vice versa. Last year, it was wise to hold off on office furniture. This year, there are going to be more deals around. Once people start spending their tax refunds, they'll start looking at business purchases like <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=1063312&amp;pf_rd_i=1064954&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1648969162&amp;pf_rd_r=10X93ZXEDPT2N8555CP0&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-1&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">desks, chairs, and tables</a>. If you need to revamp your home office, or business, do it this month.</p> <h3>7. Car Parts and Accessories</h3> <p>It's a little too cold for most of us to get under the hood and do some improvements. Summer is a time for car care, and that's why you'll see incentives to start moving some of those <a href=";bbn=15690151&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1364933088&amp;rh=n%3A15684181%2Cn%3A!15690151%2Cn%3A15710351&amp;rnid=15690151&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">car parts</a> now. (See also: <a href="">Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Running Longer</a>)</p> <h3>8. Jewelry</h3> <p><a href="">Mother's Day</a> is Sunday, May 11th (unless you live in Britain, like my mum does &mdash; March 30th this year). The jewelers will be trying to part you from your hard earned cash with deals on <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=15371281&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">sparkling necklaces</a>, earrings, and brooches. If you wait too long, you'll be paying top dollar for the same items in May. Don't be one of those last minute shoppers; it will cost you.</p> <h2>And What to Avoid&hellip;</h2> <p>With the spring weather taunting you, you'll be tempted to spend big on the following items. Don't fall for the marketing. There are much better deals coming in a few months...</p> <h3>1. Laptops</h3> <p>Last year, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;keywords=laptop&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1364932953&amp;rh=n%3A565108%2Ck%3Alaptop&amp;rnid=2941120011&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">laptop computers</a> were in our April buy list. This year, avoid them. New processors and higher demand for more portable technology has not worked in the consumer's favor. Of course, everything is relative. The kind of laptop you can get today for $500 would have been three times that price just a few years ago. But it you're looking for deals, this is not your month.</p> <h3>2. Patio Furniture</h3> <p>Just like the grills, you'll see store displays featuring <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=553824&amp;pf_rd_i=2972638011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1520461282&amp;pf_rd_r=AF29F629F4D84519922E&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">patio furniture</a>, deck boxes, hose reels, and other outdoor gear. Again, wait a few months if you can. If you want to start enjoying the spring weather right now, you'll <a href="">find good deals on Craigslist</a> from people who are buying the new stuff right now and need to dump the old.</p> <h3>3. Vacuum Cleaners</h3> <p>April means that <a href="">it's time for spring cleaning</a>, and that means the tools needed to do those jobs are at full price, or very close to it. Wait a while, or pick up a decent used vacuum on Craigslist. June is officially the month for new models to come out, and so you'll start to see older model <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=510110&amp;pf_rd_i=510106&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1387548562&amp;pf_rd_r=38E51A446A3448599430&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-4&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy04-20">vacuums</a> and rug shampooers going on sale at that time.</p> <h3>4. Mattresses</h3> <p>The next big holiday on the calendar is Memorial Day, and that's when mattress companies like to put their wares on sale. So, if your bed is giving up the ghost, throw a few blankets and towels on the bed until Memorial Day comes around. Your wallet will thank you. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Mattresses</a>)</p> <p><em>Are you planning to make any big or small purchases this month? What's on your list?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in April" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping buying guide discounts shopping what to buy Wed, 02 Apr 2014 08:48:20 +0000 Paul Michael 971616 at 10 Costs You Should Always Negotiate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-costs-you-should-always-negotiate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="talking on phone" title="talking on phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Negotiating is a bit of a lost art in our society.</p> <p>Historically, nearly every kind of good or service was negotiable and subject to haggling when it came to finding a fair price. Today, prices are mostly set by sellers, and people are generally hesitant to question those who set them.</p> <p>But negotiating can still be a prudent thing to do, given the proper environment and a negotiable product. Even larger companies, particularly those that sell some kind of a monthly service, will negotiate, especially when it comes to either keeping or losing customers. (See also: <a href="">How to Negotiate With Confidence</a>)</p> <p>As the customer, the power is in your hands as long as you've got money to spend. For most companies, they'd rather you spend it with them instead of somewhere else, even if it means they sell you something at a reduced rate.</p> <p>To increase your chances of successful negotiations, here are a few products and services that can be negotiation-friendly if you're willing to haggle.</p> <h2>1. Cable Bill</h2> <p>Where negotiating can really save you some money is when your promotional period runs out. You know, that six month period where your cable bill is reasonably cheap, then out of nowhere it skyrockets.</p> <p>Almost without fail, you can call and simply be honest about how you feel. You can tell them, &quot;I feel like this is just way too high a price for my cable bill.&quot;</p> <p>At that point, they'll at least get you on another promotional plan, and they may also work with you to figure out what aspects of your service you're not using that you could eliminate to cut down the price. If you need to kick it up a notch, just tell them you're thinking about switching providers, and they'll bend over backwards to keep you.</p> <h2>2. Medical Bills</h2> <p>By the time you have a patient, a hospital, and a third-party insurance company involved in the payment of medical care, the waters can get pretty murky.</p> <p>That's frustrating, but it can also work to your advantage if you feel like your bill is too high. Make sure you know at least the basic ins and outs of your insurance plan, because insurance companies and hospitals will frequently make mistakes when processing your claims and bills.</p> <p>A few annoying phone calls can either get your bill reduced, or get your insurance company to cover a bigger chunk. (See also: <a href="">What to Do If You Get a Huge Medical Bill</a>)</p> <h2>3. Gym Memberships</h2> <p>With Planet Fitness now charging <a href="">only $10 a month</a> for memberships, they've increased the competitiveness across the board.</p> <p>So if the gym in your area doesn't offer a plan that low, you can always cite Planet Fitness as comparable rate. You might also be able to negotiate over what features of the gym you want to pay for. For example, some gyms have pools that come with the standard membership. If you don't want to use the pool, see if you can exclude it from your plan for a cheaper price.</p> <h2>4. Rent</h2> <p>The rental market fluctuates like any other, but there aren't many set rules or standards for what rent should cost. That means in most situations, you can negotiate a better price or at least get the owner to cover something like water or Internet expenses.</p> <p>It'll depend on the personality of whoever you're dealing with, but a good approach might be to tell them you can only afford a certain amount per month and see if they will work with you. (See also: <a href="">Haggle Your Way to Cheaper Rent</a>)</p> <h2>5. Trash and Recycling</h2> <p>A lot of private trash companies, like the ones hired by homeowner associations, will bill you a flat rate once a year. What most people don't realize is that many of those same companies are in charge of snow removal.</p> <p>If you've been subject to a mild winter without the need for snow plowing, get in touch with the head of your HOA and see if you can get your bill reduced. It'll go better if you bring it up before you get the bill in the mail.</p> <h2>6. Paint</h2> <p>OK, this is not <em>exactly</em> an example of negotiating &mdash; it's more an example of asking, but it's such a great deal, I wanted to include it. Any place that sells paint will have a lot of returns and mis-tints to deal with. Sometimes they'll put them back on the shelf at a discounted price, but if you're not super picky about the color, ask for them specifically.</p> <p>You can often get this paint at a pretty steep discount, sometimes up to 75% off.</p> <h2>7. Clothes</h2> <p>Keep an eye out for imperfections, and keep in mind that they don't have to be major ones. Any sort of defect can earn you a discount at the register. Most of the time clerks will be more likely to just give you the discount as opposed to going into detailed inspection of the item in question.</p> <h2>8. Yard Work or Landscaping</h2> <p>Large landscaping companies will often charge a lot for the work they do, so you're better off hiring an individual, or someone working for themselves who you can negotiate a price with. If they want the work bad enough, they'll give you a deal.</p> <h2>9. Car Insurance</h2> <p>The car insurance market is incredibly competitive, which means calling around to a few companies and giving them the chance to beat the &quot;other guy's&quot; price can turn into a bidding war for your monthly premium. Call around and jot down the price of each one, reporting the lowest rate to the next company you call. (See also: <a href="">Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for Car Insurance</a>)</p> <h2>10. Anything Used</h2> <p>If there were ever a time to work on your haggling skills, this is the time to do it. Be fair and make sure you can identify concrete reasons the used item should be cheaper. Any kind of scratch or visible imperfection should knock down the price.</p> <p>Consider that a lot of places overcharge for used items, so you shouldn't be shy about trying to get the price down.</p> <h2>Negotiating Can Still Work</h2> <p>Today, businesses are more standardized and prices seem to be always be fixed without room to move. It has made us feel like negotiating for our goods and services is no longer a viable or acceptable way to do business.</p> <p>In some cases, prices are set in stone and talking until your face is blue won't move them. But don't assume that's always the case. If you look for opportunities to get costs down, they will present themselves. At that point, a little dialogue can go a long way.</p> <p><em>What do you negotiate the price for? Let us know in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Costs You Should Always Negotiate" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living discounts haggle negotiate Wed, 26 Mar 2014 10:24:18 +0000 Mikey Rox 1132805 at How to Become One of Those "Lucky" People Who Scores Great Deals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-become-one-of-those-lucky-people-who-scores-great-deals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A friend recently commented that I have the best luck at getting deals and freebies.</p> <p>&quot;I don't think it's luck,&quot; I replied. &quot;I'm pretty sure it's genius.&quot;</p> <p>No one likes to admit their success is just luck, right? But it made me think. Is it possible to make your own luck when it comes to frugal living?</p> <p>I think it is. Here are my best 11 tricks for becoming a frugally lucky person and finding more than your share of deals and freebies. (See also: <a href="">How to Win Sweepstakes</a>)</p> <h2>1. Be Patient</h2> <p>You know how they say that if you want a dog, you should just wait, because eventually the right dog will come to you? I feel the same way about stuff. It may take years, but eventually, that end table or juice maker you need or want will probably turn up at a bargain price. (See also: <a href="">9 Easy Steps to Become More Patient</a>)</p> <p>This year I decided I wanted a record player. I started looking for them at rummage sales, but never found quite the right one. I considered just buying a new one, but I am way too cheap for that. So I waited. I even bought some brand new Beatles records on clearance and left them sitting on a shelf for the player that I hoped I'd find eventually.</p> <p>Within a week of buying those records, I saw the perfect record player &mdash; sitting on the curb! It was so new it had a USB port, and someone was just throwing it out. I'm using it to play my Beatles records right now, and it sounds great.</p> <p>Was this luck, or just having the patience to wait it out? Ask yourself this: How many times have you bought something new, only to find a much better deal on it a week later?</p> <h2>2. Be Constantly Vigilant</h2> <p>To a true bargain hunter, walking through a store or even down the street is like playing a video game. You have to always be on the lookout for treasure you can scoop up.</p> <p>If I have extra time, I will always pop into an unfamiliar store just to see if they might have a clearance shelf. If it turns out to be a store with good deals, it'll be on my list of places to check back often.</p> <h2>3. Be Assertive</h2> <p>It feels awkward to ask for a better deal &mdash; whether it's haggling over a used car or simply asking for a markdown on about-to-expire milk &mdash; but remember that the worst that anyone will say is &quot;no.&quot; I have found that most store employees are happy to help you save money if they can. (See also: <a href="">How to Negotiate With Confidence</a>)</p> <h2>4. Be Persistent</h2> <p>When I first joined <a href="">Freecycle</a>, I was able to easily get rid of stuff that had been cluttering up my house, but I didn't find anything I needed. Still, I kept my email subscription active, and I kept watching the offers. Eventually, items came up that interested me &mdash; but I wasn't the first to ask for them, and I didn't get them.</p> <p>I continued to stick with it, and over the years I have gratefully accepted a number of useful items, including a futon, a bike trailer, and, most recently, a new-to-me bicycle.</p> <h2>5. Use a Checklist</h2> <p>When I need something, I go through a number of steps before breaking down and paying full price for it. My checklist looks like this:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Ask for it on Freecycle</p> </li> <li> <p>Search Craigslist</p> </li> <li> <p>Compare prices</p> </li> <li> <p>Search for coupon codes</p> </li> <li> <p>Shop through Ebates</p> </li> </ul> <p>I rarely buy something without going through my checklist, and when I do, I usually regret it.</p> <h2>6. Stay Up to Date</h2> <p>Just as doctors must constantly read medical journals to keep their knowledge fresh, so must bargain hunters keep up with bargain blogs to know the latest trends. (What? Bargain hunting is a lot like performing surgery, don't you think?)</p> <p>Besides Wise Bread, I read <a href="">Money Saving Mom</a>, <a href="">Mashup Mom</a>, <a href=""></a>, and <a href="">Brad's Deals</a> to find out what's new in the bargain world &mdash; and simply to find hot deals.</p> <p>In addition to the field research mentioned in item two, I also interrogate fellow shoppers about their shopping experiences. When a friend rents a car, I want to know if they got a free upgrade, and if so, how. Some friends might be annoyed by questions about prices, but kindred spirits love sharing how they got a deal.</p> <h2>7. Try New Things</h2> <p>Once I had never heard of <a href="">Groupon</a> or <a href="">Ebates</a>, and now they are go-to sites in my deal hunting routine.</p> <p>Of course, the new thing you try won't always work out. When my husband and I were buying our first home back in 2001, we signed up for a new online real estate agency that promised to share its commission with buyers in the form of a 1% rebate. Not only did the company offer substandard service, but it ended up going out of business just before we closed our deal.</p> <p>My husband was not happy with me for making our first buying experience more difficult in pursuit of a one percent rebate. But in my defense, we <em>did</em> end up finding a great place to buy, and we got the rebate. It just turned out to be a huge hassle.</p> <h2>8. Embrace Serendipity</h2> <p>Many frugal shoppers believe in strictly sticking to a list. I try to enter a store with an open mind. A few months ago I went to Salvation Army in search of a curtain. I didn't find it &mdash; on that trip &mdash; but I did find a Batman bedspread for my son's bed. Every night when I tuck him in, he thanks me for that bedspread.</p> <h2>9. Be Creative</h2> <p>In the same vein, there are bargains that you have to think up a use for before recognizing them as bargains. My grandmother &mdash; a Depression baby &mdash; is particularly good at this. Think old tablecloths as Halloween costumes and <a href="">old tableware as bird feeders</a>. If only I were <em>really</em> crafty I could do much more in this area, but I do what I can. (See also: <a href="">Repurpose These Kitchen Cast-Offs Into Cool New Things</a>)</p> <h2>10. Be Shameless</h2> <p>A lot of people are embarrassed to pick something up off the curb or out of a trash can, or even buy something second hand. I am not, and I have benefited greatly from this lack of shame. I even dabbled in <a href="">freeganism</a> for the first time recently, finding some mostly good produce discarded outside my regular grocery store.</p> <p>Remember <a href="">George Costanza and the trashcan eclair</a>? When I was a schoolgirl, &quot;garbage picker&quot; was about the worst insult anyone could hurl. But I hope that environmental consciousness, the concept of upcycling, and shows like <a href="">American Pickers</a> have helped people get over this. If not, that's more treasures for those of us with no shame!</p> <h2>11. Have Fun With It</h2> <p>All the tips above are useless if you don't enjoy the thrill of the bargain hunt. This is not a list of virtues &mdash; to be honest, some of these habits make me extremely annoying to my family and friends. If you are strictly looking at a cost/benefit analysis, you may be better off spending your time studying investments or working overtime to earn more money than hunting for bargains.</p> <p>But if you feel like a million bucks when you discover that one gem that every other shopper passed by? If you love having a good hunting story attached to every piece of decor in your home? Then these tips should help you win more often.</p> <p>Now go forth and get winning!</p> <p><em>What makes you frugally lucky?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Become One of Those &quot;Lucky&quot; People Who Scores Great Deals" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Deals Freebies General Tips discounts finding deals frugal luck haggling Tue, 25 Mar 2014 10:36:18 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1132808 at The 8 Best Places to Find Deals at the Mall <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-8-best-places-to-find-deals-at-the-mall" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping malls. Some are shrines to over-indulgence. Some will have you emptying your bank account faster than you can say &quot;charge.&quot; And others, well, don't even go within 100 feet of them if you're planning to save money. In my hometown of Denver, that would be Cherry Creek mall. Very beautiful, very extravagant, and not one bargain anywhere within its luxurious walls. (See also: <a href="">17 Places to Get Discount Designer Clothing</a>)</p> <p>But other malls, especially outlet malls, can be goldmines of savings. And if you know where (and when) to shop within the mall, you can stretch your dollars considerably further. Here are the eight best places to find deals at your local mall.</p> <h2>1. Jewelry: Claire's and Icing</h2> <p>If you have girls, especially between the ages of 7 and 14, then Claire's and Icing can save you a ton of money on jewelry. True, it's not exactly the best quality, but the tastes of teenage girls change with the wind anyway. These stores constantly have deals running, including BOGO and Buy 2, Get 1 Free. And they don't just do deals on jewelry. You'll find bargains on purses, makeup, key rings, chap sticks, and more. It's paradise for young girls, and a money saver for adults. (See also: <a href="">Where to Find Inexpensive Accessories</a>)</p> <h2>2. Clothing: H&amp;M</h2> <p>Hopefully your mall contains an H&amp;M. Some don't, and that's a real shame. H&amp;M prices run from fair to &quot;that's incredible, how do they even stay in business?!&quot; The thing about H&amp;M is that it's both fashionable and affordable &mdash; two words that very rarely go together. They have major celebrities wearing and advertising their clothes, and if you hit the sales, you'll find these items for silly money. Jeans for less than $10, T-shirts for $5. You really can't go wrong.</p> <h2>3. Shoes: Payless Shoesource</h2> <p>I preface this with a note on quality. Many people will tell you that the shoes at Payless are crap. Sorry to be blunt, but that's what it basically boils down to. But to be honest, I've had hiking boots from Payless that I bought at the same time as a much more expensive pair from REI, and both have lasted well. I think the higher-priced boots are more comfortable, but many of the shoes sold in Payless are made in the same factories that churn out the expensive brands. You can also buy Airwalk shoes in Payless. Yes, if you want the latest and greatest fashions, and high-end brand names, this is not the store for you. But if you need shoes for the kiddos who are growing like weeds, and will be in another size in six months, there are plenty of choices here. (See also: <a href="">Try Frye for Stylish Shoes That Last</a>)</p> <h2>4. A Bit of Everything: Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls</h2> <p>When you want some cheap clothes, bargain watches, cookware, bedding, shoes, suitcases, electronics, and kitchen gadgets all under one roof, these stores are great. The stock is name brand, but is often what the industry calls &quot;factory seconds.&quot; They are flawed in some way, but these ways are usually unnoticeable to anyone but a trained eye. That means a slightly incorrect logo placement, stitching irregularities, or even the tiniest of blemishes. For this, you'll pay as much as 90% less than retail. You may also get last year's fashions or discontinued stock. But if you don't care (and how many of us do?) this is a great place to shop and save.</p> <h2>5. Video Games: Game Stop and Game Zone</h2> <p>When you head to these stores, don't go for the brand new games. They cannot offer them at good prices, and they will most likely be cheaper online. Instead, look through the used games, and better still, the bargain buckets. Here, you'll find games that have been hugely discounted. It's not uncommon to pick up games for the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3 for less than $5. Sadly, these stores have not carried the original Xbox games for quite some time, but you can still find them at independent retailers for as little as $2. They also take trades, so you can walk out with games without spending any money. (See also: <a href="">Cheap Ways to Play Video Games</a>)</p> <h2>6. Sunglasses: Kiosks</h2> <p>Every mall you go to will usually have small kiosks set up in the aisles. They will be selling everything from skin care products to cuddly toys and wallets. One thing to look out for is the sunglasses kiosk. This will have copies of popular styles at a fraction of the price. They are not counterfeit; they are simply mimicking expensive brands but without the high price tag. What you should know is this: over 80% of sunglasses in the world <a href="">are made by one company</a> &mdash; Luxottica. And almost every pair of sunglasses comes with UV protection. So while you may feel better spending $250 on a pair of designer sunglasses, remember that for ten times less you can get two good-looking pairs that will shield your eyes from the sun just as well.</p> <h2>7. Fragrances: Perfumania and Other Fragrance Outlets</h2> <p>When you want to stock up on fragrances for friends, family, or yourself, don't forget to look in stores like <a href="">Perfumania</a>. They almost always have good deals running, like BOGO, or BOGO 50%. They will also bundle deals, giving you fragrance sets that include shower gels, lotions, and even nightgowns; and they have a decent clearance section, where last year's hot fragrances are this year's hot bargains. Just be warned &mdash; the scent can be a little overpowering.</p> <h2>8. Kitchen Items: Kitchen Collection</h2> <p>If you have specific kitchen items you need, pop into a store like <a href="">Kitchen Collection</a>. It's considered an outlet store, but the goods offered within are great quality at excellent prices. Brands on offer include Cuisinart, Farberware, Black &amp; Decker, Keurig, KitchenAid, Ninja, Paula Deen, Waring Pro, and Sunbeam. There are gadgets and gizmos covering the walls and the aisles, and the clearance sections can be eye-opening. Expect to pay 50% less for your top-end items than you would in the department stores across the way.</p> <p><em>Do you have a secret mall shopping tip that always brings you the best deals? Let us know all about it. </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 8 Best Places to Find Deals at the Mall" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Deals Shopping Buying Guides deals discounts shopping shopping mall Tue, 18 Mar 2014 09:48:29 +0000 Paul Michael 1130834 at 10 Places to Find Cheap, Good-Looking New Furniture <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-places-to-find-cheap-good-looking-new-furniture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="furniture store" title="furniture store" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Finding affordable furniture doesn't mean you are relegated to college dorm decor or dumpster diving. Besides thrift stores, Craigslist, and garage sales, cheap-yet-attractive retail options do exist if you know where to look. Here are some great places to score some stylish furniture on a budget. (See also: <a href="">How to Save on Patio Furniture</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cost Plus World Market</h2> <p><a href="">Cost Plus World Market</a>, which originally got its name from selling items at cost plus 10%, now has 250 locations and an online site selling a collection of home items from around the world at extremely economical prices. World Market's eclectic furniture choices include many decorative fabric chairs for under $300, sofa options for under $600, and tufted upholstered beds under $500. Most products are made of solid wood and quality fabrics, and the site provides helpful running commentary from online reviewers.</p> <h2>2. IKEA</h2> <p>No frugal furniture list would be complete without a reference to <a href="">IKEA</a>. IKEA has some of the cheapest furniture around, and while it's true this is often due to things like particle board construction, there are a number of IKEA finds that even designers use as high-end substitutes. Check out the super affordable chairs and sofas from the EKTORP line, which start as low as $250 and whose white slipcovers make for a great spa feel. You can also score a good-looking KIVIK chaise for $350 in a variety of colors, while the AINA curtains rival more lux Belgian linen draperies. (See also: <a href="">DIY Curtains</a>)</p> <h2>3. Wayfair</h2> <p>With over 11,000 brands, <a href="">Wayfair</a> has an overwhelming number of home furnishing options available on its site. Furniture ranges from the extremely cheap to the high-end name brands, most of which are then discounted well below the original list price. Many pieces also include free shipping, which can save hundreds of dollars over other furniture retailers. <a href=";offerid=223073.10007155&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0">Walmart</a> also sells some Wayfair furniture on its site, too.</p> <h2>4. Pier 1</h2> <p><a href="">Pier 1 Imports</a> offers some furniture with flair at very reasonable price points. Most items have a global artisan feel, and the in-store displays prove helpful in providing inspiration for your furniture finds. You can now also order online and have items delivered or choose free next-day pickup at a store location. Some of my favorites are their collections of <a href=",default,sc.html?cgid=fabric-chairs&amp;nav=left">affordable upholstered chairs</a>, which always make a statement with unique fabrics and eye-catching designs.</p> <h2>5. Overstock</h2> <p>Finding 20% or more savings on great pieces of furniture makes <a href="">Overstock</a> worth a look. A vast furniture inventory and everyday free shipping on items over $50 (including the big stuff) also helps. Some of the more economical furniture buys may require some assembly, but the savings can help justify the labor involved. Overstock often runs additional sales on already reduced items for even more bargain shopping.</p> <h2>6. Home Decorators</h2> <p>If you've ever received one of <a href="">Home Decorators'</a> catalogs, you know they sell a variety of well-priced furniture items and rugs. It's also one of the few places online where you can customize fabrics and colors for fairly affordable prices. While durability can be questionable at times, a collection of product reviews is available to help you make your purchase. Make sure to check their outlet section and various sales events, too. I have had great luck with many items, including some custom upholstered dining chairs for $150, a hall tree from the outlet for under $100, and a handsome French-inspired settee for around $300.</p> <h2>7. West Elm</h2> <p>As the more affordable sister store to Pottery Barn, <a href="">West Elm</a>'s furniture is best known for small-space living and clean lines with a modern touch. Their Emmerson Collection boasts a rustic look for modern or industrial spaces, while their Mid-Century Collection provides a '50s vibe. Price points are not necessarily rock bottom, but you can score some nice pieces for under $500. Check out their inspiration and ideas sections, or head into your local store for designer advice. (See also: <a href="">How to Live Large in a Small Space</a>)</p> <h2>8. One Kings Lane and Joss &amp; Main</h2> <p>Flash sale sites <a href="">One Kings Lane</a> and <a href="">Joss &amp; Main</a> carry some high-end brand furniture, vintage finds, and affordable furnishings at major savings (think as much as 50% or more). However, you are limited to what's available during the timed sale periods, which means you need to be patient and check back often if you are searching for a particular item. Like many flash sale sites, you'll need to register, and also beware to buy only what you truly are looking for. (See also: <a href="">Flash Sale Sites: Great Discounts&hellip;With a Price</a>)</p> <h2>9. Target</h2> <p>Don't rule out <a href=";fot=9999&amp;foc=1">Target</a> for finding some attractive and affordable furniture. The store is great for finding cheap, simple furniture items, like bookcases, tables, desks, dressers, and nightstands for under $150. Like many cheap furniture items, assembly may be required. You can also spiff up some of their relatively modest pieces by buying your own knobs, pulls, and other hardware to make for a unique look.</p> <h2>10. Big Lots</h2> <p>As one of the largest broadline closeout retailers, <a href="">Big Lots</a> offers some extremely discounted furniture. Shopping Big Lots is easy with over 1,400 stores nationwide and the ability to browse online. Microfiber sofas under $300, nightstands under $70 and majorly discounted Serta mattresses are just some of the extremely cheap furniture finds available.</p> <p><em>Where are some of your favorite places for cheap, good-looking furniture?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Places to Find Cheap, Good-Looking New Furniture" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Shopping deals discounts furniture Tue, 18 Mar 2014 09:24:09 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1130833 at 12 Loyalty Rewards Programs You Didn't Know Existed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-loyalty-rewards-programs-you-didnt-know-existed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="credit card" title="credit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've all heard of reward or loyalty programs for things like airlines, hotels, retailers, and restaurants, but there are also some other lesser-known places where you can rack up points for cash or goods. Check out the programs below, so you don't miss out. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>1. Upromise</h2> <p><a href="">Upromise</a>, which is owned by Sallie Mae, allows you to earn money towards college on your everyday spending at more than 800 online stores and thousands of supermarkets, drug stores, and restaurants. Members simply register their credit card to a Upromise account to earn 1%-25% cash back on qualified purchases. You can choose to invest your earnings in a savings account or 529 plan, or use your funds to pay down a student loan or other college expenses. (See also: <a href="">Upromise Review</a>)</p> <h2>2. Health Insurance Rewards</h2> <p>Check to see if your health plan offers specific reward programs. Depending on your plan, you can earn anything from gift certificates to out-of-pocket credits just by taking health assessments, participating in healthy living programs, or going on routine preventative visits. <a href="">HumanaVitality</a>, for example, even allows you to earn &quot;Vitality Bucks,&quot; which you can turn into movie tickets, hotel stays, or electronics at the HumanaVitality Mall.</p> <h2>3. Shopkick</h2> <p>Location based app <a href="">Shopkick</a> allows you to accumulate points (&quot;kicks&quot;) just for visiting many of the nation's top retailers, like Macy's, Old Navy, and Best Buy. Scanning items on your smartphone and making purchases can earn you even more points. Points can be redeemed for gift cards at your favorite stores.</p> <h2>4. Bing</h2> <p>You can earn rewards just for using <a href="">Bing</a> as your search engine. You can sign up using a Microsoft account that will automatically track your credits for each search. You can also earn by trying out new features, tips, and making Bing your homepage. Rewards include gift cards for popular brands like Starbucks, Amazon, and Xbox, as well as charities. You can even use rewards to get Skype credits.</p> <h2>5. Product Rewards</h2> <p>You may be familiar with <a href="">Coke</a> and <a href="">Pepsi's</a> reward programs, but you may not realize there are other brands where you can earn points for your purchases. Baby care brands, such as <a href="">Huggies</a>, <a href="">Pampers</a>, and <a href="">Earth's Best</a>, all allow you to earn points by entering product codes from your purchases to use towards things like free merchandise, gift cards, and other perks. Some other brand rewards programs include <a href="">Kellogg's</a>, <a href="">Lean Cuisine</a>, and <a href="">L'Oreal</a>. It's great to get rewarded for what you'd be buying anyway, but note that you need to take the time to manually enter your product codes in order to earn points.</p> <h2>6. Regal Cinemas</h2> <p>If you like going to the movies, don't forget to sign up for Regal Entertainment Group's theatre loyalty program, <a href="">Regal Crown Club</a>. This allows you to earn credits for box office and concession purchases, which you can redeem for free tickets, drinks, and popcorn at future visits. Considering Regal has the largest and most geographically diverse number of theaters in the U.S. (over 7,400 screens in 581 theatres), chances are there's a location near you. (See also: <a href="">Watch Movies in the Theater for Free</a>)</p> <h2>7. Rewards for Exercising</h2> <p>Most people don't realize they can actually earn rewards (other than fitness and weight loss) by exercising. Mobile apps, like <a href=";uo=4&amp;at=10lpjh">Everymove</a> and <a href="">Earndit</a>, which connect to popular fitness trackers, like Fitbit, RunKeeper and My Fitness Pal, allow you to earn points for going to the gym, exercising, or participating in fitness events. Rewards generally include fitness products and donations to charities. (See also: <a href="">Top 5 Strength Training Apps</a>)</p> <h2>8. Amex Twitter Sync</h2> <p><a href="">Amex Twitter Sync</a> is a twist from the traditional rewards approach. Apart from Amex Rewards, you can now sync your eligible Amex card with your Twitter account to earn savings rewards. The program requires members to Tweet special Amex deal hashtags, which then make them eligible for special savings upon purchase. Please note: Most Amex cards do come with annual fees.</p> <h2>9. StubHub</h2> <p>For those into sports, concerts, and events, <a href="">StubHub Fan Rewards</a> allows you to earn 2% in reward credits on every eligible StubHub ticket purchase. Reward credits are redeemed in $10 increments (called &quot;FanCodes&quot;) to be used on future StubHub purchases. Superstar status gets you 3% reward points, seat upgrades, and priority invitations.</p> <h2>10. Viggle</h2> <p><a href=";uo=4&amp;at=10lpjh">Viggle</a> is an app for iOS and Android where you can earn points for watching TV shows. You can check in through the app to register the shows you are watching and earn points for the amount of viewing time. While it takes a good number of points to reach rewards, which include gift cards to popular retailers, it's easy enough to make a few cents watching your shows.</p> <h2>11. Amtrak</h2> <p>We all know that you can earn rewards for airline travel, but many people forget that <a href="">Amtrak</a> also has a rewards program. All those business trips can easily earn you points if you sign up with the program. Amtrak even has an online shopping mall as an additional way to earn. Points can be redeemed for free Amtrak tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards at popular retailers.</p> <h2>12. Recyclebank</h2> <p>With <a href="">Recyclebank</a>, you can earn points on your weekly recycling pickup. The program works by teaming up with waste haulers to award points based on the weight of your recycling collection. You can also earn points by pledging green actions or taking tutorials on the site. Points can be used towards free magazines, grocery store credits, charities, and discounts at local stores, restaurants, and services.</p> <p><em>What are some of your preferred reward programs that others may not know about?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Loyalty Rewards Programs You Didn&#039;t Know Existed" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Deals and Coupons Consumer Affairs discounts loyalty programs rewards Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:24:14 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1129400 at What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in March <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-buy-and-avoid-buying-in-march" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman jumping" title="woman jumping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Right now, it may not feel like spring is approaching; many of us still have snow on our lawns and extra blankets on the bed. But, in a few months we'll be unpacking the shorts and light jackets, and getting ready to tune up the lawn mower. As always, stores are way ahead of consumers when it comes to stocking the shelves. They clear out products you want right now in favor of items you will soon need. But that makes for great bargains, if you know what to look for. (See also: <a href="">Wise Bread's Shopping Calendar</a>)</p> <h2>First, What to Buy&hellip;</h2> <p>There are plenty of awesome holidays this month. March 4th is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day in the UK). In the UK, Mother's Day is Sunday, March 30th. And we also have the spring equinox on March 20th. Let's take a look at some of the bargains that accompany them.</p> <h3>1. Chocolates, Chocolates, Chocolates</h3> <p>Something the stores never want hanging around are seasonal items, especially edible ones. Valentine's Day may be long gone, but the stores still have plenty of goodies on the shelves. And they want to get rid of it quickly! You'll see 90% savings on perfectly good <a href=";bbn=16322461&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1393616528&amp;rh=n%3A16310101%2Cn%3A!16310211%2Cn%3A16322461%2Cp_n_intended_use_browse-bin%3A2257371011&amp;rnid=2257345011&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">boxes of chocolates and other candies</a>, and all because they're in heart-shipped boxes and flowery red packaging. It's silly, but it's good for your wallet. (See also: <a href="">15 Reasons to Eat More Chocolate</a>)</p> <h3>2. Frozen Foods</h3> <p>March is National Frozen Foods month. Who knew? That means you'll see a ton of great coupons in the circulars and discounts in stores. If you have space in your freezer, now is the time to use it up. Or grab yourself a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001CWDZYI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">cheap freezer</a> off Craigslist and stock it up! Remember, these foods can last a year or more, but the deals don't ever last that long. (See also: <a href="">Make-Ahead, Freezable Hot Breakfasts</a>)</p> <h3>3. Intel-Based Laptops</h3> <p>If you need a new laptop for school, college, the workplace, or just to have around the house, now is the time to check out deals on Intel-based laptops. Now, there are several types of Intel processors, from the older Ivy Bridge and <a href=";bbn=565108&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1393617812&amp;rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A541966%2Cn%3A565108%2Cp_75%3A20-%2Cp_n_feature_four_browse-bin%3A1264444011&amp;rnid=676578011&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">Celeron</a> models, to the newer Haswell versions. Strangely enough, the better deals seem to be on the <a href=";bbn=565108&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1393617812&amp;rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A541966%2Cn%3A565108%2Cp_75%3A20-%2Cp_n_feature_four_browse-bin%3A1264444011&amp;rnid=676578011&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">Haswells</a>, so if you have $500 to spend, you can get a fast and reliable Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, or Sony laptop with a Haswell Core i5 or Core i7 processor.</p> <h3>4. Big Screen TVs</h3> <p>It won't be too long before <a href=";bbn=6459736011&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1393618062&amp;rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A1266092011%2Cn%3A172659%2Cn%3A6459736011%2Cp_n_size_browse-bin%3A3578041011&amp;rnid=1232878011&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">42&quot; LCD TVs</a> are given away free with boxes of cereal. Seriously, every year big screen TVs get cheaper and cheaper. A few years ago, a <a href=";bbn=6459736011&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;qid=1393618062&amp;rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A1266092011%2Cn%3A172659%2Cn%3A6459736011%2Cp_n_size_browse-bin%3A3578041011&amp;rnid=1232878011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">60&quot; 1080p LCD TV</a> would have set you back a few thousand dollars. This year, you will get change out of $800. And those <a href=";bbn=172659&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;pf_rd_i=1266092011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1737263342&amp;pf_rd_r=1MYVBWR356V9CBB81KHK&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-3&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;rh=i%3Aelectronics%2Cn%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A1266092011%2Cn%3A172659%2Cp_n_feature_keywords_three_browse-bin%3A7688788011%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">4K TVs</a> are also going to drop in price, too. If you have plans for a home theater, this is a great month to buy, especially if you're expecting a tax refund.</p> <h3>5. Luggage</h3> <p>Now's the time to stock up on travel gear. If past performance is any indication of how things will go this year, <a href=";bbn=172659&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;pf_rd_i=1266092011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1737263342&amp;pf_rd_r=1MYVBWR356V9CBB81KHK&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-3&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;rh=i%3Aelectronics%2Cn%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A1266092011%2Cn%3A172659%2Cp_n_feature_keywords_three_browse-bin%3A7688788011%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A!493964&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">luggage and baggage deals</a> kick into high gear in March. New luggage models (do people really care about the trendiness of their suitcases?) come out now, so old models are priced to move. From retail stores like Sears and Walmart to online retailers like eBags and Amazon, you should find yourself some sweet bargains. Hopefully, flights will be just as good to you. (See also: <a href="">Packing Secrets From a Pro Traveler</a>)</p> <h3>6. Snow Gear</h3> <p>If you like fresh powder, there's still time to enjoy it while wearing some <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=6443707011&amp;pf_rd_i=1036592&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1714561622&amp;pf_rd_r=100MKAQG0588ZYM9282P&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-8&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">snazzy new gear</a>&hellip;and it doesn't have to cost full price. Just like last month, there are deals to be had on those big winter jackets, snow boots, hats, and all sorts of other stuff designed to keep the icy weather at bay. These deals won't last too much longer, so grab them now.</p> <h3>7. St. Patrick's Day Merchandise</h3> <p>Once again, the green beers will be flowing on March 17th &mdash; St. Patrick's Day. And as soon as the sun sets on the 17th, the stores start discounting <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=6361262011&amp;pf_rd_i=507846&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1740538522&amp;pf_rd_r=1MB94V0H98599B98XPAX&amp;pf_rd_s=right-csm-1&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">St. Paddy's Day merchandise</a> with a determination that would make the Little Engine That Could jealous. In the past, Target has quickly and massively discounted the green gear. Remember, until the 17th you won't see many deals, but after then you can scoop up the bargains and stock up for next year.&nbsp;(See also: <a href="">Ways to Serve Potatoes on St. Patrick's Day</a>)</p> <h3>8. Amazon Prime&nbsp;</h3> <p>If you've been debating an <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DBYBNEE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">Amazon Prime</a> membership, now could be the best time to jump on it. Over the past year, changes have been made to Amazon Prime that have made it less of a deal than it used to be. For instance, the change to &quot;add on items,&quot; which were once free to ship with Prime, but are now only shipped free if included with an order that brings your total over $25. Rumors have it that Amazon is going to hike the rates by 50% or more. Get in now, and enjoy free two-day shipping and a massive library of free TV and Movies to stream whenever you want.</p> <h3>9. Seeds and Plants</h3> <p>Of course, with frost and hard ground to contend with, you won't be planting a whole lot right now. But you can order what you need now and save 50% or more on <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=3480662011&amp;pf_rd_i=2972638011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1715557162&amp;pf_rd_r=01NXSG4MF9P76MRC1ZN5&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-1&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">seeds</a> that will make your garden grow. (See also: <a href="">Guide to Container Gardening</a>)</p> <h3>10. Silverware and China</h3> <p>Wedding season is not until June. Christmas is over. The stores want to get some of their silverware and china stock cleared. If your <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=13162311&amp;pf_rd_i=1055398&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1685437002&amp;pf_rd_r=1EPWRPMZ4CHPZGWSA50J&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-4&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">plates, bowls and cutlery</a> are looking a little past their prime, now is a great time to refresh them all. And remember, the old ones can be donated to charity for a family that really needs them.</p> <h2>What to Avoid&hellip;</h2> <p>There's a lot of flimflam in March too. It starts at the beginning of the month with Oscar Night 2014, and let's not forget Daylight Savings Time on March 9th &mdash; one hour of sleep lost, one extra pot of coffee on Sunday. Let's see what we should be looking to avoid this month.</p> <h3>1. Sexy Lingerie</h3> <p>It's not the same as candy; <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=14333511&amp;pf_rd_i=1040660&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1740541382&amp;pf_rd_r=01Y3ZE0BQEDWEG6FAM9S&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">lingerie</a> is lingerie, and it is still popular despite Valentine's Day being over for another year. When it comes to sales, most lingerie stores follow the lead of the biggest and most infamous &mdash; Victoria's Secret. And as their semi-annual sale is in June, you should hold off on your shopping until then.</p> <h3>2. Xbox One Systems and Games</h3> <p>The <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CMQTVUA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">Xbox One</a> is still a hot item, but the discounts are coming in April. Now that the rush is over for Christmas, and the big fans have already picked up their systems, sales are on the decline. Microsoft doesn't want to see the PS4 gaining any more market share, and the best way to combat that is with discounts. Keep your eyes peeled, but don't buy anything just yet.</p> <h3>3. Spring Apparel</h3> <p>Spring is not just around the corner. But the stores have a different story. They're stocking up for spring right now, and they have no plans to offer any kind of discounts just yet. <a href="">Spring gear</a> is still priced at or close to the recommended retail price. Wait a month or two, and those prices will come down just in time for you to get a month or two of good use out of everything you buy.</p> <h3>4. New Smartphones</h3> <p>The <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=2407748011&amp;pf_rd_i=2335752011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1716418262&amp;pf_rd_r=00XHABXX9A3H6TWYH2E3&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-6&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">latest models</a> are everywhere, and they're full price. By all means use this time to start looking around for models you'd like to have, but hold your horses. Give it a few months and those full price phones will start falling in price.</p> <h3>5. Gym Memberships</h3> <p>If you're a regular at the gym, you should have seen the New Year's rush die down by now. But, it's far from over yet. People are still trying to fulfill that <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=3408271&amp;pf_rd_i=3407731&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=1712840642&amp;pf_rd_r=1G6D6ZGAWBG8VVMNDYK6&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-5&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;tag=whattobuy03-20">resolution to get fit</a>, and gyms are not struggling to make their numbers. Wait a few more months. Once the sun is shining and people can run outdoors, they'll start hitting you with offers.</p> <p><em>Are you planning to make any purchases in March? Where are you finding deals?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in March" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Consumer Affairs Shopping buying guides deals discounts what to buy Mon, 03 Mar 2014 11:36:40 +0000 Paul Michael 968384 at 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-you-could-buy-at-costco" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping man" title="shopping man" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The first Costco location (then called Price Club) opened in 1976 inside a converted airplane hangar in San Diego, California. The original business model was to serve only businesses, offering bulk products at discounted prices. The company quickly realized it could increase its sales by offering memberships to a select group of non-business owners. (See also: <a href="">Things You Didn&rsquo;t Know You Could Buy in Bulk</a>)</p> <p>The early 1980s saw the boom of the warehouse club industry. In 1983, the first Costco warehouse store opened in Seattle, Washington and in that year, the company became the first ever to grow from zero to $3 billion in sales in under six years. As of November 2013, the company has over six hundred locations across the United States and boasts of over 71.2 million membership cardholders.</p> <p>The amazing part of the Costco story isn&#39;t just the rapid growth but the myriad of different products and services the company offers to its members. People think Costco and the first images which spring to mind are garbage can sized pickle jars and packages of enough bathroom tissue to TP the homes of the entire state of Maine. Sure, those products are available, along with window blinds, snow plows, and a chance to shake hands with author Mitch Albom. (See also: <a href="">Things You Should Buy at Costco</a>)</p> <p>As these benefits will prove, a Costco membership does have its privileges. Here are some things you might not expect to buy at Costco.</p> <h2>1. Cubicles</h2> <p>While most of the world hates the feeling of semi-confinement in half walls the cubicle could serve a purpose in the typical family home. Suppose mom or dad works from home and needs a designated office space but doesn&#39;t have an extra room to devote to a home office? Suppose the kids need a quiet and self-contained area to work on homework or other projects that cuts down on the distractions of television or other family members? Why not consider a <a href=";catalogId=10701&amp;langId=-1&amp;keyword=cubicle">home cubicle</a>?</p> <h2>2. Funeral Supplies</h2> <p>No one wants to plan a funeral, but sadly, it&#39;s a part of life. If you&#39;ve been lucky enough to avoid funeral planning in your life so far, you&#39;ve probably got little idea as to how expensive the entire ordeal can be. Between the casket, the flowers, and all the odds an ends, dying costs an incredible amount of money. The time constraints and mental anguish of burying a loved one also cause people to make quick, often costly, decisions just to get the entire ordeal over with. Though it is a bit morbid, planning ahead for a funeral is often the most cost effective plan, and it saves loved ones from the uncomfortable task once you&#39;ve kicked the bucket. Costco has an entire funeral section. Now you&#39;re just going to need to make room in the basement to store your casket. (See also: <a href="">Tech Tools for Planning Your Death</a>)</p> <h2>3. Autographed Books</h2> <p>Every Costco location offers a library of new and old books at discounted prices. There are titles to suit almost every bibliophile including hardcover, paperback, and even children&#39;s books. Many Costco locations even host author book readings and signings. Review this handy list of <a href="">upcoming author events</a> at various Costco locations across the United States to find out when your favorite author is visiting.</p> <h2>4. Cars</h2> <p>Costco doesn&#39;t have cars in their stores (at least none we know about), but they do offer an auto buying program to members. The Costco Auto Program is designed to save people time and hassle when buying a new or pre-owned car. It&#39;s pretty simple &mdash; members can submit a request via the <a href="">Costco Auto website</a>. Costco will search your specific area and direct you to one of the 3,000 participating dealers closest to your area. Choose your dealer, visit the lot, and choose the car you want. Show the dealer your Costco membership card, and you&#39;ll receive the special price. Costco attempts to eliminate the uncomfortable haggling that comes with buying a car. (See also: <a href="">Websites You Must Visit When Buying a New Car</a>)</p> <h2>5. Gym Memberships</h2> <p>Your local gym is offering deals on memberships but it feels as though there is always a catch. Sure, the rates are decent, but how does a person really know they&#39;re getting a deal? If they purchase a membership using their Costco card, they can be sure. Gym membership deals are available at an assortment of clubs and spas across the US. All a member has to do is purchase a gym membership through the Costco website, print out the certificate, and bring it to the participating gym with proper ID; and you&#39;ll be sweating it out on a treadmill in no time. (See also: <a href="">Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free</a>)</p> <h2>6. Snow Plows</h2> <p>The winter is always an unpredictable beast. One day it&#39;s unseasonably warm, and the next a foot of snow is dumped on your doorstep. Some areas of the United States get so much snow over the course of the year, it&#39;s much more cost effective (and easier on the back) to attach a snow plow to the truck and dig out the driveway. Anyone interested in a snow plow doesn&#39;t have to deal with a special vendor can just head on down to Costco. They even offer <a href=";catalogId=10701&amp;langId=-1&amp;keyword=snow+plow">plows for sale online</a>. Wouldn&#39;t it be ironic if the delivery of your snow plow was delayed because of snow?</p> <h2>7. Small Business Services</h2> <p>Are you looking to run your small business more efficiently? Why not get help from the place where you already buy a ton of your office supplies? Costco offers an <a href="">incredible assortment of services</a> to the small business owner almost as important as packages of bulk toilet paper. The services include merchant credit card processing, water delivery, business document set-up, health and dental plans, payroll services, and even 401(k) plans.</p> <h2>8. Vacation Packages</h2> <p>Sometimes a person needs a vacation just from planning a vacation. Hotel reservations, air travel bookings, and itinerary planning &mdash; vacation planning is best left to someone else. Why not Costco? Not only will they help <a href="">plan a vacation</a> and handle everything from air travel and car rental to hotel booking, theme park visits, and cruises; but Costco members receive a discount from participating destinations and resorts. They even have travel experts on call 24/7 to book your vacation at your own convenience. (See also: <a href="">How to Book a Vacation Package</a>)</p> <h2>9. $63,000 Engagement Rings</h2> <p>We knew that Costco carried jewelry, but we had no idea that not only did they offer engagement rings, <a href="">but a $63,000 engagement ring</a>. The ring is actually worth close to $93,000, but Costco members get the insane discount. We&#39;re not sure which will raise more eyebrows &mdash; the stunning ring, the actual and retail prices, or the fact it was purchased at discount warehouse store.</p> <h2>10. Emergency Food Kits</h2> <p>If the world has hopefully learned one lesson these past few years, it&#39;s that the entire Earth is at the will of Mother Nature. From tsunamis to superstorms to multiple feet of snow, it&#39;s important to be prepared in case of any emergency. The Costco website devotes an entire section to <a href="">emergency preparation</a>. This includes not only food and beverage options but first aid kits and powdered beverages. If you&#39;re really serious about prepping for the end of civilization (because you just never know), Costco offers deals on an entire <a href="">year of food rations</a> for four people and <a href=";cm_vc=itempageVerticalRight%7CCategorySiloedViewCP">a water storage system</a> because fresh water is key to survival.</p> <p><em>What surprising things have you found at your local Costco? Share with us in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You Probably Didn&#039;t Know You Could Buy at Costco" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Chris Illuminati</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping bargain shopping bulk shopping costco discounts Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:24:10 +0000 Chris Illuminati 1119563 at It Pays to Be Late: 7 Awesome Things You Can Get Cheaper at the Last Minute <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/it-pays-to-be-late-7-awesome-things-you-can-get-cheaper-at-the-last-minute" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="farmer&#039;s market" title="farmer&#039;s market" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&#39;m habitually running an hour or a day or a week behind. The upside of this chronic lateness is that I&#39;ve found that waiting until the last minute to buy things often leads to unexpected discounts. Here are some ways that the latecomer gets more deals than the early bird (and deals are better than worms, don&#39;t you think?). (See also: <a href="">16 Amazon Deal Hacks</a>)</p> <h2>1. Farmers Markets</h2> <p>Show up at a weekly fresh produce market in the last hour, and many vendors will be happy to make you a deal. Even if they don&#39;t change their signs, just ask: &quot;How much for all the peaches you have left?&quot; Nobody wants to load unsold produce back into the truck. (See also: <a href="">Fresh Fruits and Veggies by the Month</a>)</p> <h2>2. Garage Sales</h2> <p>It&#39;s 1 p.m. on a Saturday, and neighbors are starting to pack up their unsold goods and schedule charity pickups. It&#39;s the best time to wheel and deal &mdash; most people have by this point given up on making money and just want to avoid hauling the stuff back inside. (See also: <a href="">How to Turn Trash Into Cash</a>)</p> <h2>3. Rental Cars</h2> <p>Because <a href="">we don&#39;t own a car</a>, my family rents them several times a year for weekend getaways and such. I&#39;ve found that the best prices often come up on <a href=";offerid=215953.10000002&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0">Hotwire</a> or <a href="">Priceline</a> on the day before or even the day of the rental. At this point, the rental companies may know roughly how many cars they&#39;re going to have sitting idle, and they will release more to these cut-rate vendors. The rental companies themselves may also list last-minute specials on their sites.</p> <p>Of course, if you really need a car, you don&#39;t want to wait until the last minute and then find out that the last minute prices are sky-high. So I recommend making an early reservation at the best price you can find &mdash; search <a href=""></a> for good prices &mdash; as a back-up. If you don&#39;t select the &quot;pay in advance&quot; option, car reservations are generally non-binding for the customer.</p> <h2>4. Hotels</h2> <p>The same thing goes for hotel rooms &mdash; hit Hotwire, Priceline, or Orbitz at the last minute, but consider a backup conventional reservation. Just remember that many hotels charge cancellation fees if you cancel too late, so check their policy.</p> <p><a href=";fot=9999&amp;foc=1">Orbitz</a> is nice because its listings tell you how the price compares to &quot;usual&quot; prices. For instance, when I searched for a room in San Francisco for a weekday night, it told me that the $139 price it was quoting for the Kimpton Prescott hotel was 25% less than usual.</p> <p>You can also wrangle last-minute hotel deals by simply calling the front desk and asking for a discount. (See also: <a href="">Best Credit Cards for Budget Hotels</a>)</p> <h2>5. Flights</h2> <p>Last-minute flight deals are one of those bargain leprechauns that I have always heard about but never quite believed in. After all, when you book a flight, you&#39;ll notice that the prices trend higher and higher as the travel date approaches. And how many times have you boarded a plane recently with lots of empty seats?</p> <p>Well, in truth, you can never count on getting a last-minute bargain to a specific destination. But if you are flexible and keep your eyes open, you may be able to find last minute opportunities. Like with hotels and rental cars, you want to start with Priceline, Hotwire, and Orbitz. (See also: <a href="">How to Get the Lowest Price on Airfare</a>)</p> <p>Another place to look is the airline&#39;s home page. I registered on American Airlines and entered my prefered travel routes, SFO-ORD or OAK-MKE. When I logged in recently, it notified me that I could fly from San Francisco to Chicago and back for just $200, less than half the price on most other upcoming dates &mdash; but only if I left this Saturday and returned on Monday or Tuesday. You can also get last-minute deals emailed to you if you sign up with airlines and travel sites. And set up a fare alert on to let you know when a route you travel drops in price.</p> <p><a href="">USA Today</a> has two more tips for snagging last-minute deals. First, travel alone, because single cheap seats are easier to find than groups. Second, look for sites that cater to the region you&#39;re traveling to, like Airtech, which specializes in cheap flights to Hawaii.</p> <p>Finally, if you are heading to a vacation destination, try searching the sites of tour operators like <a href="">Apple Vacations</a> or <a href="">Funjet</a>. (See also: <a href="">Cheap International Vacation Destinations</a>)</p> <h2>6. Holiday and Seasonal Goods</h2> <p>Of course, the best deals on Christmas decor or Halloween costumes will come <em>after </em>the holiday, when retailers want to clear the shelves for the next season&#39;s merchandise. However, a lot of stores discount these things, say, 25% or 50% in the last week leading up to a holiday. If you aren&#39;t particular about what your Halloween costume will be, or if you can wait until the last couple days to wrap your Christmas presents, you can snag major discounts.</p> <p>Likewise, if you can wait until July 1 to buy a bathing suit or until January to buy a snowblower, you&#39;ll get a better deal than if you shopped ahead. Back-to-school clothes and supplies will be on clearance before the kids really need most of them.</p> <h2>7. Theater and Event Tickets</h2> <p>Tickets to the hit musical &quot;The Book of Mormon&quot; start at $125 in San Francisco &mdash; unless you show up two and a half hours before the performance and <a href="">get front row seats for $29 each</a>. OK, these are sold by lottery, so you&#39;re far from guaranteed to get in, but if you have the time to gamble, you can save a hundred bucks or more.</p> <p>Most cities have a ticket booth where you can line up to buy half-price tickets (plus a fee) for whatever show has empty seats that night. Some sports venues, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago, and performing arts venues as well sell cheap standing room only tickets on the day of the event. Finally, don&#39;t forget to look on Craigslist, where people with changed plans often unload tickets for cheap &mdash; just take some precautions <a href="">to avoid getting scammed</a>.</p> <p><em>What have you gotten a great deal on by waiting until the last minute to purchase?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="It Pays to Be Late: 7 Awesome Things You Can Get Cheaper at the Last Minute" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping deals discounts haggling last minute shopping Wed, 08 Jan 2014 11:37:20 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1101382 at 10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store (and 10 You Should) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-should-never-buy-at-the-dollar-store-and-10-you-should" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Who doesn&#39;t love a trip to the dollar store? You walk in with five bucks, and you walk out with a bag full of stuff. (See also: <a href="">Home Decorating for Under $5</a>)</p> <p>Of course, the stuff you have in that bag is going to vary in quality from good to &quot;Are you sure you want to take the risk?&quot; So I have compiled a top 10 list of things to buy, and 10 things to steer clear of.</p> <h2>What to Buy</h2> <p>Here are the items you should look out for every time you&#39;re at the dollar store.</p> <h3>1. Gift Wrap, Cards, and Party Supplies</h3> <p>What&#39;s the most depressing thing about buying gift-wrap? Personally, I hate spending $3-$4 on a roll of paper that is specifically designed to be seen for 10 seconds before it&#39;s ripped off and thrown in the trash. That&#39;s why I always get it from the dollar store. It&#39;s 75% cheaper, it looks just the same, and it&#39;s not so painful to see it get annihilated. While you&#39;re there, grab balloons, plates, cups, plastic cutlery, greeting cards, and anything else related to a birthday or anniversary. You&#39;ll save a ton of money over the years.</p> <h3>2. Glassware, Cups, and Mugs</h3> <p>There&#39;s a decent selection of glassware in most dollar stores, and they&#39;re perfectly safe for the home. They&#39;re not made of inferior glass that will shatter when you breathe on them. The glasses may not be the most current styles, and you may not get exactly the shape you were looking for. But if you&#39;re just looking to add a few glasses to your cupboard, your money goes a long way here. The same goes for cups and mugs. Again, don&#39;t expect a massive array of the latest styles. But they hold tea and coffee just fine.</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h3>3. Reusable Plastic Containers</h3> <p>It&#39;s often called Gladware, but that&#39;s a brand name. You can find these storage containers made by Betty Crocker, Ziploc, Rubbermaid, Tupperware, and many others. Your selection may not be that great in the dollar store, but you&#39;ll get a lot more containers for your cash.</p> <h3>4. Coloring Books, Crayons, and Kids&#39; Crafts</h3> <p>The prices of coloring books range from &quot;how much?!&quot; to &quot;seems reasonable.&quot; In the dollar store, however, they&#39;re as cheap as chips. And while you&#39;re there, stock up on crayons, pencils, erasers, pipe cleaners, colored paper, and glue sticks. (See also: <a href="">Budget Design Ideas for a Kids&rsquo; Playroom</a>)</p> <h3>5. Batteries</h3> <p>&quot;No way,&quot; I hear you cry! Well, yes way. Fine, dollar store batteries <a href="">aren&#39;t as good as the expensive, name brand batteries</a>. Dollar store batteries are usually older carbon-zinc technology, as opposed to alkaline or lithium. BUT, when you&#39;re paying $1 for a pack of 4 AA batteries, and the name-brand variety costs $5-$6, you are getting a better deal. So, they won&#39;t last as long, but they&#39;re at least 80% cheaper. If you don&#39;t mind replacing batteries more often (and checking often too, as some batteries will leak if left in too long) they&#39;ll do just fine; especially for those power-draining kids toys.</p> <h3>6. Holiday Decorations</h3> <p>Easter. Halloween. Christmas. Thanksgiving. If you can name a holiday, there are expensive decorations to buy. Luckily, your dollar store has a good stock of bargain decorations, and few people will know the difference. A word of warning though&hellip;avoid anything electrical (see the first point in the &quot;Do Not Buy&quot; list below). (See also: <a href="">Holiday Shopping at the Dollar Store</a>)</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h3>7. Most Cleaning Products</h3> <p>Bleach is bleach. Ammonia is ammonia. Glass cleaner is glass cleaner. Don&#39;t worry about paying 75% more for the name brand versions; just get down to your dollar store and stock up on the cleaning products you need at bargain prices. You may find some of the products are not as strong as the name brand versions, but just use a little more. At these prices, you can afford to. While you&#39;re in that aisle, pick up sponges, dishcloths, towels, and other cleaning products. (See also: <a href="">The 5 Best All-Purpose Cleaners</a>)</p> <h3>8. Personal Hygiene Items</h3> <p>Go ahead and spend a small fortune on those name brand shampoos, conditioners, shaving creams, deodorants, and toothpastes if you want. Cheap shampoos and conditioners often work as well as more-expensive ones. (See also: <a href="">Luxury Hair Treatments From Your Kitchen</a>)</p> <h3>9. Socks</h3> <p>Whether for the gym or daily wear, you&#39;ll find bargain socks in the dollar store. Just evaluate them as you would any other item of clothing. Some can be very thin and not offer the cushioning you&#39;d like.</p> <h3>10. Movie Theater Candy</h3> <p>Those boxes of candy they sell for an arm and a leg in the cinema are being sold in dollar stores, often at 2-for-1 prices. Stick to the name brands like Raisinets, Skittles, Jujyfruits, Whoppers, and Hot Tamales, and you&#39;ll do just fine. Of course, always check expiration dates on any food you buy. (See also: <a href="">A Quick Guide to Expiration Dates</a>)</p> <h2>10 Things to Avoid</h2> <p>From good value, we move to not so good. Or absolutely no way! Here are 10 things to put on your &quot;avoid at all costs&quot; list.</p> <h3>1. Anything With a Plug</h3> <p>There is no way of knowing if these items have met the minimum safety requirements, because the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) <a href="">safety seal is often counterfeited</a>. So although those night lights, extension cords, and other electrical &quot;bargains&quot; seem like a good deal, avoid them.</p> <h3>2. Food Storage Bags, Aluminum Foil, and Cling Wrap</h3> <p>You really do get what you pay for with these household staples. It may only be a buck for a box of bags, but look again. How many bags are you really getting? And will they hold a seal like the name brand bags you buy in grocery stores? As for cling wrap, it won&#39;t be of the same quality as the varieties you&#39;ll find in your supermarket. Expect it to be tricky to get off the roll, thin, and not very &quot;clingy&quot; at all. And the foil will be paper-thin and tear easily.</p> <h3>3. Kitchen Utensils</h3> <p>I speak from personal experience on this one. Way too many times have I been tempted to buy a spatula, can opener, or cooking knife from the dollar store. In my experience, they are not well made &mdash; especially when it comes to knives. Buy good quality knives, especially a <a href="">chef&#39;s knife</a>, and don&#39;t skimp on the price. If you get a quality knife, it can last you a lifetime.</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h3>4. Vitamins</h3> <p>If you&#39;ve looked at the prices of vitamins in your local grocery store or health food shop, you wouldn&#39;t be faulted for trying to find them cheaper elsewhere. However, the dollar store is not the place to look. Daily Finance cites a 2004 Consumer Reports study that says half of the 18 multivitamins they tested were <a href="">missing vital ingredients</a>. And the FDA does not have tight controls on vitamins. Bottom line&nbsp;&mdash; they probably won&#39;t hurt you, but you may be getting short-changed.</p> <h3>5. Toys</h3> <p>When your kids are involved, it&#39;s best to err on the side of caution. Many unbranded toys from the dollar store are low quality. What&#39;s more, they may not meet current safety regulations. You don&#39;t want to risk the safety of your child to save a few bucks. If money is an issue, shop the clearance aisles in retail stores, or look for good, used toys on Craigslist and second hand stores. (See also: <a href="">10 Fun, Homemade Toys and Games</a>)</p> <h3>6. Medicines</h3> <p>When it comes to your health, it&#39;s better to go with the name brand or generic items in the supermarkets and retail stores. Painkillers may be substandard, counterfeited, or lacking ingredients that the label claims they have. And one of the biggest problems is medicines like Ibuprofen have often gone past their expiration dates. Keep a watchful eye before you buy.</p> <h3>7. Oven Mitts</h3> <p>They&#39;re cheap, and they look the same as more expensive versions. The difference is in the construction and the padding, and you don&#39;t want to mess around with something designed to protect you. Do yourself (and your hands) a favor, and buy the more expensive versions. You&#39;ll be glad you did.</p> <h3>8. Soda</h3> <p>The one-liter bottles of soda in dollar stores are not really a bargain. You can usually pick up a two-liter of the same variety for just a few cents more at your local grocery store. And the same goes for cans and smaller bottles of soda, too. It&#39;s really not worth it. (See also: <a href="">Homemade Soda</a>)</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h3>9. Tools</h3> <p>Any DIY aficionado will tell you&nbsp;&mdash; a $1 screwdriver or hammer is going to break, and quickly. As someone who does a fair bit of DIY myself, I can tell you that tools are worth the investment. Don&#39;t go anywhere near the tool section in a dollar store; you are just throwing your money down the drain. And more importantly, <a href="">poorly made tools can be dangerous</a>. (See also: <a href="">Cool Tool Gifts for Fixer Uppers</a>)</p> <h3>10. Chewing Gum</h3> <p>There&#39;s nothing wrong with it, but it&#39;s just not a bargain. Go to a warehouse club like Costco or Sam&#39;s Club and you&#39;ll pick up a huge pack of gum and save way more money than you would buying gum from the dollar store.</p> <p><em>So, that&#39;s my list. 10 to try, 10 to avoid. Do you agree? Have you got other things you would add to either list? Let us know.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store (and 10 You Should)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping bargains deals discounts dollar store Wed, 08 Jan 2014 11:25:26 +0000 Paul Michael 1107270 at 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Buy in Bulk <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-buy-in-bulk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="groceries" title="groceries" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you think of buying in bulk, you think of the staple items that are often seen in Costco and Sam&#39;s Club. Canned food, packages of T-shirts, and laundry detergent are some of the &quot;no-brainers&quot; when it comes to buying bulk. (See also: <a href="">Bulk Buying Guide</a>)</p> <p>But what about some of the less obvious bulk items?</p> <p>Let&#39;s take a step back. Buying in bulk can happen one of two ways. First, you can go the traditional route and purchase from a bulk retailer like those mentioned above. Second, you can come across something that&#39;s so significantly marked down in price, that buying a lot of it makes more sense than buying a small amount.</p> <p>In order to come up with a few things that you didn&#39;t know you could buy in bulk, we&#39;ll consider items that pertain to both possibilities.</p> <h2>1. Gym Memberships</h2> <p>You&#39;ve got a couple different options here.</p> <p>First, most gyms will offer a discount if you sign up for a long time, say a two-year contract. This means that if you know you&#39;re a committed gym goer and will stick with it, you can get a better monthly rate by signing up for a longer period of time.</p> <p>Second, some gyms like Bally and Washington Sports Club offer discounts when multiple people sign up at once; so grab your friends and family and see if you can get a referral discount. (See also: <a href="">Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free</a>)</p> <h2>2. Cell Phone Plans</h2> <p>The cost of a family cell phone plan, once you divide it up among five or six people, is far and away cheaper than single plans.</p> <p>If you can get a few family members on board, dividing a bill up between five people means everyone pays somewhere around $30 to $50 a month depending on what kind of package you get.</p> <h2>3. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (CSA Subscription)</h2> <p>A lot of local farms and cooperatives will offer what&#39;s called a CSA subscription, or community supported agriculture. This is where you pay a monthly fee for a weekly supply of fresh fruits and veggies.</p> <p>Depending on the CSA, the price often comes out to be cheaper than buying the same amount at the grocery store (and even the farmers market) for comparable produce (usually organic). Plus, CSAs deliver. Not to mention you&#39;re supporting local farmers. (See also: <a href="">The 7-Step Food Budget</a>)</p> <h2>4. Toothbrushes</h2> <p>You can pick up a box of <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005MQJ8OQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">14 Colgate Premier toothbrushes on Amazon</a> for about $0.93 per brush. The deals can get even better if you want to go with a cheaper brush.</p> <h2>5. Beer</h2> <p>Beer isn&#39;t typically thought of as a bulk item, but places like Costco and Sam&#39;s Club carry lots of it, with significant savings.</p> <p>For roughly one dollar per bottle you can take home a 24-pack of your favorite brew. (See also: <a href="">10 Reasons to Drink Beer</a>)</p> <h2>6. Diapers on Amazon</h2> <p>If you&#39;ve got kids, Amazon is a place with which you might want to get cozy. Diapers can be bought in bulk for around $0.28 per unit, while the price of wipes tank to nearly $0.02 if you buy several hundred of them.</p> <h2>7. Building Supplies</h2> <p>If you&#39;re a contractor, or if you&#39;ve got a big home improvement project you&#39;re trying to buy for, <a href="">Lowes</a> sells building supplies in bulk at a discounted price, usually netting you a 10% to 20$ discount depending on what you&#39;re buying.</p> <p>This only works if you need a lot of supplies, but if you&#39;re putting an addition on or remodeling a kitchen, it might be something worth considering. (See also: <a href="">Home Renovations That Pay for Themselves</a>)</p> <h2>8. Meat, Poultry, and Fish</h2> <p>This one is contingent upon you having a little bit of freezer space.</p> <p>Assuming you do, buying meat in bulk from a local butcher, from a major retailer, or directly from the ranch can save you some money and a few trips to the grocery store.</p> <p>Wherever you get it, divide the meat up into preferred portion sizes and put it into freezer bags before you freeze it. Label everything with a date so you know when to use it by and stick it in your freezer. If you&#39;ve bought enough, you&#39;ll have meat for months to come, at a significant discount. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Freezers</a>)</p> <h2>9. Gift Cards</h2> <p>Costco will actually sell gift cards in bulk at a <a href="">discounted price</a>. For example, you can buy two $50 gift cards to California Pizza for $79.</p> <p>I&#39;m not totally sure how that works out for California Pizza, but it means you get $100 worth of food for around $80.</p> <h2>10. Paint</h2> <p>If you&#39;ve got major painting project on your hands, it&#39;s a good idea to go with the five-gallon tubs instead of the gallon options.</p> <p>You&#39;ll save some money here, and it never hurts to ask for mistints or returns of the five-gallon tubs. If you&#39;re looking for a basic off-white, you might be able to find something discounted beyond the bulk price, which is already going to be cheaper than buying single gallons.</p> <p>Additionally, if you don&#39;t plan to use it all, this can be a good item to go halfway with someone else and share the container.</p> <h2>Creative Bulk Purchases</h2> <p>In general, if you get creative and work up the guts to ask, a lot of the things you buy on a regular basis can be purchased in bulk. If you know you&#39;ll use the extra amount, it&#39;s a good idea to consider a bulk purchase, even if the item doesn&#39;t fit the profile of your &quot;typical&quot; Costco or Sam&#39;s Club showcase.</p> <p>Figure out what you use a lot of, and see if buying in bulk can save you a little money. If you find it cheap, load up for a makeshift bulk purchase.</p> <p>You can even go in with people for cooperative buys and share the item, like when people buy meat in bulk from a butcher. Having more people involved guarantees the extra goods will get used, and lets you save a few bucks on something that you would be buying anyway.</p> <p><em>Have you scored great deals on bulk purchases we don&#39;t normally think about? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You Didn&#039;t Know You Could Buy in Bulk" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping bargains Bulk buying discounts Wed, 08 Jan 2014 10:49:28 +0000 Mikey Rox 1107272 at Bulk Buying Basics: What to Buy, How to Store, and Money Saving Tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bulk-buying-basics-what-to-buy-how-to-store-and-money-saving-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bulk buying" title="bulk buying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you think about buying foods or other items in bulk, you might picture an underground bunker in some remote area with enough supplies to survive a zombie apocalypse. Bulk buying is no joke, however. If you have the space, stocking up can be an excellent, budget-friendly way to fill your shelves with foods and other items routinely needed in your daily life. (See also: <a href="">Organize Your Pantry and Save Cash</a>)</p> <p>As you can imagine, bulk buying is an art. It requires careful planning to achieve the best savings and lower risk for spoilage. When done right, this method of shopping can yield big returns on the investment of both time <em>and</em> money.</p> <h2>Bulk Benefits</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>If you&#39;ve ever scanned the unit prices on your favorite grocery items, you&#39;ve likely noticed that those in larger packaging/quantity <em>typically</em> cost less per unit than their smaller counterparts. In much the same way, those items in the bulk bins &mdash; sans packaging &mdash; are even less expensive in comparison. If you cook or use certain items more often than not, it&#39;s in your best interest to buy and buy big to yield the biggest savings. (See also: <a href="">15 Dollar-Wise Winter Staples</a>)</p> <p>Here are a few more benefits:</p> <ul> <li>Less packaging means less waste and is, therefore, a smarter environmental choice.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buying more at once saves on time and also gas and other related expenses.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Without conforming to pre-measured, packaged amounts of food, you are free to choose how much you need for yourself or your family. This scalability is smart for a number of reasons.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bulk buying also leads to healthier food choices. Many ingredients in those bins are whole foods, which are fantastic choices nutritionally.</li> </ul> <h2>What and Where to Buy</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Bulk foods and other goods can be found at your local grocery store, health specialty shops/cooperatives, online, and through bulk buying clubs (not to be confused with big box buying stores). If you haven&#39;t ventured into the bulk section in your store before, it&#39;s well worth a jaunt to see what&#39;s in all those tubs. Many of your favorite basic ingredients are well represented here. (See also: <a href="">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Grocery List</a>)</p> <h3>Pantry Items</h3> <ul> <li>Rice: white, brown, and just about every other variety</li> <li>Lentils</li> <li>Quinoa</li> <li>Oats: instant, rolled, steel-cut</li> <li>Nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.</li> <li>Nut butters</li> <li>Spices: from cinnamon to curry, nutmeg to smoked paprika</li> <li>Pasta, including couscous</li> <li>Dried fruits: apples, papayas, banana chips, dates, raisins, etc.</li> <li>Dried mushrooms</li> <li>Dried seaweed</li> <li>Sugars: white, brown, coconut, etc.</li> <li>Flours: white, wheat, rye, gluten-free, etc.</li> <li>Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, sesame, etc.</li> <li>Confectioneries: chocolate chips, among others</li> <li>Coffee and tea</li> <li>Cereal</li> <li>Maple syrup</li> <li>Oils: olive, canola, vegetable, sesame</li> <li>Vinegar: apple cider, white, etc.</li> <li>Honey</li> <li>Tomatoes: whole, diced, sauces, etc.</li> <li>Beans: kidney, black, chickpeas, etc.</li> <li>Soup stocks and broths</li> <li>Condiments: ketchup, mustard, hot sauce</li> </ul> <p>Note: You can also buy seasonable fruits and vegetables in bulk and then can, freeze, or otherwise preserve them for later consumption. Similarly, you can get great deals on frozen fruits and vegetables. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Use Frozen Vegetables</a>)</p> <h3>Non-Food Items</h3> <ul> <li>Aluminum foil</li> <li>Plastic wrap</li> <li>Sandwich bags</li> <li>Shampoo and conditioner</li> <li>Soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant</li> <li>Laundry detergent</li> <li>Toilet paper</li> <li>Paper towels</li> <li>Batteries</li> </ul> <p>...basically anything and everything you use on a daily basis that is either shelf stable (or lends well to preserving) can be purchased in bulk. We&#39;d love to hear what types of items you stock on a regular basis, so be sure to leave a comment below!</p> <p>Oh, and beware of big box stores, which are popular spots to find many of these items &mdash; they typically involve more packaging. As well, I did an informal price survey at my local joint, and I wasn&#39;t impressed with my findings. And if you haven&#39;t heard of those bulk buying clubs I mentioned above, ask around your local farmers market &mdash; or <a href="">start one</a> of your own.</p> <h2>How to Store</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>If you live in a tiny apartment or are otherwise short on space, you might be wondering about how to house all these items. I live in a modest home and we&#39;ve found a few creative solutions, including setting up a special pantry shelf in our basement, storing smaller quantities in clear Ball jars on some open kitchen shelving, and stocking frozen items in an upright freezer. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Freezers</a>)</p> <h3>Containers</h3> <p>Place items in safe containers. If you order items online or buy them at the store and they come in paper bags, consider switching over to either plastic or glass storage. This will eliminate the chance that the bag could tear or be tampered with (cats, dogs, mice, the neighbor kids). (See also: <a href="">Where to Find Free or Cheap Mason Jars</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Utilize all the options for sound storage. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, but be sure that whatever you use is airtight and uncompromised. The key with storing bulk foods is keeping them as fresh as possible. Protect your investment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Look beyond your favorite retailers for deals on storage containers. You can find great deals at discount dollar stores, online, or even at garage sales.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use a funnel to swiftly and cleanly transfer goods from larger to smaller containers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use old measuring cups and spoons (tablespoons are particularly handy!) as scoops.</li> </ul> <h3>Space</h3> <p>Consider installing a dedicated shelving unit in your kitchen or another room in your house specifically for housing bulk food items. (See also: <a href="">How to Live Large in a Small Space</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Designate one of the kitchen cupboards the &quot;bulk cupboard&quot; and store all your goods in there. Alternatively, create open shelving for storage of clear containers for an easy, grab-n-go experience.</li> <li>Use unique spaces, like under the bed or in the hallway closet, as creative storage when in a pinch. You can even create a <a href="">stairway pantry</a> with all that unused wall space!</li> <li>Find new uses for old items, like over-the-door shelving for shoes. If it holds stuff, it might be just what you need to organize your bulk empire.</li> <li>If you&#39;re lucky enough to have a pantry, clear it out and organize with bulk in mind. Containers should be in clear view, easy to reach, and out of harm&#39;s way (off the floor, away from where pets and toddlers can reach, etc.).</li> </ul> <h2>Other Bulky Considerations</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Now that you&#39;ve got the basics, here a few more tips to make it all go a little smoother.</p> <h3>Make a Plan (and Stick to It!)</h3> <p>It can be tempting to go overboard when presented with seemingly endless bulk buying options. Keep in mind that the only way you save is if you actually use up what you&#39;ve bought or it doesn&#39;t go to waste do to spoilage. (See also: <a href="">Recipe Substitutions That Prevent Food Waste</a>)</p> <h3>Bring Your Own (Reusable) Containers for Shopping</h3> <p>Many establishments charge for bulk jars (not so much bags). And while you&#39;re at it, be sure to mark the tare weight (that&#39;s the weight of the container) on your containers, so you&#39;re all set with that information come weigh-time.</p> <h3>Freeze It</h3> <p>To eliminate any possible pests, it&#39;s a good practice to freeze foods (especially grains, beans) for a day or two. I don&#39;t always follow this rule myself, but someone told me it keeps foods fresher, longer.</p> <h3>Mark Ingredients With Name and Date</h3> <p>All those grains can get confusing without packaging. Be sure to use a permanent marker and some labels/masking tape to stay organized and fresh.</p> <h3>Write Up Cooking Instructions and Stow in the Container</h3> <p>Along these same lines, you will likely forget how to cook black rice versus Israeli couscous &mdash; we write instructions on note cards stored in plastic baggies and toss them in with the ingredients for easy reference.</p> <h3>Create a Master List</h3> <p>A danger in buying a lot of something is forgetting you have it. To avoid spoilage or duplicate purchases a simple inventory list can be a lifesaver.</p> <h3>Plan Meals and Cook In</h3> <p>When buying in bulk, it&#39;s important to dedicate a certain amount of time into figuring out which recipes/meals they will eventually turn into. With so much fresh, healthy food on hand, you might want to cook more often rather than going out, further escalating the potential savings. All it takes is a little foresight (and a few good cookbooks). (See also: <a href="">A Month of Frugal Meals</a>)</p> <h3>Evaluate and Tweak as Necessary</h3> <p>It&#39;s good to keep those receipts and track your investment wisely. What items did you use up quickly? What ones did you forget? Were any ingredients unusually costly? Is there another place you might want to check out? Continually refining your process will help it work better each shopping trip.</p> <p><em>Are you a bulk buyer? What works for you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Bulk Buying Basics: What to Buy, How to Store, and Money Saving Tips" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Shopping Bulk buying discounts meal planning Mon, 30 Dec 2013 19:47:23 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1285 at 15 Things You Should Buy at Costco <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-things-you-should-buy-at-costco" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Warehouse stores are some of the best places to get a great deal &mdash; but you have to be smart about it! The number of people in your household, price, quality, and product longevity can all have a bearing on what items you decide to buy in bulk. Still, there are some clear deals when it comes to warehouse shopping. Here are 15 Items that are definitely worth buying at Costco, and will give you the most bang for your buck! (See also: <a href="">Frugal Rules to Follow When Shopping at Costco</a>)</p> <h2>1.Berries</h2> <p>In regular grocery stories, berries can be pricey. Costco usually has larger cartons for a fraction of the price. For example, get a 12 ounce container of blackberries for around $5.50, when you might get half as much at a regular grocery store for a similar price. (See also: <a href="">Guide to Choosing Fruits and Vegetables</a>)</p> <h2>2. Almonds</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Costco is definitely the place if you&#39;re looking for lots of raw almonds. Pay just 12 bucks for a 3 pound bag of raw almonds, which is much cheaper than stores who sell much less for a similar price. (See also: <a href="">The Best and Worst Nuts</a>)</p> <h2>3. Olive Oil</h2> <p>If you&#39;re not super picky about your olive oils, Costco carries a line of Kirkland Signature extra virgin olive oil that&#39;s actually pretty good (and actually EVOO, not like some other <a href="">brands that are impostors</a>), and runs $15 for a 2 liter bottle. Get your cooking on!</p> <h2>4. Soda (and Beer)</h2> <p>If you&#39;re a soda drinker, Costco is definitely the place to keep you stocked. Major brands sell 32 cans (that&#39;s more than five 6-packs) for $12-$13 which is way less than you&#39;d pay at a grocery store &mdash; or through a vending machine! With beer from Costco, you wind up with a case &mdash; four 6-packs &mdash; for what you&#39;d pay for three 6-packs everywhere else. Who doesn&#39;t want a free 6-pack? (See also: <a href="">How to Make Soda at Home</a>)</p> <h2>5. Soy and Almond Milk</h2> <p>Though usually they come in packs of three, it&#39;s definitely worth getting soy and almond milk (in any flavor) at Costco. These 3-packs sell for approximately 20% less per container than normal store prices.</p> <h2>6. Frozen Meals</h2> <p>Costco frozen meals usually come in packs of four and they carry a couple different brands. The varieties change, but the price in the four pack is usually at least a dollar cheaper than it would be to buy all four meals at a regular store. (See also: <a href="">15 Frugal, Single-Serving Freezer Meals</a>)</p> <h2>7. Rotisserie Chicken</h2> <p>The rotisserie chicken specials at Costco are out of this world! Depending on the time of year, Costco often runs chicken specials that will give you two chickens for $5, or give you a discount on the poundage. You can freeze the chicken, use the bones for a broth, or cut up pieces for sandwiches, salads and dinners. It&#39;s a steal! (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Use Rotisserie Chicken</a>)</p> <h2>8. Organic Chicken Broth and Boullion</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>A case of one-quart cartons of broth or a package of organic base lasts a long time in the pantry, so stocking up at Costco is definitely a good idea. You can get a 16 ounce jar of chicken boullion base for around $5, and six 32 ounce boxes of Kirkland organic chicken stock for around $14, which is a big savings on regular store prices.</p> <h2>9. Fresh Seafood</h2> <p>Every other weekend, there will be a booth at Costco selling fresh, low-cost seafood. Though seafood is usually fairly expensive, these deals can cut the cost of your seafood purchase considerably. For example, Costco routinely has mussels and clams in the $2 per pound range, which is a great deal! If you&#39;re throwing a dinner party, these seafood specials are a great way to bring some sophistication to your event without breaking the bank. (See also: <a href="">Affordable, Sustainable Seafood</a>)</p> <h2>10. Lunch</h2> <p>For $1.50, you can grab a full quarter pound all beef hot dog or Polish sausage and an extra large fountain drink, while loading up on Deli mustard and other toppings for free from the pump dispensers. You can also get a very large slice of pizza for $1.50, or grab a chicken bake, parfait, or salad from $2-$5. Get a big lunch, so you won&#39;t overspend when you&#39;re perusing the aisles!</p> <h2>11. Paper Products</h2> <p>Paper products like toilet paper and paper towels are a great Costco buy! Sure, you&#39;ll have to lug them home with you, but you&#39;ll get a lot more from your money buying these products in bulk.</p> <h2>12. Ink and Toner Cartridges</h2> <p>Provided you aren&#39;t switching printers anytime soon, it&#39;s a really good idea to buy a bundle of printer cartridges for your home printer at Costco. At an office supply store, ink can run you around $12 for just one. At Costco, you can usually get five for around $50. Not bad!</p> <h2>13. Kitchen Appliances</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Luxury and staple kitchen appliances alike can usually bought at a large discount at your local Costco, and this is especially true if there&#39;s a rebate or seasonal deal. For example, the Magic Bullet electric grinder, which usually costs about $60, was on sale for just $30 earlier in 2013. (See also: <a href="">5 Kitchen Luxuries That Are Worth It</a>)</p> <h2>14. Glass Storage Dishes</h2> <p>Get your multi-piece Pyrex storage sets from Costco, and you&#39;ll save a bundle from regular retailers. These sets usually last a long time, and have durable rubber tops for stacking and are around $30.</p> <h2>15. A Gym Membership</h2> <p>If you&#39;re cool paying for a year or two upfront, Costco is by far the best place to get a gym membership. For example, get a two year membership to 24 Hour Fitness for just $25 per month! That&#39;s way less than you&#39;d pay through the gym itself, and far cheaper than most comparable gym memberships.</p> <p><em>Costco is a great place to get a lot of specific deals. What are your favorite Costco deals?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Things You Should Buy at Costco" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Rebecca Leib</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Shopping bargains costco deals discounts Thu, 12 Dec 2013 00:48:58 +0000 Rebecca Leib 3674 at