money tips

Photo: Peter Rosa, Illustration: Julia Rothman

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Make Out Like a Bandit!

Our countdown of offbeat ways to save.

3 Things You Didn't Know You Could Buy Cheaply on eBay:

Gift cards. Marsha Collier, author of eBay for Dummies, says gift cards can frequently be found on the site for less than they're worth—at press time, we found a $400 Starbucks card for $320 and a $300 Kay Jewelers card for $235.

Spices. "I've gotten excellent deals on curry powder and saffron," Collier says; we also came across ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend that can be hard to find) and kaffir lime leaves for just $3.

Designer goods—if the seller spells it wrong. A search for "Chanel bag" will reveal many cutthroat auctions, while "Channel bag" may turn up less trafficked fare. (Just beware of scams—if it looks too good to be true, move on.)

2 Ways to Nab Books and Clothes for Less You can sell your gently used books to the legendary Portland, Oregon, bookseller for credit at its vast online store (or a decent cash payout)—and it'll pay to ship your old reads to its warehouse. This online consignment boutique lets you buy designer duds at deep discounts or trade something from your own closet instead. The selection has us floored: We recently found Dior sandals for $200, Marc Jacobs sunglasses for $75, and a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress for $35.

1 Marvelous Money-Saving Rule to Last You Your Whole Life Long

Create a 30-day list. When you want to buy anything nonessential, put it on the list and note the date. Tell yourself you won't buy it for 30 days—and stick to your guns. You'll soon find you buy a whole lot less.