Oprah and Adam
Photo: George Burns

I was so happy to hear from our editors that we were devoting an issue to the topic of good deals. I don't get as many of them as you might think. Such is life that people see my bank account before they see me—and for some reason assume that a person who has money isn't looking for a deal.

Quite the opposite. Because I've made every salary there is to make (starting with $100 a week at my first radio job, at the age of 16), I respect and understand the value of a dollar as well as the value of millions of dollars.

And for the record: I love a bargain.

Over the years I've bought cars and houses and lots of material goodness for my friends and family. I get a lot of pleasure from bringing pleasure, and I love using money to help others create a better life for themselves. But even the greatest gifts lose their value over time. I know for sure that the best deal is an investment in the things that will sustain your joy.

My best-ever deals are the ones that never lose their personal impact. Like deciding back in 1988 to skip taking a salary and embrace the risk of owning my own show instead. Or creating my own studio. Or building a school for girls in South Africa.

I've discovered that any deal that improves your life is a bargain, because life is all about getting better one day at a time. This requires paying attention to what really matters, and being alive to now. It does not require buying more stuff.

Not long ago I had an aha! moment on Rodeo Drive, riding in the car with Gayle and talking about all the fabulous things in the windows. I recognized that the real deal is to be able to see it, admire it, but not be seduced into acquiring more of what you don't need.

I've taken the advice O's creative director, Adam Glassman, offered in our March issue. Every time I buy one thing, I give away something else. I now have a box in my closet to collect the old every time I bring in something new. And when the box is full, I give away the contents to friends or women's shelters or Oprah's Closet at The Oprah Store in Chicago.

This new habit has put a frame around mindless spending—and allowed me to see what a great deal I have going on every day. Adding to my possessions doesn't fill my cup. Life is good without spending a dime.

More deals: 25 ways to save on everything from airfare to zucchini