You can search for the exact refrigerator model you want on PriceGrabber.com
, which will list online retailers by price, from lowest to highest (including shipping). When we searched for one particular refrigerator, prices ranged from $1,738 to $2,499!
CELL PHONE SERVICE: PREPAY
An unlimited prepaid monthly plan can cost about half of a traditional unlimited plan.
Another option: Upload an electronic version of your cell phone bill to BillShrink.com
(free) or MyValidas.com
($5). They'll analyze your usage and recommend more budget-friendly plans. The sites also point out where you're overpaying. For instance, you may not use your phone enough to need an unlimited plan and could save by selecting one with fewer minutes.
GADGETS: HIGH TECH FOR LOW PRICES
Print out the best deals at Amazon.com
, and Pricewatch.com
. If you find the same item at a store, say to the salesperson, "I'd rather buy it here, so can you match or beat this price?" If the answer is no, you already know where you can get a better bargain.
Have your eye on a digital camera or MP3 player? Ask the store manager when a newer model will be released (often October and November). Beforehand, companies tend to slash prices on the older models, or bundle the item with extras, like a free printer.
FURNITURE: TAKE A SEAT
The best time to buy furniture is typically the end of summer or early in the year, when retailers need to make room for new inventory.
RETAIL & FURNITURE: NEGOTIATING POWER
Ask to speak with a manager; they have the most power to negotiate with customers, says Jaclyn Hirschhaut of the American Home Furnishing Alliance in High Point, North Carolina. Every store is different, but you can usually haggle a price down by about 10 percent.
NEW CAR: DON'T SHOP THE SHOWROOM
Instead, call your local dealership and ask to speak with someone from the Internet sales department (they get paid on volume, not commission, so they need to sell lots of cars, not boost their profit on each one).
NEW CAR: VIRTUAL TESTDRIVE
Scope things out online as well. Check Edmunds.com
, where you can virtually search the inventory of local dealerships and compare prices, which can vary by thousands of dollars for the same model. The site's True Market feature factors in current incentives and cash-back rebates, including some that are not advertised.
USED CAR: FIND CHEAPER WHEELS IN THREE EASY STEPS
1. Check sites like AutoTrader.com
"Used-car dealers are trying to make a profit," says Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com
. "Private parties just want to turn their car into cash."
2. If you do go to a dealer, look for less-popular (and cheaper) hues like green, red, or yellow.
3. Get the car's vehicle identification number (VIN) and run a vehicle history report at CARFAX.com
FARMERS' MARKET: GO LATE IN THE DAY
For the deepest discounts, show up one hour before the market closes. (Farmers don't want to schlep a lot of unsold produce back home.)
FARMERS' MARKET: EAT YOUR (LEAFY) VEGGIES
Buy your corn from the farmer who sells only corn, and your greens from the farmer who grows only leafy veggies. "Farmers who specialize in one type of crop often have the best prices," says Avia Hawksworth, a forager for Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, California, "because they don't have to rotate multiple crops, which requires more acreage and extra labor."
DATE-NIGHT DINNERS: FEAST FOR LESS THAN A FORTUNE
Go to Restaurant.com
and enter your zip code to find restaurants in your area that offer gift certificates at discounted prices. Just read the fine print—many require that you spend at least $35 or order two entrées to redeem them.
DATE-NIGHT DINNERS: BYOB
About half of all restaurants permit you to bring your own wine, according to the website GoBYO.com
, which tracks the trend in 10 metro regions across the U.S. (Visit GoBYO or call the restaurant beforehand to find out if it will let you tote your own chardonnay or merlot.) Most corkage fees are $10 to $20 per bottle, which can save you serious dough if you compare that to the markup—typically two to three times the retail price—that you'll pay on wine purchased off the menu. Frequent an establishment enough, and it may waive the fee altogether.
PRINTER INK: SWITCH FONTS
Century Gothic, a particularly light, thin font, uses about 30 percent less ink than Arial, according to a study by Printer.com
. Other cheap fonts: Times New Roman, Calibri, and Verdana.
PRINTER CARTRIDGE: THINK INK
Go to Printer.com
, type in your printer model name under "Save and Find Cheapest Cartridge For," and the site will generate a list of online retailers that sell the cartridge you need—along with the prices—so you can compare. Also consider generic and remanufactured cartridges (find both at 4inkjets.com
), which can be up to 50 percent cheaper.
DESIGNER FASHION: JOIN THE CLUB
"Members only" sample sale sites like Ideeli.com
, and RueLaLa.com
can get you 70 to 80 percent off anything from a pair of chic Tory Burch flats to a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. (O
readers can get immediate membership at Rue La La by going to RueLaLa.com/oprah
. You can also join any of the sites by logging on to request membership.) When your favorite designer brand hits the online sale rack, try this trick: Scroll down to the bottom of the listed items (or click ahead to the last page) and work your way back. Most people will start at the top, so this can increase your chance of getting first dibs on some items.
DESIGNER FASHION: SOMETHING BORROWED
Need an outfit for a special occasion, but hate to spend a lot on something you'll wear only once? RentTheRunway.com
can clothe you in brands few can afford to buy retail—Herve Leger, Proenza Schouler, Yigal Azrouel—for just 10 percent of the purchase price. The outfit arrives in two sizes to ensure the best fit; the morning after, drop it into the pre-paid shipping envelope, and they'll handle the dry cleaning. If you need accessories, BagBorroworSteal.com
rents high-end jewelry and thousands of designer handbags by the week, month or season; $20 will buy you the company of a simple black Michael Kors clutch for the week, while a Gucci python tote will set you back $85—or $1925 less than you would have paid in-store.
GYM MEMBERSHIP: SNAG BACK-TO-SCHOOL BARGAINS
We all know about the January deals, but September, when kids go back to school and parents are free to work out, is also a good time to get a discount. Live in a college town? Gyms will often slash fees during the summer, while gyms in resort towns do so during the off-season. Pay for an entire year up front, and many clubs will tack on a few extra months for free.
GYM MEMBERSHIP: DITCH INITIATION FEES
Ask the salesperson to waive the initiation fee—typically $50 to $150, Melstrand says. (They're most likely to do this if you're switching your membership from another gym, or if you were previously a member of the gym you want to join.)
Just joined a gym? Request a free training session with one of the club's most-experienced trainers. "Many gyms will throw this in for new members, but they usually pair you with the newbie trainers," Melstrand says.
FRESH FLOWERS: AVOID THE HOLIDAY RUSH
Sending a floral bouquet for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or another holiday? Order at least a week beforehand, and have it delivered two to three days early to avoid the holiday markup—typically 10 to 20 percent. During nonholiday weeks, shop on Tuesdays, often the slowest sales day of the week.
Also be sure to ask the florist to make a bouquet using whatever flowers are in season. "As with produce, you'll get the best deal on what's growing now and it will also be the best quality," says Berry.
CAR INSURANCE: SCALE BACK
Consider dropping collision coverage if your car is worth less than ten times the premium.
After answering several screens' worth of questions on InsWeb.com
, you'll receive auto insurance quotes from four agencies. (You'll have to check out Geico.com
separately.) "Reassess your coverage once a year, or any time you have a major life change such as getting married, getting divorced, or having a child start driving or go away to college," says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute.
AIRFARE: CALL AT 12:01 A.M. WEDNESDAY
That's the best time to buy airline tickets, according to Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News. The worst? Weekends—airlines usually begin their bidding wars by Saturday. Plus: You may find the cheapest fares by calling the airline rather than booking online, says Greenberg.
DRY CLEANING: FIND COUPONS
Go to 8coupons.com
, type in "dry cleaning" under "search for deals," and enter your zip code. The site will list specials offered by local cleaners.
DIY (DRY-CLEAN IT YOURSELF!)
Do it yourself with at-home dry cleaning kits. They're easy to use—each comes with a spot remover and a special bag that generates steam. Just place the garment inside and pop it in the dryer for half an hour. They don't eliminate the need for the cleaner altogether, but they get rid of wrinkles and odors, which extends the time between cleanings, says Colleen Dunn, associate professor of management and marketing at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania who also has a background in textiles. Check out Dryel.com
for coupons on their kits.
CLICK HERE FOR SAVINGS
offers printable coupons and online discount codes (passwords to enter for savings at checkout), which are supplied by other shoppers or deposited on the site by stores themselves.
actually does what you always mean to do: It monitors when your wish list items—or purchases you've recently made—go on sale. Just copy and paste the URL of the item onto the site and you'll get an e-mail when the price changes.
negotiates one local group deal per day in more than 60 locations across the country—say, half off Bollywood dance classes or a free entrée at a popular restaurant. As long as enough people sign up, the deal is on. Register for the site's local e-mail blast and you'll get daily missives inviting you to join hundreds (if not thousands) of strangers to leverage your collective bargaining power.
aggregates bargains from sites all around the Web. Just type in your zip code, choose the category of deal you want (such as "events and attractions," "hotels," or "home and garden"), and up pops a map of your area with the locations and details of each coupon or sale.
snags you 4 to 7 percent cash back on online purchases at thousands of retailer links on the site, from World Market to Home Depot to BlueFly
. Just go to eBates, and click on the online shop you want to visit. The site will receive a fee for referring you. They also split the fee with you, so you get a check in the mail along with your new blender or sandals.
APPS THAT SAVE: ERRANDS MADE EASY
Find the Best Price:
Out shopping for shoes when you suddenly remember you need a wedding shower gift? Use SaveBenjis.com
to search by keyword for a list of nearby retailers that carry, say, a nice set of 400-threadcount sheets. Alternatively, scan the barcode of a book, lipstick, blender, or anything else you're eyeing to find out if other nearby stores or websites are selling it for less. ($1.99 at the iTunes store)
Find Local Yard Sales:
Yard Sale Treasure Map pulls local yard sale listings from Craigslist and even maps your route from one to the next. (Free for iPhone at YardSaleTreasureMap.com
Save on groceries, prescriptions, coffee and more:
Don't miss our updated 2008
and 2009 money-saving guides