Bargains are waiting to be found at Flea Markets I love to spend hours looking at flea markets for different items. Different vendors set up their products in a central location so that consumers can spend their time walking around and see the new and used items available for sale. You never know what you will come across at a flea market. There are plenty of new and used items as well as home made crafts and clothing to choose from. To help make your day at the flea market the best it can be plan for the day. Most flea markets are outdoors so you may want some sunscreen and a hat. Others are inside so make sure you find out ahead of time. You don’t want to spend the day carrying around the items you purchased so make sure you take along a bag or a cart. There are some very inexpensive carts that fold up and fit into the trunk of your car. Make sure you wear good walking shoes too so you won’t have to end your daily early due to tired feet. A good tip to help if you do get tired walking is to walk to the very end of the vendors and work your way forward. This way you will have the heaviest load from items you have purchased when you are nearest your vehicle. Keep in mind that most people start at the entrance of the flea market so if you start at the back you will be able to see many items before too many other people do. Most flea markets are offered on the weekends but some of them do take place on weekdays as well. The number of other people looking around is generally lower during the week but then so is the number of vendors. It is really a toss up about when is the best time of day to make a deal at a flea market. It is perfectly acceptable to try to get the price lowered down from what the vendor is asking for it. By going to a flea market first thing in the morning you are likely to be able to take advantage of the selection before everyone else has. This is the best solution if there are particular items you are interested in finding. Yet many people claim they have a harder time getting the seller to negotiate the prices when they purchase early in the morning. By the end of the day though most vendors are very willing to lower the prices on the items they have remaining. They definitely don’t want to have to pack up any more stuff at the end of the day than they absolutely have to. If you have a particular item in mind and you can wait until the end of the day you will get a better price. You also run the risk of someone else snatching it up though if it is a one of a kind item. There are different ways to negotiate the price of any given item. You can ask the vendor what the lowest price is that they will take for a given it. You can also offer to pay a certain price and see if they will take you up on the offer. If you want to offer $10 then have that money in your hand for them to see. Seeing the money will often entice them to take the money. I have found it is always worth my time to look around though because I may find the vendor in the next aisle has the same item for $10 less. If I am going to go back to check on an item with a particular vendor I write down their location because by the end of the day it can be difficult to remember who is located where. PPPPPP Word Count 650
Can Discount Stores Really offer you a Bargain? It seems like dollar stores and other various discount stores are becoming a common retailer in most areas. Can these discount stores really offer you a bargain or do they just sell poor quality items? In my opinion, there are plenty of gear bargains to be found in dollar stores and discount stores if you look for the right items. I give lots of cards to people, but they can cost $3 each at most retailers. I can find some great cards at discount stores for about $.50 each.
They are still funny or pretty or sentimental in nature and I never feel like I had to settle for less than what I wanted to say. Disposable items for a party are a great deal at discount stores. The cost of napkins, paper plates, cups, silverware, invitations, and tablecloths can really add up fast. Wrapping paper and gift bags are another area of party items that can be found for a good price at discount stores. I wouldn’t recommend going into discount stores and buying gifts for your family members or friends, but there are some good items in there. I personally enjoy buying picture frames from discount stores because they look just as nice. However, I would feel bad giving picture frames from these stores as gifts. For example I bought a very nice set of three frames from a discount store recently. They look like glass and make a beautiful display on my dresser. Yet when you pick them up you can quickly tell they are made from lightweight plastic. Most discount stores have plenty of toys for children, but remember that children are very hard on toys. They will be very disappointed when the head pops off the doll or the tires fall of the car. I wouldn’t recommend buying such toys from a discount store as the quality just isn’t there. Yet there are plenty of fun children’s toys you can get from a discount store including cards, marbles, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and coloring books. These all make great items for stocking stuffers or even for traveling to make the trip go by faster. I like to bring bubbles for when we stop at a rest area as an incentive to get them to treat each other with respect while we are on the road. Simple, but it works well every time! There are also plenty of items at discount stores that you can use to decorate your home. I refuse to pay $35 for a shower curtain! It just isn’t going to happen. I always get them at the dollar store for just a couple of dollars. They last a very long time and they were well. I have not problem at all when the time comes to replace it. I have also found neat soap dishes and wall hangings for my bathroom at discount stores. Office supplies are something most of us use on a regular basis. You can get them for a very good price at discount stores. Notebooks, paper, pens, glue, rulers, scissors, calculators, and envelopes can all be found for a really good price. I have never had any problems with the quality of such items. They are very comparable to those I buy at other retail stores for much more money. I think when it comes to finding bargains at discount stores there are some to be found. It is important that you don’t have too high of expectations when it comes to the quality of the items. Yet in most of the cases relating the different items I have described above, the quality doesn’t have to be exceptional. They will work to serve the purpose without costing you a fortune. This makes party planning much more fun when you know you have the budget to cover it all. If you don’t shop at discount stores you are really missing out on some great bargains! Word Count 663
Do you Really Save Money if you Purchase Items in Bulk? With the continued cost of various items in our society the concept of buying in bulk is getting to be more common that ever. Yet many people question if they are really saving money or not. The answer to this question that yes you will save money when you purchase the right items in bulk. For example you really don’t need to purchase a case of 200 light bulbs as that will last you for many, many years. On the other hand if you have a fairy large family or lots of guests on a regular basis you might consider buying toilet paper and paper towels in bulk.
Any item that you will use up in a short period of time is a good candidate for being purchased in bulk. There are many membership warehouses that offer bulk items that focus on families and small businesses. Dry ingredients for your home including sugar and flour are good options. Avoid buying bulk items that will result in eating the same thing day after day though as no one wants to have to do this.
For example, don’t buy snacks and potato chips in bulk because everyone in your family will quickly tire of the taste. If you find that such items like that are a good deal but more than you reasonably need, consider buying bulk items with another family. This way you can share the items and the expense. It is good idea to take the other party shopping with you so that everyone gets a fair say in what items will be purchased.
You may need to be willing to try new brands of items to make this work. If the other party already uses that brand ask them to give you a sample. If you want them to consider your brand then offer them a sample of it to try as well. Meat is probably the best item you can buy in bulk to save money. This will likely involve investing in a freezer that can be kept in your garage or basement to store the meat in. You can purchase a whole beef, Ѕ a beef, or even a quarter of beef.
Bulk meats of bacon and pork from pigs are also a good option. Once again you may want to consider sharing the products and the cost with a friend or relative. Canned goods last a very long time so you can purchase them in bulk and not have to worry about them spoiling. Some good choices are soups, canned vegetables, and various sauces that you will use for cooking. Babies are quite expensive as anyone with them can attest to. Buying diapers, baby food, and baby formula in bulk are all good ways to save money on those necessities.
And finally, let’s not forget about the expense relating to feeding our pets. If you use dry cat or dog food then buying it in bulk may be a good option for you. Most people don’t change the type of laundry detergent or cleaning supplies they use very often. You can purchase these items in bulk and save plenty of money. Most of the time they will come in larger bottles that you can pour into smaller spray bottles. Make sure you have a cool dry place to store the remaining cleaning supplies that are out of the reach of children. To ensure you are really getting a good deal on bulk items, take the time to read the information relating to the cost of the item per unit. This way you can compare that price with the overall cost. In most cases you will be able to find some really good deals that save you money. On the other hand don’t be so quick to pick up that big package of what ever you are looking at without finding out how much each item is really costing you. Manufacturers have gotten very good at selling items on concept and package designs rather than pricing. Word Count 680
Don’t Pass up the Value of using Coupons Most retailers understand the amount of competition they have out there, especially in larger towns. To help encourage customers to remain loyal to them they accept coupons for various products. One of the best uses of coupons is for purchasing grocery items you already use. Look for stores that offer you double or triple the face value of the coupon. Some stores only offer double and triple coupon values on specific days of the week so make sure you take advantage of them if at all possible. You will be amazed at how quickly this type of coupon system can help you slash your grocery bill. It is very important that you make sure the store isn’t inflating the prices on their items though because if they do you won’t save much with the coupons. Don’t be tempted to use a bunch of coupons in items you don’t normally use though or your grocery bill may end up increasing! You can get coupons from magazines and newspaper ads. Pay close attention the to the expiration dates on them as well. If you have access to the internet go to the sites for the products you use. Many of them offer coupons that they will mail to you or that you can print at home. If these sites offer an opt in list for you to get promotions and coupons by e-mail then take advantage of it. Some retail stores that welcome coupons offer a counter where you can take your unwanted coupons for other people to use. At the same time you are welcome to pick up various coupons others have left to make your own purchases. There are great coupon organizers that you can use like a mini filing system. You can categorize the coupons by the listed areas as well as create some of your own categories. This will reduce the amount of time you spent going through them while you are shopping. Many retailers are more than willing to honor the coupons for a competitor so that you will purchase the item from them instead of the other store. The best way to approach this issue is to take the coupon into the store with you. Ask to speak to a manager and explain that you really want to make the purchase from them but that the other store offers a much better price. In most cases they will at least match the price of the competition. Other retailers will even beat the price to encourage you to remain a loyal customer of theirs. Any time you plan to visit a museum, amusement park, or other activity check to see if there are coupons offered anywhere. Many times you will find buy 1 get 1 free coupons for such outings and that can be a great savings for your trip. You can usually find this out by looking online or calling the chamber of commerce in the area of the event. Online auctions like Yahoo! Auctions and eBay offer you plenty of opportunities to take advantage of discount coupons that others are selling as well. Restaurants often offer discount coupons to get people to come in and eat. You do need to pay close attention to the details of the coupon though. Many of them will have specific days of the week they can be used. Some of them also have a set time frame where they can’t be used after 4 pm or something similar. If you take the time to seek out coupons for items you will already spend money on then you can get the rewards of spending less while still getting all the things your family needs. You may think it is silly using a $.75 cent coupon here or a $2.00 coupon there but it will really start to add up over time. When you consider the amount of money you spent on groceries, eating out, and entertainment for a whole year those coupons really start to sound good! Word Count 675
Find Great Items at a Low Price by Going to Yard and Garage Sales The saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is one that we all find to be very true at one time or another. Many people clear out their unwanted items and then have a yard or garage sale. This is a great place to find items you want and need at bargain prices. If you don’t like the price on any given item at these sales you can ask them to lower it. Negotiating the selling price is a common practice for yard and garage sales. Should the seller not be willing to lower the price you can always ask them to take down your phone number and call you if the item doesn’t sale for the price they want. You will find most people are willing to lower the price rather than risk the item having to be carried back inside or stored if it doesn’t sale at the end of the day. When it comes to yard and garage sales, you will find you have the best luck if you start out early in the morning. Take the time to read through the ads in your local newspaper. It can be fun to map our a route of yard and garage sales you want to hit with a friend or even as a way to spend some time by yourself. This strategy will prevent you from constantly back tracking. The items you will find at a yard or garage sale will vary but some common items include clothing, furniture, baby items, kitchen item, art, tools, toys, bikes, and even vehicles. If you are looking for something in particular then search out ads that have those specific items. Since babies outgrow clothes and items like car seats and basinets quickly they are often in excellent shape. Career clothes are very expensive and you can find a wonderful selection of quality work clothes for both men and women at yard and garage sales. I have come across ladies business suites that still had the tags on them! The down side to purchasing clothing at yard and garage sales is that you can’t try them on first to make sure they fit. However, I figure if I am picking up a $60 skirt and blazer set for $2.50 I will take my chances! If you are looking for furniture then target the ads that describe and estate sale or a moving sale. In most cases they will be trying to sell all they can to prevent having to pack it up and move it with them or pay to place it into storage. You can generally even get them to assist you with loading the items you purchase or delivering them if you can negotiate the right deal. In most cases if you pay for an item the seller will be happy to allow you to come back later to pick it up if you need to. Clothing, household items, jewelry, and baby items are often expensive you pay retail price for them. You can get a great bargain if you get up early and go to yard and garage sales. Make sure you head out early and you have single bills and plenty of change. Then go have sun seeking the items you are after. If you are like me, there will be plenty that catches your eye that you decide you want just because you can’t pass up the great price for it. Word Count 590
Find Great Bargains at Pawn Shops At one time or another most of us have experienced wanting to purchase something but it just wasn’t in our budget to do so. In most cases these items weren’t necessities but luxuries we definitely would have loved to own. One place to find great bargains on the items you want without spending a fortune is your local pawn shops. A pawn shop is a place where individuals can take their items and exchange them for cash. They have a set period of time that the items will be kept. They have to repay the amount they got for the items along with a percentage that varies by state and local regulations. If an individual takes their items to a pawn shop and doesn’t return to pick them up by that deadline, then the owner of the pawnshop has the legal right to sell the items to the public. Since the items in any given pawnshop will vary at any given time, you will want to frequent them often. Some of the more common items found in any pawn shop include guns, televisions, VCR’s, DVD players, video game consoles and games, furniture, cameras, tools, stereos, jewelry, and music. If you are looking for a specific item you can let the owner of the pawn shop know. Most of them are kind enough to give you a call should that particular item fall into their hands for resale. The majority of items found in a pawn shop are in very good condition. Most of the individuals who take their items into a pawn shop are desperate for money so they trade in items they generally would have been using for the cash they need. While many people do return to pick up their items, there is a high percent that just don’t have the money to do so. Others have no intention from the moment they step into the pawn shop to return to pick up the items they brought in. Pawn shop owners have a legal obligation to get information from individuals who bring items in. This is to verify who they are and to track them down should the items they brought in be stolen goods. For the most part you won’t have any trouble with the items you purchase from a pawn shop. Many of them also ask for the name and contact information of anyone who buys items just in case any issues do arise. Should you be interested in purchasing a firearm from a pawn shop you need to be prepared to complete the same paperwork and process as you would to purchase a new gun. Most states have a mandatory waiting period for purchasing guns, and any pawn shop that sells them has to follow the same rules. Regardless of what you are looking for, don’t forget to take a look at what is for sale at your local pawn shops. You will be amazed at the bargains you find there. Most of them have a very good selection of items that changes frequently. You will also save plenty of money buying these items over the retail cost of them. You do need to carefully inspect all items though because I don’t know of any pawn shops that offer any kind of warranty of the items they sell. Word Count 559
Finding a Bargain on a New Vehicle We have all heard that depressing statement that a new vehicle depreciates in value the second you pull away from the dealership. I used to think that was an exaggeration until my friend got into a wreck in her Dodge Durango a week after she purchased it. The insurance wouldn’t give her enough to cover buying a new one even though she was not at fault in the accident. She had to get an attorney and eventually she was able to get a new vehicle to replace it, but not without quite a circus taking place around the issue for a couple of months. Buying a new vehicle is one expense that you have to consider very carefully. Those monthly payments can sure take a chunk out of your disposable income. You also have to consider the cost of license plates, insurance, gas, and regular maintenance on the vehicle. To help you find the very best bargains on the new vehicle of your choice you will want to conduct some research before you start negotiations with the salesman. There are a variety of ways to find out the book value on a particular vehicle. You can go to NADA or KellyBlueBook. You can get a very detailed price by listing the make of the vehicle, the various accessories it offers, and the mileage. This information will help you find the lowest price you can expect to purchase that vehicle for. Next, take a close look at your credit report so you know exactly what interest rate you can expect on a new vehicle. This way you don’t waste your time haggling with the sales. See what they offer you for a price and financing before you bring your information into play. If they match or beat it then great. If they want to give you higher price or interest rate, present your researched information. If they won’t sell you the vehicle for that price with that interest rate then go somewhere else. October is a very good time of year to start considering the purchase of a new vehicle. This is because they want to start clearing out vehicles on the lot to make room for the next year’s models that will soon be arriving. Since many vehicle dealerships don’t see much in the way of sales over winter due to the cold and the holiday season, they are more likely to present you with the deal of the century to make the sell. If you see other sales around the holidays they may be a good time to save money as well. The key to making sure it is a bargain is to make sure the cost hasn’t been inflated or your interest rated jacked up a percent or two to cover the promotional cost of the vehicle. Too many people get caught up in what they see on the windshield of a vehicle rather than looking at the big picture. New vehicles often end up with a scratch or a dent in them soon after you buy them. While this can be very upsetting you really can’t do much about it. Someone leaving their shopping cart in the parking lot of the store can result in the wind running it into your vehicle. You can find great deals of new vehicles that have some body damage such as small scratches and even hail damage from a recent storm. In most cases you will save several times what it costs you to repair the damage. To motivate customers to make a purchase of a new vehicle instead of just looking many dealerships offer incentives like 0% financing and cash back. Make sure you find out all the details of such promotions as they may be a good way to save money or they may cost you more in the long run. Take the time to calculate all the possible scenarios so that you get the bargain you were after with your new vehicle purchase. Word Count 672
Finding Bargains while Shopping for Antiques Many people have the misconception that antiques cost more than they can afford. Shopping for antiques is a great way to spend a free afternoon and you may be surprised at how many good bargains you come across. The hardest thing is many people don’t know the true value of the particular item they are looking at in an antique shop. It may have caught their attention because of the style of it or it brings back happy memories. You never really know if the shop owner is trying to up the price or if you are already getting a good deal. Since you can’t quickly go to another store and compare the price you pretty much have to decide the maximum you are willing to pay for an item and then walk away if the negations don’t work in your favor. It is a good idea to do some checking into the reputation of a given antique dealer before you even step foot into their store. You will find you are able to get good deals on antiques when you get to know the owner of the store. If you are a frequent shopper in the store you can build a good relationship. Brining in other customers to the store is something that will get noticed as well. The owner of the antique store will want to work with you on items so that you keep generating more business for them. You will be able to negotiate the price for what you want if the antique shop is operated by the owner and not several different employees. Even though you will find more selection at antique malls, you won’t be able to negotiate the prices as much. Small antique shops can generally offer you some history on the pieces you are the most interested in. For most antique shop owners, money talks so carry plenty of cash when you go out looking for antiques. This way they don’t have to mess with credit card transactions that cost them money. Many of the older antique stores are hesitant to take personal checks, especially if you are from out of town. Showing that you do have the cash with you in an unobvious way is also helpful. For example, you can count it and then say will you take $100 for it, that is all I have with me today. It is important to remember that you will be purchasing antiques in the condition they are in. Make sure you take the time to thoroughly examine what you are purchasing. You don’t want to get home and discover what you thought was a great bargain is nothing but junk. Most antique dealers take pride in offering quality items but you still need to check. You will be disappointed if you think you are going to take home an antique in mint condition for a very low price though. If you are looking for certain antiques, take a look around online to get a good idea of what the going price is for them. Try to negotiate something that is about 25% less than the rates you find online. Don’t be afraid to ask the antique shop owner to cut you a better price. It helps if you say something along the lines of “would you accept $100 for this”? Instead of “can you lower the price”? It definitely helps you get what you want if you are assertive but not going overboard. Word Count 587
Get the very best Rates on Hotel Rooms It can be fun to go on a trip and enjoy staying in a luxurious hotel room. Yet many people have to pass up that option and go for a more moderate hotel because of the expense involved. There are some good ways to get the hotel you want at a price you can afford though. It does take some research and planning but it can be done. Regardless of the hotel you are looking at, weekends are generally their busiest time. Planning your stay during the week will help you get a much lower rate. You also need to do research to find out the slowest time of year for that given hotel. They will offer lower prices during that time period so that they can sell rooms rather than leaving them empty. If you have any type of membership such as AAA or military, you may be eligible for discounts on various hotels without even knowing it. Call the hotel and ask them what discounts they offer. While you have them on the line ask them to quote you the very lowest price they can offer. Then compare this price to different online sites. Sometimes the hotel offers the best price and other times you will find it online. If you are more comfortable booking with the hotel directly, ask them to honor a price you found somewhere online. Many hotels offer discounts for people who have stayed with them before, even free nights or upgrades after you have stayed with them a set amount of times. If you will be staying at the hotel for several days at a time you will likely get special treatment. This could be a room close to the elevator or with the best type of view. Make sure you mention the length of your stay and what you are interested in when you make the reservation. There is generally no extra cost for such features but make sure you ask before you agree to the reservation. When you arrive at the hotel you can ask them for a free upgrade. If they have the room available they may be able to honor your request. There is no guarantee that it will happen though so be prepared that you will be in the type of room you paid for. If you are visiting the hotel on the off season or during the week you are more likely to get such an upgrade at no extra charge. You may mention that you would really love one of the balcony rooms if they could offer you an upgrade if you want a specific type of upgrade amenity. Many people plan their hotel arrangements way in advance. This is good so that you are guaranteed a room. However, if you can get away with flexible days to stay then you can keep a watchful eye on the very best prices. You can grab some great last minute deals on hotel rooms online at different travel sites. You have to be careful though because you don’t want to end up with no hotel room at all. You can try to work out a deal by simply walking into a hotel in the late evening to see what is still available. You have a good chance of working out a good deal since the room may go unused if they don’t offer it to you. However, they may be viewing it as a chance to get more money for the room since you are looking for one at the last minute. Don’t be afraid to say no to their offer and try to renegotiate it. Too many people simply walk into a hotel, as the price, and then pay for it without any negotiating taking place whatsoever. If you know several other people who will be staying at the same hotel you can ask for a group discount rate. In some cases the rooms all have to be paid for together but the majority of hotels will accommodate individual billing. Word Count 681
Getting a Good Deal on Children’s Clothing Children grow at unbelievable rates, and sometimes it seems like their clothes no longer fit just overnight. Clothing isn’t cheap so having to budget for a new wardrobe isn’t easy. If you have several children then you know all too well the burden of coming up with money to buy all of the clothes they need before school starts and again in the summer time. Sure, you can save some money by passing clothing from one child to another but there are plenty of other ways to save money on children’s clothing. Many stores offer buy one get one free offers throughout the year on jeans, shirts, and even shoes. While you may not think your child needs so many right then consider buying them the next size up. This way when you need bigger clothes for them you already have some stored away at home without having to rush out and spend whatever the going price is at that time for such items. Pay attention to the sales that take place throughout the year on children’s clothing. You will be amazed at the savings. In fact, the first place I look when I enter a retail store is the discount and sale racks that are generally placed at the back of the store. I have purchased swimsuits and swim trunks for my children as school time approaches for just a dollar or two instead of $10 or $20 a piece. Winter jackets can cost from $50 to $200 dollars depending on where you purchase them from. I always buy extras for my children at the end of winter and never pay more than $20 for them. The same with summer clothing such as sandals and shorts. They go on sale as school approaches and I buy larger sizes to store until next summer. I use tight sealing storage containers for the clothing so it won’t get damaged. Sweaters for both boys and girls are a common item in the colder months, but it can be expensive for good quality ones. Buy them on sale and pack them away for next year. Try to avoid ones that offer seasonal colors or themes so that they can be used whenever the child needs one. Even paying $5 for a sweater that is regularly $30 is a very good deal in my book. My children and I make it a day of fun and games when it is time to change from one season to the next. We go through the containers of clothing and try on things to see what is a good fit. We also clean out clothes that don’t fit from their closets. This way we know exactly what items each child still needs to be ready for the season. To get good deals like these on clothing for children you need to be well organized and plan ahead. You may think it isn’t worth while to pay for items now that won’t get used for a year, but think about the overall savings. I have three children to buy winter jackets for so $20 each in about the cost of one when the next winter rolls around. This is the best way I know to keep my children dressed nicely but also to make it fit well into the budget I have to work with. Don’t forget to look at the sale pages for children’s clothing that are often found in the major newspapers on Wednesdays and Sundays. You may be able to pick up some great deals at these one day sales, but make sure it really is a sale and not just a promotion of their regularly advertised prices. To get the most out of the clothing you purchase, try to avoid trendy themes that may not be in style when your child is able to wear them next year. Stick to basic styles and colors. Word Count 657
Getting the Home you want at a Price you can Afford The topic of real estate can be very tricky as the market continually shifts. Sometimes it is a buyer’s market out there with plenty of homes to choose from. Other times the seller’s have the upper hand as more people are looking for quality homes than there are available in the area. Getting the home you want at a price you can afford is going to take some effort on your part. However, since purchasing a home is likely to be the biggest investment you ever make it is well worth it to do your homework before you sign anything. One of the best ways to do this is to find a home that is worth less than you can afford and then do some repairs and remodeling. If you have the time and the ability to do this on your own you will save a fortune. It can be very expensive to hire a contractor so think about this option only if you are up to the task of completing the majority of the work on your own. You will be surprised to find out how much money you can save on a home with an unfinished basement area. Yet this gives you the opportunity to design it exactly how you want it to look. It will also double the amount of space you have to use when you first bought the home. This is one of the best ways to maximize your investment in any home. You can add extra bedrooms, a family room, and even a home office in that space. Homes all over the country are being foreclosed on for non payment daily. These homes are generally put up for auction by the bank that the funds are owed to. You can get a bargain price on the home of your dreams through this process. You will have to be prequalified for a mortgage loan or a line of credit prior to the auction though as you will have to have funds to put down a sizeable amount of the purchase price that day. If you know the area you live in well, then you will likely know why individuals are moving out of their home. If they are relocating for work or need to sell their home because they are trying to purchase a larger one chances are they will reduce the price to meet your offer just to get out from underneath the home as quickly as possible. This is also true where the couple who owns the home is getting a divorce. Many people looking for a home go through the process of being prequalified. This allows you to find out exactly what the maximum amount is that you can be approved for when it comes to a home mortgage loan. You shouldn’t disclose that figure to the seller of the home but when you make an offer on the home you do want to include a copy of the prequalification certificate. The reason for this is that they are more likely to accept a lower offer than the asking price from someone who definitely has the ability to get the financing. This is a signal to them that you really are ready to purchase their home if they price is right for them. They also don’t have to continue looking at offers and then later find out the person couldn’t get the loan to complete the process. Buying a home isn’t an investment you want to take lightly. Most mortgages cover a 30 year period so the purchase will affect your budget for a very large part of your life. Getting the home you want at a price you can afford takes planning, research, and time. Yet this investment is well worth it to be living in the home of your dreams at a bargain of a price. Word Count 657
Give Great Gifts without Paying a Fortune for Them Sometimes it seems that you are always trying to budget for different occasions where you need to provide a gift. There are always plenty of housewarmings to attend, weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays to keep you digging into your pocketbook. Since you know you will always need gifts, it can save you plenty of time and money if you purchase such gifts in advance while they are on sale. This is the perfect way to find bargains for gifts so that the recipient thinks you spent more than you did. To make this concept work well for you, organization is very important! I know people who buy plenty of bargains to give as gifts, but the problem is they can never remember what they have or where it is when they need something. If you create a list and keep it in a safe place you will always know what gifts you have available. I keep them in an air tight Tupperware storage container (that I got on sale!). If you have children then you know there are always plenty of birthday invitations coming your way throughout the year. When the toy store or another retailer has a sale on toys purchase some common ones. Girls generally like dolls and Barbie’s. Boys will always enjoy cars and action figures. Board games, puzzles, and books make great gift items for both boys and girls. Try to avoid anything that is trendy because you don’t know how long that fad is going to be in existence. If you give a gift that used to be trendy but isn’t popular anymore it will be very obvious that you didn’t shop for the gift recently. Some children’s characters are always in style though like the Disney Characters and Looney Tunes so you should be save purchasing toys with these themes. For adults, there are a variety of great items you can find at bargain prices to give them for most any occasion. Flower vases, picture frames, photo albums, and candles all make great gifts for even the most difficult people on your shopping list. These items are timeless as well so it doesn’t matter how long they stay in your gift chest before you give them to someone. You can even incorporate this concept to purchase birthday and Christmas presents for your spouse and your children. This way you will spend less around the holidays, and you won’t be burdened with shopping while everyone else it that time of year. It can help to keep a list of the items that catch the eyes of those in your family so you can make sure you get the right item when you see it on sale. Being able to offer someone you care about a very special gift is important, but it can also be stressful when you are pressed for time and money is tight. By purchasing bargain items as you come across then you will always have plenty of great gifts to share without breaking the bank. This will allow you to give people better gifts than if you have to shop for them right before the occasion. Sure, you may get lucky and find a good sale at that point it you can’t be sure it will happen. Word Count 554
Save Money on your Purchases by Taking Advantage of the Rebates Offered Many manufacturers offer mail in rebates to encourage consumers to buy their product. The way these rebates work is that you have to pay the full price for the product when you get it. Then you fill out the rebate information and mail it in along with a copy of your receipt. They will then send you a check. However, you will be amazed at how many people fail to get around to sending in the information for their rebate. Most offers have a set time frame so it is a good idea to get the information in the mail as quickly as possible. They either don’t want to mess around with the process or the simply forget with so many other things taking place in their life. Since it can take weeks to get your rebate in the mail, it is a good idea to keep a file of the rebates you have mailed in. Always make a copy of the rebate information and the receipt before you mail it in. This way you have proof of your purchase and a phone number to contact them if you don’t receive the rebate in a timely manner. The amount of any given rebate will vary but when you consider that the average on is $25, that is a great deal of money that consumers aren’t taking advantage of. It is a good idea to always use them to your advantage. Otherwise you are simply throwing your money away. Each rebate process may be slightly different so make sure you take the time to read all the information that comes with it. You don’t want the frustration of waiting for 60 days to get the rebate only to get a letter instead that says you aren’t eligible because you failed to provide some piece of information or your form wasn’t completely filled out. It is also a good idea to take action when a rebate you send it is not honored. This doesn’t happen very often but it is very important that you follow up. If you only purchased the item at the price offered because of the rebate than it is even more important that you get it. Getting your rebate should never exceed 60 days. If you don’t have it by then contact the company. Make sure you document all the information about when you called and who you spoke to. It is good to have a log of this information so that if you want to pursue getting the rebate by other means you can back up your information. There are a couple good websites you can use to track your rebate including MyRebates, WheresMyRebate, and Rebatestatus. If you don’t find your rebate and the manufacturer isn’t working with you then file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. The majority of company’s who offer rebates do honor them though so this really should never be an ongoing issue for you. There are plenty of businesses that do look forward to the unclaimed rebates though because at least 40% of them never get filed by the consumer. As a rule of thumb though, I wouldn’t recommend basing your purchase on a rebate. If you don’t end up with the funds then the product cost you more than you were willing to pay for it. While you wait for the rebate process to be completed you will have the loss of that additional money that could be allocated for something else. You should also be prepared for rebates to ask for your personal information including your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. This could result in you getting coupons and promotions that will save you more money in the future. However, they can result in you getting bombarded by offers by the manufacturer that you aren’t interested in. Word Count 657
Save Money on Text Books One of the most expensive areas of attending college seems to be the cost of the text books these days. Since most colleges only use a particular book for a year or two it is very hard to purchase them in advance. Yet there are some good ways you can catch a break when it comes to paying for the text books you need. Almost all colleges have bulletin boards so you can place an ad for the various books you need. Hopefully individuals who have just finished the course will gladly part with the book for much less than they paid for it. If you have text books from courses you have finished you may be able to trade what you need for what someone else needs. If you are in a particular type of program such as business or education you will likely find other students who need to take the same classes as you. Setting up a text book swap is a great way to maximize the amount of money that you do spend on text books. It can be very frustrating to get the newest edition of a particular text book and then find out it hasn’t changed very much at all from the previous edition. Take to your instructor as they will likely have gone through the new edition and make comparisons to the old one. Most instructors are fine with you using an older edition of the same book. You can save a substantial amount of money if you are able to do so. Another frustration can be to find out after your purchase such a text book that you won’t need it very much as the instructor mainly teaches from notes. If this is the case consider purchasing a book with a classmate and splitting the cost. This won’t work well if you will have a great deal of text book reading or assignments to complete though. Check to see if the college library offers copies of text books rather than purchasing them. Most libraries that offer this option don’t allow the text books to be checked out but you can use them in the library as you need to. If you choose this option make sure you start on assignments as quickly as possible so that you don’t have to stress about someone else already using the book. Some book stores offer to place used text books on consignment for students. These are often placed in the bookstore with the new books on the shelves. While they may have some wear and tear as well as highlighting they will serve the purpose of a one semester course. These consigned books generally sell fast so make sure you go to the bookstore at the very end of the semester. As students complete their finals they will take their books into the bookstore. On the back of each textbook is an ISBN number. It is generally found above or underneath the bar code on the book. You can use this number to search for the text book on the internet. There are several places where you can purchase new and used textbooks at a price that is much less than what you will pay for it at the college campus bookstore. Word Count 552
Save Money Shopping for Clothing at Thrift Stores On average, most people clear out their closets at least twice per year. All of the clothing they no longer wear it taken to charity locations and thrift stores. Many people donate clothing items that they only wore a couple of times or that still have the tags on them. The most common thrift stores to find such clothing are the Salvation Army and the Goodwill. Both of them inspect clothing for stains and tears so you can be sure you will find good quality clothing for men, women, and children at very low prices. Many people think these thrift stores only carry outdated clothing but that is simply not the case. Children often outgrow clothing before it has been worn out or the style has faded. There are also plenty of clothing articles that never go out of style including t-shirts and denim jeans. While you may not find the same styles offered at the trendy retailers in the area you will find plenty of quality clothing for less than you will pay for it anywhere else. I have walked out of such thrift stores with bags of clothes that cost me less than purchasing one outfit at a retail store. Jackets are very expensive but not if you purchase them from a thrift store. There are plenty of winter jackets, pullovers, and windbreakers to choose from. To make finding things in the right size easier most thrift stores separate clothing by the type that it is and by sizes. However, you will need to spend your time looking through what is available. The downside is that if you do find something you really like and it doesn’t fit you won’t have very good luck finding it in another size as you do in a department store. Depending on the location of the thrift store, they may carry various household items as well. Some of the larger facilities offer used furniture, appliances, and books. I found a couple of nice wood end tables at a thrift store once that I like so much I have never replaced them with anything else even though I can now afford to do so. Too many thrift stores have gotten a bad reputation for being viewed as a place to shop for individuals who don’t have very much money. If your pride keeps you from visiting thrift shops then you will be throwing your money away. If you have never been into a thrift store you really should take the time to do so. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you find there. Another good alternative is shopping at consignment stores. These are places where individuals take their unwanted clothing and furniture to be sold. The store splits the profits made from anything that sells with the person who brought it in. Most consignment items can only be on display for a limited amount of time. Towards the end of that time frame the items are generally sold at a discounted price before they are taken off the list of items to be sold. You will pay more for items at a consignment store than you will at a thrift store but you will also be able to find some wonderful bargains that still save you money over buying them retail. The reason you will pay more is because the person selling the items and the store want to make as much profit as possible. You generally won’t be able to negotiate the prices though. One good example of saving money at either thrift stores or consignment stores is for party dresses, wedding dresses, and prom dresses. It is likely that they will only be worn once so it is silly to spend hundreds of dollars on such a gown. You will likely be able to find a good selection of such dresses that are still in style. Even if you have to pay to have the dress altered a bit you can still have the beautiful dress you want without the expense. Word Count 679