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Be a Frugal Shopper

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A frugal shopper has skills and ways of looking at things that help him or her take advantage of the money-saving opportunities in life. There are eleven of these techniques below. You can learn them in a matter of a day or two, practice them for a few weeks, and then save money for the rest of your life.

1. Frugal shoppers study other people. Do you know someone who always gets the best deal on cars, boats, or whatever? Ask him how he does it! Some people will tell you that the cheapest coffee in town is $3 per cup, while others will say 50 cents. There are probably people near you living a good life on half of what you make. Learn how others do things, so you'll know your options.

2. Frugal shoppers tell people what they need. Just mention it in conversation. Do you know how many people get free or cheap things, just because they talk? My neighbor wanted to upgrade her living room debt, and was thrilled that I would take her 3-month-old couch off her hands for $30. Glad I mentioned I was looking for one.

3. Frugal shoppers pay cash. Things are cheaper when paid for in cash instead of credit. Want that new patio set? The price divided by the number of weeks you can wait to get it equals how much you need to set aside each week. You'll not only save on interest when you pay cash, but you'll often get a better price.

4. A good shopper looks for alternatives. Maybe you'd have just as much fun taking that discounted trip to the Bahamas as you would going to Jamaica. If you happen to enjoy pizza just as much - or more, skip the expensive restaurant and call Dominoes.

5. Frugality requires knowledge of values. It's tough to get a great deal on a car if you don't know what a great deal is. Start educating yourself on prices, especially before you're ready to buy anything that costs a lot.

6. Use the internet. I bought a ring for my wife on a wholesale site for $47, including shipping. When I received it, I took it to a jewelry store and found the same ring for $150. The internet is also an easy way to learn prices before you go shopping anywhere.

7. Advertise. Many years ago I put an ad in the classifieds that read, "Looking for a mobile home on land - can put $3,000 down." An older couple that was thinking of selling called me, and that's how I bought my first home at a good price.

8. Visit rummage sales. Only you can say if it is worth your time, but you can save a lot of money on a wide variety of things. Late or early is best. Early gets you the super-cheap stuff before others get it. Late in the day you can negotiate almost anything, and even get things free.

9. Visit flea markets. Again, the time you'll spend may not be worth the savings if you make $50 an hour at your job, but these are great places to practice negotiating skills. Haggling over the price is expected. Bring a list of what you need, so you don't buy too much unnecessary junk.

10. Shop at thrift stores. Note which ones have better prices or more of what you need. Many have a color-tag system to keep the stuff moving. Each week all the items with tags of a certain color are half-price. Just watch for those green tags and ignore the rest - their week will come.

11. A good shopper does the math. You didn't really save $400 on that car if it costs you $500 more in gas each year. Also, be aware that some stores are cashing in on shoppers assumptions that larger is cheaper. Yes, the gallon of pickles might actually cost more than four quart jars. Be ready to do the math.



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