If you want to save money when you're shopping, you have plenty of options to consider. Clipping and using coupons is perhaps the most obvious suggestion. If you do this, consider keeping your coupons organized in some kind of small file system -- perhaps a series of small envelopes. Here are some additional ideas:

  • Plan your shopping according to what's on sale.
  • Wait for your favorite brands of items, especially non-perishables such as toilet paper or canned goods, to come on sale -- and then stock up.
  • Never shop for food on an empty stomach.
  • Don't shop without a list of what you need to buy.
  • Compare prices per unit on what you buy. Sometimes, a bigger or smaller container is the better bargain.
  • Cereal is expensive. Buy when it's on sale, or buy cereal in bags, since they tend to be less expensive.
  • Buy some items online when it's less expensive to do so. Pet food can be found inexpensively online. Some possible vendors: PetFoodDirect.com, and the websites of PetSmart and Petco.
  • Shop at outlets.
  • Research purchases with Consumer Reports magazine (and its website) and other resources. They'll help you buy the better-quality products at reasonable prices.
  • Buy high-quality items. They tend to last longer and serve you better.
  • Ask yourself whether you really need whatever you're about to buy. Maybe you just really want it, but you could put off the purchase for a while.
  • Examine restaurant and store receipts closely, because they often contain errors. (Sometimes intentionally!)
  • Check the change you get from cashiers.
  • Shop at discount clubs such as Costco or BJ's. You'll find some amazing bargains at these stores. Just don't assume that everything there is a bargain. Compare prices.
  • Buy store brands when possible instead of name brands.
  • Look for rebate forms at stores, and send in for rebates.
  • Buy used when you can -- especially for items such as books, CDs, and furniture. Amazon.com and eBay, as well as eBay subsidiary Half.com, offer many used books and CDs, among other things. Also consider using a library instead of buying, and sell your used items when you're done with them.
  • If you like having fresh-cut flowers in your home, consider starting a cutting garden and growing them yourself. It's a great way to save money, learn a new hobby, and turn your yard and home into a neighborhood showpiece.

You'll find many more handy tips on our Living Below Your Means discussion board. The board's directory of tips is especially handy. Once you've saved some money, put it to work for you. Learn more in our Savings Center, which features some good interest-rate deals.

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