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On CNBC, some of the early morning financial news anchors rave about McCoffee. There’s a humorous “feud” between them and their Starbucks devotee counterparts on MSNBC.
Listening to their coffee banter led me to compile a list of simple ways to save money without sacrificing quality:
- Pull the food ads from your local Wednesday paper. Circle food you like to eat. Let the ads inspire your cooking decisions as you create a weekly menu plan.
- Shop for local, seasonal produce at farmers’ markets or fruit and veggie purveyors.
- Grow fresh herbs in pots on a sunny window sill.
- Always go to the grocery store with a list. Buy what’s on the list. Leave the store.
- If you live in areas where there are Trader Joe’s markets, take advantage of their commitment to excellence at low prices. Extraordinary pasta, dairy, olive oils, juices, spices, breads, wine, and many other products. For a treat, try the Double Rainbow Ultra Chocolate ice cream and the Trader Joe’s house brand of frozen lemonade.
- When you plan dinner menus, cook enough for lunch the next day. Roast chicken or beef can become a sandwich on artisan bread or a chef’s salad for your lunch. Be creative. Pack it up after dinner to take with you to work. Ask coworkers to join you in bringing lunch. If you like to get out of the office during lunch, take your delicious meal to a nearby park or another attractive area. Consider going out one day each week rather than daily. With an average daily lunch tab of $10.00, you spend around $200 monthly or $2400 yearly on lunch. Taking your lunch four days a week and eating out once would save you approximately $1900 during a year.
- Compile a list of the people you always give a present to for birthdays, holidays, etc. Stick the list in your wallet. Watch for perfect gifts at deeply discounted prices throughout the year.
- The dollar stores in your area contain bargains. Beware of stores, such as Dollar General, where many selections are priced higher than a dollar. Discontinued (sometimes your favorite brand) items can be found in chains such as the 99cents Only Store and Dollar Tree, as well as tasteful gift bags, an appealing selection of greeting cards, plus many other useful items.
- Every fall, when Costco puts out their holiday gift wrap, they offer large packages, around 400 sheets, of white tissue paper. Historically, it’s been priced below $5.00. A package of five, lesser quality tissue sheets, costs a dollar or more in other stores. Stock up for the year.
- When your dry cleaning doesn’t require precision pressing, try the Dryel system in your clothes dryer. I find it’s perfect for sweaters, scarves, wool gloves, and straight skirts. Depending on your quantity of dry cleaning, your savings can be substantial.
- Keep track of the lowest priced gas in your area. In my city, the price of regular gas ranges from $2.24 to $2.39 today. With a 25 gallon tank, 15 cents difference equals $3.75. If you fill up twice a week for a year, you’d save $390.00.
- For major purchases, such as appliances, shop local to find the model you want. Then search online. You may be able to find that upscale stove or refrigerator at considerable savings. Often out-of-town dealers will pay for shipping, while local merchants charge for delivery. Add up complete costs to find the best source for you.
- When the new season’s clothes arrive in your favorite stores, copy model numbers and manufacturers of pieces you like. Do a Google search. Sometimes the most incredible bargains pop up.
- Discount building supply stores, often local or regional businesses, offer unique treasures if you need tile, a custom-built fireplace surround, or myriad other builder items. You can find discontinued colors, which may be virtually identical to a different, much pricier, item you’ve been considering. They buy close-out stock from stores and manufacturers changing their inventory.
- Learn your way around the eBay and Amazon marketplaces. Not only can you find bargains in every imaginable merchandise category, you can often find items which are extinct in local stores.
- Better linens and other household furnishings at low prices are available from SmartBargains.com. Horchow puts each department (including furniture) and the whole site on sale regularly. Combine sale prices with free shipping for stellar savings.
- Need sports equipment? Garage and estate sales in upscale neighborhoods can be perfect places to discover good equipment at low prices. And Play It Again Sports offers a wide selection of used, better quality, gear.
- New and used textbooks are available from Amazon, which offers much lower prices than most local and campus vendors. If your book list includes the ISBN number, it will make finding the correct book easier when there are multiple similar titles. With a purchase greater than $25, shipping will probably be free.
- Watch for toiletry deep discounts combined with free shipping on Drugstore.com.
- Do skip the designer coffee. Either make your own and carry it in a designer thermal cup or join the CNBC folks raving about the quality of McCoffee.
Being a bargain-hunter is a state of mind best enjoyed when you feel triumphant because you saved money. You can have exquisite taste while maintaining a saver’s spending plan. By establishing an e-mail address specifically for your junk mail, you’ll be able to sign up for sale notices at stores and on Web sites, and have them sent to your junk mail address. It’s a great way to find bargains while avoiding a logjam on your personal e-mail account.