10 Tips to Bag a Bargain

1. Read the Ads: Read the local newspaper, or store brochures to find out what is on sale and when. Combine money saving coupons with sales for extra savings. A lot of stores now offer their coupons online for extra convenience.

2. Evaluate the Deals: Ready-Set-Shop… but with an open mind. If you find a better deal on an item go ahead and substitute. Compare the deals in the store.

3. Research the Right Product: An off-brand furniture polish might work just as well as another more expensive name brand cleaner. Also, you can save money on grocery items by comparing unit price or price by the ounce. To find the unit price, divide the total cost of the item by the number of ounces: a pound package of pasta that costs $1.60 carries a unit price of 10 cents. However, for those of us who are on a tight timeframe, many areas require the stores to post the unit prices on the tags. The type is tiny, but the information is located in the small print! Continuing, you’ll also want to make sense of multiple pricing. Offering products at prices like "2 for $7" or "3 for $5" are designed to do two things: obscure the true price of a single item, and pressure shoppers into buying more than one.

4. Save with “Triple Plays” Many grocery stores double coupons, but some will even triple them from time to time. Increase your savings by combining a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for the same item; or take it to the savings extreme by combining a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon, a sale, and a rebate.

5. Be an Early Bird: Wake up early and get those savings! Some stores offer huge sales in accordance with the holiday, or during certain times of the day for a few hours. Go there early in order to bag the best deals on items. Success comes to those who prepare and put in the extra effort. So roll up your sleeves, read the papers, and find those coupons

6. Beat the Early Birds: Beat the early birds by stocking up on items that you use frequently when they are on sale! Deals change frequently. Pick up papers as you travel as coupons and sales usually vary from region to region, combine BOGO (by one get one) sales with buy one get one free coupon, and coupon the clearance racks for more savings.

7. Check the Return Policy: Just how long do you have to return an item? Are all sales final after purchase? These are important questions. Some stores require you to have the proof of purchase (receipt) for the item that you have bought in order for it to be returned. Other stores will accept the item, but take it for the lowest sales value. Often stores have a certain time period in order for an item to be returned, so make sure you know how long you have to return an item before you buy it.

8. Get a Gift Receipt: As much as we try to get the perfect gift for everyone, each year a large number of individuals get a gift that is the wrong size, something they already have, or something that they do not want. For that reason, a large number of gift recipients end up taking their gifts back. Give a gift receipt along with the gifts that you give, and ask for gift receipts. There’s no sense in keeping an item that you cannot use or don’t want.

9. Use the Right Credit Card: Buyer Beware! It is easy to buy, and keep on buying during the holiday season. Compare the interest rates on your credit cards. Carry just one, and make sure to think who you are buying the item for, what it is, how long it will take to pay it off and why you are buying the item. A lot of retail store credit cards have higher interest rates, so be sure to understand and compare them.

10. Save more with Price Guarantees: low-price guarantees have the potential to offer a good value; but, they require research, personal advocacy, patience, and lots of follow-ups. No two guarantees are exactly alike, and what gets you a refund at one store may not hold any weight with another. Read up and research for the best guarantees.

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