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9 Rules for Becoming a Better Bargain Hunter

Ingenuity, resourcefulness, and sometimes a little boldness: That’s what a great bargain hunter is made of. Do you have what it takes to seek and secure sales and steals? Read on for the rules bargain hunters live by.

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1. Nothing Is A Bargain If You Don’t Need It

Consider whether you actually need and will use the item you are about to buy, even if you’re parting with only a dollar or two. You’ve come across a beautiful set of antique andirons for next to nothing at a flea market? Wonderful, but remember, you don’t have a fireplace. So you’re not really getting a bargain at all-in fact, you’re throwing away your hard-earned money.

 

You’ll be getting a true bargain if you buy something you need at a good price, or find it for free-like $1 off the price of a box of breakfast cereal, or some free samples of shampoo and conditioner, or a loan guaranty that allows you to buy a house without a down payment.

 

 

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2. It Pays To Think Outside The Box

A little creativity can save you an awful lot of money. You know those handy disinfectant wipes you use around the house? You pay about $0.13 apiece for them. Not a fortune, to be sure, but you can make your own simply by soaking paper towels with Lysol-for about $0.03. Do the math: You’re saving $0.10 a wipe, and that adds up quickly, especially if you’re a good housekeeper who enjoys having a house that sparkles.

 

Looking for some inexpensive entertainment? Before you head down to the local cineplex, think about new ways to have some fun. Consider sitting in on a reading at your local bookstore, enjoying a band concert in the park around the corner, or taking in a free movie under the stars, something that many communities offer during the summer.� You get the idea. Be creative and see what money-saving techniques you come up with.

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3. Discover The Saving Possibilities

You’re probably already aware that seniors, members of the military, and students are eligible for discounts at theaters, museums, amusement parks, and many other places, but did you know that in many cases veterans, educators, firefighters, and other municipal employees are also entitled to discounts on goods and services that range from cruises to hotel rooms, rental cars, and housing? Consider just a few of the many entitlements that might save you hundreds and, in many cases, thousands of dollars.

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4. It Never Hurts To Ask For A Deal

In many cases, the old saying “Ask and ye shall receive” really does pay off. If you’re thinking about joining a gym, ask for a complimentary 10-day or two-week trial pass so you can get to know a club before you sign up. Or maybe a free or discounted health-club membership comes with your job, or maybe your local school lets neighborhood residents use its gym and pool for free. Just ask. You might be able to rack up substantial savings simply by inquiring about job-related discounts whenever you purchase a product or service.

 

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5. Get In Touch With Your “Master Negotiator”

When you are bargaining, you don’t always have to haggle like a camel driver, but a little crafty negotiating can save you lots of money. If you’ve ever bought a car, you’ve probably already earned your stripes matching wits with some of the craftiest sales folks on earth, and you probably didn’t think twice about offering less than the asking price of your house. The same willingness to wheel and deal can come in handy in many other situations.

 

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Photo: Thinkstock

6. Sometimes It Pays To Be A Risk-Taker

Not that you should ever be reckless with your insurance protection and other tools that help keep you financially solvent, but sometimes you can save money in the long run by choosing what might seem to be the riskier option.

 

For example: If you’ve never had an accident and only drive to church on Sundays, you may be better off opting for a higher deductible and lower monthly rates on your auto insurance. Increasing your deductible from $200 to $1,000 can slash the cost for collision and comprehensive coverage by up to 40 percent or more. Raising the deductible on a homeowners policy from $250 to $2,500 can cut premiums by 30 percent.

 

 

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7. A Little Common Sense Can Save You A Lot Of Money

Saving money isn’t rocket science. Sure, it pays to learn about discounts and other money-savers, as you’ll do in this book, but sometimes you can save money just by taking the time to think. Consider, for instance: While we all like to patronize the gas station that charges less, you’re not saving any money, and might be spending more, if you have to drive considerably out of your way to fill the tank. Likewise, you can cut your trips to the pump pretty dramatically just by combining errands and keeping the gas guzzler in the driveway more of the time.

 

We all want to keep our cholesterol levels down, and we all know that egg yolks contain cholesterol. So, the answer is to buy egg substitutes, right? Wrong, because these products, most of which consist mainly of egg whites, are expensive. Instead simply separate the whites from the yolks yourself by straining the eggs through your fingers or using a low-cost egg separator-in other words, create your own cholesterol-free eggs.

 

 

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8. Staying Informed Can Lead You To Big Savings

New federal, provincial, and local programs appear regularly, and the benefits they offer can change frequently. Likewise, new or amended laws and regulations can affect how much you spend for everything from interest on your credit card loans to your university education.

 

Keep informed to protect yourself against financial mishaps, and also to take advantage of opportunities.

 

 

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9. Don’t Rush In

Remember the andirons in Rule 1? Those would fall into the category of an impulse buy, snapped up without much thought about whether you really need it. If you make rash buying decisions, the consequences could be a lot more dire than a set of superfluous andirons. You could end up with features on a new car that you don’t need and can’t really afford, or an interest rate on a home loan that’s much higher than your budget allows. That’s why you should never simply hand over the cash or sign on the dotted line if you’re feeling rushed or less than 100 percent sure of what you’re doing.

 

By following these 9 easy guidlines, you’ll be well on your way to coming a better bargain hunter.