5 Tips for: Uncovering the Best Bargains and Spending Less

If you want to pay less every time you pull out your wallet, try these smart strategies on your daily rounds. Learn to shop smart and spend less at the mall, the big-box stores, the gas station, the pharmacy, and at warehouse stores.

Track Sales at the Mall 

Many clothing departments mark down items four to six weeks after introducing a new line. Observe your favorite store's schedule, or ask a friendly salesperson about the best times to find deals.

Check the Labels 
Alterations and dry-cleaning bills add up. If the pants you covet need tailoring or you notice a "dry-clean only" tag, think about whether you'll really want to pay for those services in the future.

Find Printable Coupons 
Join store e-mail lists and check your in-box for coupons. Also try searching "printable coupons" and the store name on Google, and print your findings before you head out.

Keep Your Eye Out for Damaged Goods 

Politely request a discount if you see a small imperfection, such as a scratch on a leather handbag or a tear in the fabric. Store managers usually give a reduction for flawed merchandise.

Shop with a Mall Plan 
If going to the mall is a leisure activity for you and your family, you're more likely to drop lots of cash at the food court, on a movie, in the arcade or on a new outfit. Train yourself to hit the mall only when you need to make a purchase. Draw up a shopping list and decide which stores you'll visit-and don't wander. That way, you won't be tempted to make an impulse purchase.