Millions are looking for ways to shave dollars and dimes from their daily expenses. To share your own tips, send us an e-mail telling us how you save. You can save money on everything, but here's how you can get started saving when you shop.
“Scratch and dent” stores sell groceries and appliances discounted by 50 percent or more. They buy up truckloads of items that are damaged, are near or beyond their sell-by dates or season (think Halloween in November), or just didn’t sell well. See a state-by-state list.
Save cellphone minutes by skipping long-winded voice-mail greetings and instructions. Press * when calling Verizon customers, the number 1 for Sprint users, or the # sign for AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers. If you’re not sure of the provider, try this order: 1, then *, then #. When you hear a beep, you’ve got the right one.
Trade in electronics like old cellphones and computers at wireflytradeins.com or tigerdirect.cexchange.com and get a charity write-off, cash or gift cards. Costco, Best Buy and Sears also have electronics trade-in programs.
To save on groceries, check out mygrocerydeals.com, where you can compare prices in supermarkets in your area by product, category or store. Another site is groceryguide.com. You must register to use the sites, but both are free.
Group-coupon websites prove there’s power in numbers. Provide your e-mail and city and you’ll get a daily local offer. If a set number of people sign up, you get the deal. Sites include groupon.com, socialbuy.com, scoopst.com and angieslist.com.
See plays for free by volunteering as an usher. Many theaters will let you see the show if you help with the paying patrons. Check with your local theater, and wear comfortable shoes—you may end up standing for the performance.
Owner’s manuals are often missing when you buy bargain electronic devices or appliances at online auctions or garage sales. Manufacturers may charge for the manuals, but you can get many for free at retrevo.com, manualsonline.com or usersmanualguide.com.
Get rewards for online shopping from ebates.com. You register and then click to visit any of about 1,000 partner retailers. You can collect a reward of from 1 to (very occasionally) 40 percent of your purchase amount. The money arrives as a check or a credit to your PayPal account.
Promotional codes can get you discounts of up to 50 percent when you check out at online shopping sites. Though some codes are for returning loyal customers, others are up for grabs—you just have to know where to find them. Try these websites: retailmenot.com, couponchief.com, currentcodes.com and freeshipping.org.
Snag great stuff at secondhand shops. Donations are often local, so head for thrift stores in wealthier neighborhoods. Find stores at thethriftshopper.com or thrift-shop-directory.com. Also, shop early in the week—many donations come in over the weekend. And watch for hidden bargains. Thrift stores often set prices by category, say, $3 per shirt no matter what the brand.
Avoid high ticket prices for plays, concerts, sports matches, exhibits and other events in eight major U.S. cities by getting a free membership at goldstar.com. This online seller of half-price tickets levies a service charge that averages about $4.50 per ticket. The theater chooses the seats. Other websites such as ticketloot.com can also get you through the doors at a lower price.
Keep your eyes glued to the register at the supermarket. Some stores have a “scan guarantee policy,” which means you get the item for free or at a discount if the price the register displays is higher than the real price.
Take advantage of discounts offered through “your” organizations. AAA, AFL-CIO unions, AARP and college alumni associations are among many groups that offer savings. Read their mailings closely and check their websites.
Need a phone number? Call 1-800-GOOG-411, give your location, and speak a name or business category. You’ll get a list of matches, and the service then will dial your choice. The big advantage over 411: It’s free.