The Art Of Living Thriftily

Part of being a smart investor is adopting consumer-shopping habits to help you save money

It’s cheaper and more nutritious than dining out. Wash clothes by hand whenever possible. Check out the DollarStretcher newsletter online at www.stretcher.com or The Consumer Bible: 1001 Ways to Shop Smart by Mark J. Green (Workman Publishing, $15.95) for ways to grow your income without reducing your standard of living.

Leave your credit cards at home. Carry only enough cash for daily expenses. Limit trips to the cash machine (ATM)–you’ll save on bank fees.

Research products and services. Use the Internet, consumer magazines, and referrals from friends and family for price and product comparisons, especially for big-ticket items. The more money you plan to spend, the more you need to research the product or service. Sheila Adkins, public affairs manager with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, cautions, “Use sources that are legitimate or that you’re familiar with. Just because it’s on the Internet, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.”

Shop off-season. Shop for snow shovels, heaters, snow boots, gloves, and scarves during the summer. Winter is an ideal time for saving on fans, air conditioners, barbecue grills, lawn mowers, and swimming pool equipment. Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and decorations are sold at half price after December 25. White sales on linens typically start in January.

Examine your motives. Don’t buy products to bolster your self-esteem or self-worth. Buy items critical to your survival, such as food, shelter, and health products. If you’re convinced you need a cell phone, choose a basic phone and the cheapest plan.

Buy goods and services intelligently. Adkins stresses that you know your rights as a consumer. Understand all warranties and return policies before you make a purchase to avoid falling prey to scams. Many items come with manufacturer’s warranties that make additional warranty coverage unnecessary.

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