Cutting Costs

Few things in life are free, but some products and services can be bought at significantly discounted prices if you’re willing to make a sacrifice or two.

Electronics Savings: Planning to buy a new television, computer, or other electronics? Many stores sell display models for 10% to 20% savings since the product is technically “used.” Jim Babb, a spokesman for Richmond, Virginia-based Circuit City Stores Inc., says, “We call these products ‘open box savings,’ and the size of the discount depends on the product.”

While Circuit City’s open box products all carry full manufacturers’ warranties, other stores may have a different policy. So be sure to ask if you’re forfeiting any benefits offered to customers who pay full price.

Personal Care Cutbacks: If you’re the type who likes to pamper yourself with spa services, look for the nearest school for estheticians (also check out Spa Week on the previous page). Many cosmetology schools that teach such skills as hair, nail, and skincare offer services at a discount so that students have customers on whom they can hone their skills.

For example, the Georgetown Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa in Washington, D.C., charges $120 for its Elemental Nature Facial for Radiant Skin, while the Aveda Institute, a training facility in Washington, D.C., charges $50 for the same service.

However, be cautious about having chemical products applied such as hair relaxers, advises Torrence Wimbish, manager of Salon Plaza in Largo, Maryland. “Though students may have practiced on [mannequins], it’s a different ball game when you actually have to put a chemical on a human,” he says.

Thrifty Sites: Visit Websites such as to find consignment shops that offer savings on secondhand clothing and goods such as office furniture and household items. The merchandise is typically in good condition, though you should ask about and be comfortable with the return policy before making a purchase.

Dental Schools: Finally, certain medical services such as dental care can be accessed at a discount by going to a local dental school such as the University of Pennsylvania Dental School Clinics ( clinics/clinic.html) and the Howard University College of Dentistry ( Students are supervised by licensed dental care providers, but do make sure the dental program is accredited by checking with the American Dental Association at