The only one who will ever truly put your financial
well-being first is you. When you arm yourself with facts,
and you develop your money-making strategies, you'll see
that it is much less of a chore (and much more fun) to take
control of your finances than you might think. You can make
yourself a better shopper and that's what it's all about.

1. Be persistent, but cordial. When you aren't getting the
attention, service, or value you think you deserve, let
someone in charge know about it. Don't give up easily.
Continue calling, writing, or showing up in person until
you receive satisfaction.

2. Learn the return policies of the stores you shop. Make
sure you retain the documents that will allow you a full
refund or exchange if you need it.

3. Watch for "after-the-fact" sales on items you purchase.
Some stores will refund the difference in price.

4. Shop outlet malls cautiously. You may live too far away
to return an item you purchased there. So be sure of fit
and quality before leaving an outlet store.

5. Make certain an outlet is really an outlet. A true
outlet is a store that sells a manufacturer's merchandise
direct to the public. In other words, there's no retailer
to take its profits. So you can, for instance, buy Sears
power tools at that company's outlet at prices that are
20-percent less than you could buy those same tools at a
general merchandise retail store.

6. It's the price, not the markdown ("reduced 30%) that
you're interested in. Even after a markdown, an item may be
higher in price than a similar item at another store.

7. Shop early in the day. If you're there when the store
opens in the morning, you'll usually get better service,
which can translate into bigger savings.

8. Make friends with salespersons. They can alert you to
upcoming sales, or they can hold items on sale until you
get there.

9. If you're offered a refund or store credit for a
returned item, take the refund. With a credit, you are
letting the store hold your money for an indefinite period
- and maybe forever.

10. For apparel, shop off-season when possible. By doing
so, you can save 30 percent or more on coats, up to 50
percent on suits (both men's and women's), more than 40
percent on sweaters, and about30 percent on pants.

11. For fruits and vegetables, shop in-season. Plan your
meals to take advantage of plentiful supplies of fresh
foods (including meats).

12. Before you buy a refrigerator, television set, or other
big ticket item, check stores with a
"price-that-can't-be-beat" guarantee. Then comparison shop
at other stores. With proper documentation (tags or
advertisements), you're always assured of the lowest price.

13. Avoid so called "bells and whistles" on electronic
equipment and appliances. Most will be rarely used, and
they'll add to the cost when purchased and when repairs are

14. You can save more than $100 a year in fees be selecting
a checking account with minimum balance requirement that
you can, and do, meet. Compare banks by learning the fees
they charge and the fees they could charge (for an
overdraft, for example), then go with the bank where you
can save the most. If all things are about equal, go with
the bank that's most convenient to your home or work-place.

15. Take advantage of loss leaders, but be careful that
while shopping for the loss leader products you don't buy
something else you really don't need.

16. Never pay full price unless you are sure you have no
other option. It never hurts to ask for a discount.

17. If you need an item urgently - especially one that you
may use only once or twice - consider borrowing it instead
of rushing out to buying it.

18. Rental car companies offer various insurance and waiver
options. Check with your insurance agent and credit-card
company in advance to avoid duplicating any coverage you
may already have.

19. A home energy audit can identify ways to save hundreds
of dollars a year on home heating and air conditioning. Ask
your electric or gas utility to conduct this audit (which
should be free or cost only a reasonable amount). If not
satisfied with such an audit, find a qualified professional.

20. Workplace savings: Bring your lunch to work. Join a car
pool or take public transportation. Cut back on eating
lunch out.

Only you can decide which type of investment, or which
mixture, is right for you. For most, all these savings
ideas, if implemented, can amount to nearly $10,000 a year
in savings.

Author's Bio: 

Steven Boaze is a certified business consultant. He can be reached at