Just because the economy looks bleak doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. With a little creativity, you can live a rich life without being rich — try ideas:
1. Plan a swap meet. Organize a group of friends with similar styles; everyone brings rarely or unworn clothing and walks away with some new (to them) styles.
2. Put the web to work for you. Before shelling out full price, check eBay, where a slightly used or even brand new version may be available for a fraction of the price. You can even request that the site email you when the item you’re looking for becomes available. If you can’t wait, do a search to see if any coupon sites have codes for free shipping or discounts.
3. Learn the art of the haggle. “No matter where or when you’re shopping, or for what, the day of the fixed price is over,” says Fred Brock, author of Live Well on Less Than You Think. “If you don’t ask, ‘Is that the best you can do?’ you’re doing yourself a disservice, especially with big-ticket items, including home appliances and furniture.”
4. Butter up your favorite brands. Companies love hearing from loyal customers and will often send them coupons or free samples, reports Brock. Pen an enthusiastic letter or e-mail to the customer service department of your favorite conditioner, snack food, or cleaning product; it could save you cash while you continue to enjoy name-brand products.