I love that there’s a magazine called “Good Housekeeping.” I have aspirations to one day be a good housekeeper, but while my kids are young, I’m probably better suited to a magazine called “Good Enough Housekeeping.” Actually, “Housekeeping Good Enough to Keep Child Protective Services Away” is probably more like it.
But the magazine and its Good Housekeeping Research Institute focus on more than just floor wax and dusting techniques. It has been around since 1885, and has learned a thing or two about home economics over those 130 years.
Much of that information is compiled in a book from its editors called “Good Deals & Smart Steals: How to Save Money on Everything.” Here are some of my favorite tidbits.
• Negotiate everyday prices. Shop on weekend mornings when customer traffic is slow. Politely ask for a lower price. Don’t say you can’t afford an item if you can. Rather, say, “That’s more than I am willing to pay. Can you come down a little?” Ask when the item will go on sale – an associate who works on commission may be willing to drop the price if they know you’re just going to come back and buy it from someone else when the price drops. The average sales associate at a corporate chain may not have the power to mark down prices, but a manager often can. If you can’t get a discount on the price, try to negotiate a free accessory or free delivery.
• Register your credit and debit cards with Upromise.com. When you make qualifying purchases, a percentage of what you spend will automatically be routed to your account, which can then be funneled into a college savings account. You’ll rack up contributions for your children’s or grandchildren’s education with very little effort.
• Don’t buy anything online without starting at a shopping portal. When shopping online, go to a rebate website such as Swagbucks.com or Ebates.com first, then click through to the store from there. You can regularly get from 4 percent to 10 percent cash back.
• Shop carefully at wholesale clubs. Not everything is a good deal, and not everything is suited to be bought in bulk. You’ll typically find the best prices on milk, spaghetti sauce, microwave popcorn, peanut butter, juice boxes, pickles, sugar-free sweeteners, instant hot chocolate, gas, brand-name clothing, baby wipes, Christmas decorations, laundry detergent, tires and batteries.
• Be a treehugger. When you become a member of the National Arbor Day Foundation for $10, you’ll get 10 free tree saplings and discounts on hundreds more. Trees provide long-term economic benefits, too, such as lower cooling costs in the summer and increased home resale value.
• Pay attention at the cash register. If items are discounted on the shelf, write the amount on your shopping list so you can reference it as your order is rung up. Group discounted items together in your cart and on the conveyer belt, too, so you can keep track of them.
In Erie County, if you’re charged more for an item than the price labeled on the shelf, you’re due a “super refund,” which gives you 10 times the amount you were overcharged, or $10 – whichever is smaller. Some stores outside Erie County have their own scanner accuracy policies, such as Wegmans on Military Road in Niagara Falls, which refunds the amount you were overcharged, plus $1.
Not everything is a good deal when you shop at a wholesale club.