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How to Get More for Your Money

Almost everyone wants to get the most bang for the buck when they shop. Whether it's food, clothing, an automobile, or even a new home, you want to get the best quality available at a reasonable cost. By learning to balance quality and cost effectively you can determine when to spend a bit more for an item or when to look for something less expensive.

The following ideas can help you decide when to pay a little extra or when to look for bargains.

  • At the grocery. People spend a lot of time and money at the grocery store. But there are ways to fill your cart for less. Buy store brands. These products usually have the same quality ingredients as the national brands but cost a lot less. Try different cuts of meat and poultry. Boneless chicken can cost up to twice the price per pound as bone-in. Many less expensive cuts of beef can be slow cooked and are quite delicious. Buying filet mignon and boneless, skinless chicken (because you don't think any other cuts are good) can wreck your food budget.
  • At the pharmacy. Always ask your physician for a generic drug prescription, if possible. Almost half of the prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs. This can result in significant savings especially if you take a certain drug for a chronic condition.
  • At the car dealership. Purchasing a car is a big expense and a big decision. Many people still consider a used car as a "clunker" but that's not always the case in today's car market. Consider these facts before making a decision:
    1. Your used car may cost less to buy but you could be looking at more maintenance and repair costs down the road. Do some research about the vehicle online and check its reliability record. Depending on the age of the used car, it may still be under factory warranty. Also, insurance is usually quite a bit less for a used car.
    2. If you have a specific color, interior, or stereo system that you want, you will probably be looking at a new car. You will have to make the decision as to whether getting exactly what you want is worth the extra cost.
    3. New cars today come with factory warranties that vary among manufacturers. Before buying an extended warranty package, research the details. Sometimes the costs of these extensions are more than you would pay for normal parts and services.

Things (Maybe) Worth Paying More For

  • Tools. Inferior tools may not get the job done, either in the garage or in the kitchen. Whatever you are doing will probably take a longer time and the results will not be as good. You can still look for name-brand, high-quality products at discount stores and outlets.
  • Your Neighborhood. It matters where you live. If a certain location offers everything you want in terms of an apartment or home, retails shops, dining, or parks, you have to decide if the extra rent is worth it. The old saying "location is everything" is true- and it usually comes with a higher price tag.
  • Electronics. There can be a marked difference in the quality of electronics between big name brands and off-brands. Read the reviews and determine which is the better deal for you.
  • Appliances. Energy efficient appliances usually cost more up front, but they offer significant savings on utility bills for many years to come. Try to purchase what you need during one of the big annual sales events or consider buying a floor model.

Only you can determine how you want to spend your money. But real savings can be had by taking a fresh approach to how you shop. Buying store brands, using generic drugs, shopping at outlet stores and discount retailers- all of these can be positive changes in your spending habits. Remember you don't always have to forsake quality when you spend less.