Savvy Consumer: Web offers ways to live well for lessGetting by on less has become the status quo in recent years. Now, as the economy improves, there’s a bonus to that: Smart penny-pinchers have figured out the twists on savings strategies that make a tight budget work in their favor, shaving up to 50 percent off retail.
By: Good Housekeeping Reports, INFORUM
Getting by on less has become the status quo in recent years. Now, as the economy improves, there’s a bonus to that: Smart penny-pinchers have figured out the twists on savings strategies that make a tight budget work in their favor, shaving up to 50 percent off retail. Good Housekeeping offers six new tricks that require only basic Web-surfing skills.
- Work your social-networking sites: Even if you’re not interested in tweeting random thoughts or “liking” other people’s status updates, there’s still reason to sign up for sites like Twitter and Facebook: Doing so will save you money. Some leading brands and retailers offer coupons and discounts that you won’t find anywhere else, such as a recent 20 percent off American Eagle Outfitters apparel or a pack of Tide laundry capsules for free as part of the brand’s Stain Release Challenge. To get the deals, “click the Like button to follow your favorite brands,” says Dianna Baros of the budgetbabe.com, a fashion blog that compiles Internet bargains. Then, whenever you visit social-networking sites, any updates from your chosen companies show up.
- Snag the deal of the day: Wouldn’t you prefer to spend $25 instead of $75 for two hours of bowling, plus shoe rental, for five people? “That was my idea of a great Friday night,” says Gillian Small of Madison, N.J., who bought the deal online at Groupon. Such amazing low-cost offers are the hallmark of Groupon, LivingSocial, Tippr and other sites that offer limited-time (usually 24-hour) windows to buy discount vouchers for local businesses – typically restaurants, spas, boutiques and gyms. Deals of 50 percent or more off are common. Sign up for free at individual sites to get their daily emails, or visit dealradar.com or 8coupons.com, which will send you a daily email for all the offers near you – in a city, there can be hundreds.
- Find a flash sale: If you’ve saved your pennies and are ready to splurge on a treat, like a new outfit, check out flash-sale sites that offer a twist on the daily-deal scheme. Gilt City, HauteLook, Beyond the Rack and others frequently debut new sales, which stay available on the site for two or more days or until the wares sell out, whichever comes first, Baros explains. Discounts can run as high as 70 percent, and hot sales are gone in minutes. Just be wary of impulse buys. Refunds aren’t always an option.
- Check in for freebies: When your favorite retailers know you’re nearby, they may offer you special deals to entice you to spend with them. If you have a smartphone, simply download free apps like Foursquare, Google Latitude, Shopkick and Facebook. You can choose to let these programs “know” where you are, courtesy of your phone’s GPS feature; the tempting offers appear when you are near a business.
- Snag a gift card on the cheap: If you want to get $100 worth of items at your favorite store for $80, you can – and you don’t even have to wait for a sale. Sites like plasticjungle.com sell gift cards for less than face value. The discount can make a big difference, whether you’re looking for blush at Sephora or silver earrings from Tiffany & Co. Target gift cards usually sell at a 3 percent discount, and those from movie ticketer Fandango for 11 percent off.
On another matter ...
For a smoother complexion – and better health keep these foods to a minimum:
- Sugar: Sweets and other refined carbs raise blood-glucose levels, which in turn increases the creation of AGEs – advanced glycation end products. The aptly named AGEs take a toll on skin by interfering with the normal repair of collagen and elastin, a protein that allows skin to resume its shape after stretching or contracting.
- Saturated fat: Beyond its role in promoting heart disease, saturated fat – the type found in marbled meats and full-fat dairy products - may also make you look older.
- Alcohol: Perhaps you’ve woken up after a night of margaritas desperate for water. That’s a sign of dehydration. And even if you don’t regularly drink to excess, alcohol can still take a toll on your skin, making it dry, taut and lined. Also, as the liver metabolizes alcohol, it creates free radicals – that other enemy of youthful skin.
The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, (800) 638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.
- Scoot ‘n Zoom (model No. 711) children’s toy. Sold at Walmart and other retailers, and online at Amazon.com and Target.com from August 2010 through August 2011 for about $20.
The riding toy can tip over, allowing a child to fall forward while riding, posing a fall hazard to young kids. Consumers should take the toy away from children and contact Radio Flyer to receive a free replacement or refund. You may contact Radio Flyer at (800) 621-7613 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s website at: www.radioflyer.com.
- 2012 Nissan Altima, 2012 Nissan NV.
In some of these vehicles, the air bag control unit (ACU) was assembled incorrectly. This means that the affected ACU will not operate as designed, causing an air bag not inflating in a crash. This could increase the risk of injury. Owners may contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236. They may also contact Nissan at (800) 647-7261 to replace the air bag control free of charge.