Ways to Save Money

Why have ways to save money on a site about ways to make money? Because saving money is like making more. When I found a way to pay $413 to go to Ecuador, instead of the lowest online quote of $1700, it meant over $1200 extra in my pocket - and for a lot less effort than making that much at work.

Dollar Store Deals and Ripoffs

Some of the best dollar store deals are overstock and closeout items that are distributed through these outlets. That's because they go cheap at the wholesale level, so you can find some quality merchandise for much less than normal--for a dollar. For example, polished granite "eggs" were popular briefly a few years back, and were selling for $15 at gift shops. Some store or middleman went out of business, and so they were also available (at the same time) for $1 in the local dollar store where I lived.


The dollar store ripoffs include many of the items that are specifically manufactured for these stores. Some dollar hand tools, for example, will fall apart the first time you try to use them. here's a look at some more dollar deals and ripoffs.

Dollar Store Deals

Window cleaners - There is little to mess up with the making of window cleaning solution, and it often cost less at dollar stores than anywhere else.

Other cleaning solutions - Other cleaners are also normally cheapest at these stores, but you'll have to test them one by one to see which are of decent quality.

Gift bags - Much easier than wrapping things, and these colorful bags will usually cost at least $2 in other stores.

Greeting cards - Quality of the paper is not an issue with greeting cards, and it is rare to find them for a dollar at other stores.

Glassware - You can get glasses cheap at other stores, but usually only by buying a large set.

Picture frames - Although they can be low quality, you can generally tell by looking at them, and it doesn't get cheaper than than this for a wooden frame.

Hand mirrors - Try to find one for a dollar anywhere else.

Brooms - The quality is very low usually, but these are a great buy for spares to use for garages and sheds.

Storage bins - The plastic storage bins are not strong, but they work well for many purposes.

Decorations - Since most ribbons and other decorations are thrown out after parties, why pay more?

Dollar Store Ripoffs

Paper products - The trick here is using low-quality paper for napkins and toilet paper, making them look like a normal size package while actually having far less product than normal. There may be exceptions (there can always be closeouts on quality paper plates or paper towels, after all), but generally these are a ripoff.

Dish washing detergent - The quality might be okay, but the bottles sold are often very small, and it is cheaper per-ounce to buy a larger bottle at any other store.

Knives - The quality is low enough to be dangerous when it comes to most dollar store knives, both for the kitchen and pocket knives.

Candy - Most of the packages contain less candy than you might think, making it expensive compared to buying bigger bags in a supermarket.

Batteries - There are exceptions, but the batteries sold in these places are often the lowest-quality thing that can be called (just barely) a battery.

Bottled water - It is cheaper in bulk in other places, and I'm not sure I would trust dollar store water.

Toys - It looks like there are some great deals here, and there may be a few, but most of these items break easily and often have flaws from the start. Then there is the possibility of lead in children's toys that come from China.

Extension cords - Low quality, and possibly dangerous.

Pet food - These stores can be a dumping ground for low-quality pet food that can't be sold elsewhere.

People food - Smaller-than-normal sizes make many foods less of a deal than they appear to be, and labels are often designed to look like they are a name brand when they are not.

There can always be exceptions to these dollar store deals and ripoffs. Those cheap brooms might be so low quality that they fall apart after one use (I've had it happen), and a store can sometimes get a cheap closeout supply of high-quality name brand food or merchandise.

How to Save Money on a Pool Purchase

How do you save money on a pool purchase? Shopping for a great sale or negotiating a lower price are two ways that come to mind. But there are more fundamental ways to save money on any large purchase that have to be addressed first.

Pool Purchase - Questions to Ask

Think carefully about how you will use the pool, and what your true purposes are. Do you just want a way to cool off in the summer? Or do you want something to use year-round? Do you want the pool primarily for your own use or for parties with friends? Do you want a pool to impress people (a far more common purpose than you might think)? If the latter is the case, it will be especially difficult to save money.

Before I go any further, I have to tell a short story. I was at the house of a friend the other day and as we stood there in the 95-degree heat I noticed that his swimming pool was empty. It was just one of those free-standing pools that costs a few hundred dollars, but it seemed a waste to not be using it.

His daughter had been gone for a couple weeks, and since she was the only one that really used it, he decided to drain it. It had been collecting dust and leaves and growing slime. That was earlier in the summer. Although his daughter had been back for a month, he just hadn't gotten around to cleaning it and filling it up again.

Now, there are important two lessons here. First, that a pool is a lot of work, and unless you can afford to hire a pool maintenance company, you get to do that work. There is cleaning, emptying, filling, adding chemicals on schedule, replacing parts and making repairs.

The second point is that we all tend to overestimate how often we will actually use the things we buy. This is especially true with large purchases like pools. You might imagine yourself coming home every summer day to take a swim, but the reality is usually something else. Although I have not seen a survey done on this, I see a lot of pools around that are mostly decorative. I suspect that many people use their pools about once or twice per week or less during summer.

That brings us to the most fundamental way to save money on a pool purchase: Don't make it. I can't speak for you, and it is possible that you'll get every bit of value from that pool that you hope to get. But you might want to at east do some realistic calculation before you make the decision.

For example, suppose you have an in-ground pool built for $30,000 in your backyard, with a nice deck and all. You roll the cost into a home refinance. Of course that means that your true cost with interest will be closer to $65,000 (30 year 6% loan). Then there are the other costs. Water, cleaning, repairs, chemicals, added property tax due to the home value going up. These probably will add another $1,200 per year even though you only get to use the pool for a few months each year unless you live in a warm climate.

Now suppose that you use the pool more than most - we'll say several times weekly for four full months each year. Your net cost per use will be lower than most people's then - maybe only $20 to $30 per hour. That's still pretty expensive, isn't it? It might make more sense to go to a water park several times each summer. Certainly the kids will like that, and it almost certainly will cost less in the long run.

There is one more issue here. If you spent a thousand dollars each summer going to public pools and water arks and beaches, you always have the option of discontinuing this expense if times get tough. It is much harder to stop paying on that loan and stop maintaining that pool. That's worth thinking about unless you have a lot of money and your income is very secure. To save money on a pool purchase then, seriously consider just saying no.