The Best Sites for Bargains

What’s your best weapon for the bargain hunt? Your web browser, of course.
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Travel Steals

1. These days, it seems like finding a cheap flight is as rare as getting bumped to first class. We jumped after hearing about Spirit Airlines’ $9 Fare Club (yep, $9 – not a typo!) For an annual fee of $39.95, you’ll get hotel and rental car discounts and e-mail notifications about member-only fare sales. The site claims you can find flights as low as $0.01, and we’ve heard rumors of a $13 ticket from New York City to Ft. Lauderdale. Worried the deal won’t apply to your group outing with the girls? Everyone in your party is privy to the rate, as long as the member is doing the booking. 2. Cruises are cheaper now than ever. CheapTickets has cruise listings from Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney Cruise Lines. Searching is easy: enter your desired departure date, trip length and what area you’d like to find yourself relaxing in. Traditional Mexican and Caribbean routes are listed alongside Alaskan, European and South Pacific trips. A quick click showed us a 4-day Bahamas cruise at $199 for an interior cabin. 3. Take a break from hotels and book your next vacation at a privately owned home. You can often stay longer for less and enjoy a sense of privacy, not to mention a full kitchen, DVD-stocked living room and beer left over from the last vacationing family! It’s a bargain because private owners are more willing to make deals than a corporate hotel. Find spaces you’re interested in and contact the realtor or owner. Pit different options against each other (don’t be afraid to mention a competing location you’ve been in touch with or to ask about throwing in a few extra days.)
Photo by: Jeff Clow

Food Finds

1. Think coupon clipping is a thing of the past? Nah, it’s just gotten more technologically advanced. Put down your Sunday paper and open your browser: CouponMom has coupons you can print and redeem-we scrolled through 9 pages of coupons and found deals for Rite Aid, cookie dough and Cheerio’s. 2. Eating out is the first indulgence to go when money gets tight, but Restaurant.com will feed your inner foodie. It sells gift certificates on the cheap. After entering our zip code, we found a local restaurant with online gift certificates available for purchase through the site: a $10 gift certificate for $4 or a $25 one for $10. 3. If you spend more time at restaurants than in your own kitchen, sign up for OpenTable’s dining rewards program. Earn Dining Rewards Points for online reservations you make and honor. You’ll typically get 100 points for each meal. Once you’ve accumulated 2,000 points, you can redeem them for a check that goes towards your next meal.
Photo by: iStock

Shopping Savings

1. The element of surprise is what got us hooked on Retail Me Not. The coupon super-site gives you an array of coupons for whatever store you’re interested in. We searched Target and found offers for $5 off $50 purchases from various departments. You can strike it lucky too: a Best Buy search found us a GPS system for $180! 2. Art shows and craft fairs are great for the socializing, the strolling-and the shopping. Since festivals can’t happen every weekend, shop homemade goods at Etsy. The site provides virtual retail space to fledgling designers and jewelers. When you’re buying pieces from someone who makes them in their spare time and counts an extra bedroom as a showroom, prices are a steal. Categories include jewelry and clothes, as well as woodworking and crochet. 3. Daydreaming about a personal shopper? Shop It To Me will be your virtual fairy godmother, thanks to its tailored e-mails. An experienced shopper can have hourly rates around $100-we’d much rather spend that kind of cash on clothes! A short profile lets you select brands you’re interested in hearing about, with choices like Anne Klein, Vera Wang and Cole Haan. The site is smart: it only sending you listings in your size. How do they know? Your profile includes your sizes (don’t worry, it’s password-protected.)
Photo by: Sean Locke

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