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In dire economic times, tried and trusted ways help stretch your dollar.

Here's a book that seems right off of Big Mama's shelf: Good Housekeeping's Good Deals & Smart Steals: How to Save Money on Everything. If Big Mama only knew she could have made a mint off all those savings tips she would give us. Now with the economy taking a nose dive, Good Housekeeping has packaged countless tips into a handy pocket-sized book to help consumers save some of their rapidly disappearing dollars and better protect their products and the environment. Cost: $9.95. Some examples:

Dining out

Drink tap water instead of ordering soft drinks, coffee or bottled water to cut your dinner bill by a much as 20 percent.

Wait until you get home for coffee and dessert. There's a high markup on both.

Give up pizza twice a month - eat it just two times, instead of four - and save $200 a year.

Order a variety of appetizers as your meal; they're less expensive and often just as filling as entrees.

Around the house

Limiting laundry expense: Cut down the use of hot water in the wash. Use warm water, and you'll cut your energy use.

Don't stock up on ready-to-serve orange juice when it's on sale. Researchers have found that oxygen destroys vitamin C in ready-to-serve orange juice, even while it's in the store waiting to be sold.

You may think you're saving energy and money by turning off the lights for the second you're out of a room. Incandescent bulbs, for example, should be turned off when they're not needed, but compact fluorescent bulbs should be turned off only if you're leaving for more than 15 minutes.

Keep potpourri potent. Refresh potpourri with this three-step process: Seal it in a plastic freezer bag with two or three drops of essential oil, shake it well, then let it sit for 24 hours in a closed cabinet.


Here are the best deals on groceries at your discount warehouse: milk, spaghetti sauce, microwave popcorn, peanut butter, juice boxes, pickles, sugar-free sweeteners and instant hot chocolate.

Bargain for things like free delivery or an extended warranty on electronics or a free accessory at a clothing store - above and beyond the negotiated price.

If you buy something only to notice it on sale a couple of days later, ask about a price adjustment. Big retailers such as Gap, Kohl's and Target will refund the difference between what you paid and the discounted price.

Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor and Macy's often send direct mail with coupons or sale alerts. Stores such as Pottery Barn e-mail customers about deals and events.

Appliances and electronics

If you're in the market for a new TV, spring's the time to shop and save. You may find one of last year's models on sale before the new ones fill the shelves.

When a new MP3 player is introduced, get last year's model and buy it from the retailer's extra inventory. Turnover is so fast that an older model is just as good as the newest generation, minus one or two features.

What should you do with your computer once it has outlived its usefulness? Don't dump it, since it's not biodegradable and its mercury and lead can poison water supplies. Trade it ... recycle it ... sell it ... donate it.

Washing machines. Buy a white one. Designer colors add to the cost of the machine, not to the quality.

Ivan Penn can be reached at or (727) 892-2332.