Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prepare Before You Go

Tip #56 - Prepare Before You Go. Before you go somewhere, read up on the place you are going to. Try to find the best deal that you can. Find out what sales are going on. See if there are any coupons you can use. The more preparations you do in advance, the more money you will save.

If you are going out to eat, look up the restaurant online and look at the menu. Figure out how will you order. Is it better to get a meal by itself or is there a combination that would be a better deal? Are there separate children's meals or should they share with you? At least have an idea of what they offer so that when you arrive at the restaurant you are not under pressure to order in haste and maybe not get the best value for your money.

If you are going to the supermarket look at the circular to find the best deals that you will be getting. Don't wait to get there to look at the circular. It takes time to study the deals. Standing in the crowded market with possibly a child pulling at your hand is not the time to do it.

If you are going on vacation, look up on the Internet the city or town you are going to. Many times there are discounts for events or places on certain days. Again, it is better to know about these in advance so you can plan your trip around some of these deals. You wouldn't want to wait until you got there to find out about them or it may be too late.

If you are going out locally - to a community pool, a museum, or a sporting event, check online or in the local newspaper to see if there are special deals or discounts. They could be for certain days or certain hours. Sometimes there will be an actual coupon that you can print out or cut out.

Taking just a few minutes before doing any of these activities can potentially save you several dollars each time you go out.

In Real Life (IRL) - I am always looking for deals. If I am planning on going somewhere - whether it be a hotel, a museum, or the supermarket - I go online and check out the company's website first. Sometimes I find deals right on their website. Other times I will Google the place I am going to and look for any coupons that might be available. If I am going to a new restaurant, I like to see what options are available on the menu. I find that if I can see how they price things, I can decide how to order. Sometimes my children can get a really good deal from a kids' meal. Other times I find them to be overpriced and I will have them order a la carte.

Before I go to the supermarket, I always look at either the paper circular or the online one. I try to write up my shopping list based on what we are planning to eat that week in combination with what the best deals are at the market. I find that the times that I run into the market on the way home from an errand, I tend to not buy as smart. This is because I have either not looked at the circular or I do so at the store and am in a rush, so I miss some of the good deals.

When we went to Boston on vacation a few years ago, I looked up their Children's Museum in advance and they had $1 admission on Fridays. Since we planned on going to the museum anyway, we planned our visit there on a Friday and saved several dollars per person. When we had my husband's cousin from Germany in town a few years ago, she wanted to do a tour of Washington, DC. For days before she arrived, I searched around for a good deal on a tour bus. I found out by searching online that there was a 2-for-1 deal in the Entertainment Book. A friend of mine gave me her coupon since I didn't buy the book that year. It saved us about $20. Because I have found deals in the past, I try to make it a habit of looking for coupons or discounts before I go somewhere. I don't always find them. But I would estimate that I do about half the time. It's a good habit to get into to help save some money.

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