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    Live Well On Less

    Learn the art of the haggle.

    "No matter where or when you're shopping, or for what, the day of the fixed price is over," says Fred Brock, author of Live Well on Less Than You Think. "If you don't ask, 'Is that the best you can do?' you're doing yourself a disservice, especially with big-ticket items, including home appliances and furniture." The best way to negotiate is by framing the price reduction as a win-win proposition. Alina Preciado, 37, a designer in Brooklyn, NY, fantasized for months about a lamp she saw in a store (price tag: $650). Finally, she said to the manager, "This lamp's been in your store for a year. How about you give it to me for 50 percent off and make space for new inventory?" He agreed, and now the fixture hangs above Alina's dining table.

    Get the kids involved.

    Feeding a child's appetite for store-bought sweets can get pricey. Instead, turn snack time into a family event. "Every Sunday my children and I bake a batch of cookies or brownies, and I put them in their lunches for the week. Not only is this a fun, free activity but it saves money that I would spend on prepackaged snacks," says Janice Kaplan, 37, of Gainesville, FL. "We brainstorm new ideas together, and it becomes a low-cost way for my family to have fun together."

    Put the Web to work for you.

    I recently decided I wanted new bedside lamps for my husband and myself. I found cool spotlights that matched our bedroom decor on the Pottery Barn website, but the color I liked was sold out, and the $79 sticker price was a shock. When I plugged in "Pottery Barn" and the item name on eBay, I found a seller in Mississippi hawking a pair of the lamps — in the coveted bright red, new in box! — for $55. Even with the $19 shipping fee, I saved myself 50 percent by searching the unparalleled auction site before buying retail. Tip: Request that eBay email you when a specific item you're looking for comes up for sale.

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