Just Say No to Extras to Save Money

You'll beat tricky merchants and let bad shoppers pay for your bargain.

I once lived in Rochester, N.Y., where having your car washed regularly during the five months of winter was a necessity (for some it was practically a religion). So much salt was spread on the roads that a corrosive, slushy brine would build up anytime it snowed. And it snowed a lot.

Near my house was a super-duper car wash, trimmed in neon. It had two bays and offered all the extras. You could easily drop $25 on a wash there, and yet it was the best deal around. How could that be, given that there were other, less fancy car washes nearby that wouldn't charge nearly as much? And why didn't those other car washes advertise what a rip-off the fancy place seemed to be?

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Bob Frick
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance