Smart Buying

Score the Best Deals on Daily Spending

For the lowest prices on everyday items, here's where all the sweet spots are.

Eating out

Trim the cost of consuming calories.

Mini-size the movie snack. A small drink and small popcorn at the Regal Majestic movie theaters recently cost $9. The kid-size Zap Pack—which includes a drink, popcorn and candy—runs $5.75. You don’t need to bring a kid (or an ID) to get this deal.

Give yourself a gift card. Web sites including PlasticJungle.com, GiftCardGranny.com and ABCGiftCards.com let you buy gift cards at up to 50% off the face value for use at Starbucks, Maggiano’s, Smith & Wollensky and other popular restaurants.

Wireless phone plans

We’ve dialed up great deals for three types of plans.

Pay as you go. For light cell-phone users who don’t want data service, prepaying for a bucket of minutes can save money. Allan Keiter, president of MyRatePlan.com, suggests using the T-Mobile Prepaid Pay As You Go plan and choosing the option of 1,000 minutes for $100. Your minutes won’t expire for a year.

Monthly no-contract. Get unlimited voice minutes, text messaging and data service from Straight Talk for $45 per month. The carrier offers a variety of Android devices starting at $130.

Standard contract. With a T-Mobile Value Plan, you either insert a T-Mobile SIM card (free with the Value Plan) into any compatible, unlocked GSM phone or purchase a full-price phone from T-Mobile (rather than a subsidized phone) and the carrier will reduce the monthly rate on a two-year contract. An individual plan with unlimited calling, text messaging and data (up to 2 gigabytes at full speed) runs $60 a month with the Value Plan, compared with $80 for a Classic Plan. Calculate whether your monthly savings over two years outweigh the extra cost of a phone (phones start at $110).

Home tech deals

For the lowest price, know where the sweet spots are.

We asked Louis Ramirez, senior features writer for bargain-hunting Web site Dealnews.com, to identify the best bargains in tech now. high-quality 17-inch laptops are among the hottest bargains, he says. Models with at least 8GB of RAM and hard drives of 500GB or more dipped to about $700 recently, and he expects them to drop further. Among laptops equipped with Intel’s previous-generation processor, Sandy Bridge—which should do the job for most buyers—Asus, HP and Lenovo have some of the best prices. If you desire Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processor, deals on HP Pavilion laptops have been excellent.

Prices on brand-name Blu-ray players with built-in Wi-Fi connections have hit rock-bottom. Models from the likes of Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp are selling for about $50, and they will likely stay in that neighborhood through the summer, Ramirez says. It’s not a bad time to buy a 46-inch HDTV, either. Deals from Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba are averaging about $490—an all-time low for that size.

Apple aficionados should look to authorized resellers, such as Amazon and Best Buy, for discounts. Recently, Ramirez spotted a new 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi—which retails for $399—for $340 through MicroCenter.com. And an 11-inch, current-generation Macbook Air notebook recently sold for $699—a $300 discount—through Adorama.com.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
11 Best Healthcare Stocks for the Rest of 2021
healthcare stocks

11 Best Healthcare Stocks for the Rest of 2021

The 2020s could be the decade of healthcare stocks. Here are 10 companies and one ETF to watch not just for the remainder of this year, but well beyon…
July 13, 2021
Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
Tax Breaks

Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

Unlike stimulus checks, you might have to repay your monthly child tax credit payments if you get too much money from the IRS.
July 16, 2021

Recommended

Win in a Red-Hot Housing Market
Becoming a Homeowner

Win in a Red-Hot Housing Market

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, these strategies will help you get the best deal.
July 30, 2021
New Perks From Our Best Rewards Cards
Smart Buying

New Perks From Our Best Rewards Cards

No annual fee, new tiered rewards and more cash back are some of the offerings.
July 24, 2021
25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
Smart Buying

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Many of warehouse club Costco's store-branded Kirkland Signature items get high marks for quality and value. Check out our picks.
July 21, 2021
What You Must Know About Tipping While Traveling
Travel

What You Must Know About Tipping While Traveling

Relax, you're on vacation. Use these six tips to establish a tipping plan that eliminates stress.
July 14, 2021