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Once you know how to find deep discounts, you may be able to afford luxuries you only dreamed about. I know that sounds odd, but it's true and can be a very smart way to buy. Here are a couple of examples.

Now that my wife and I are on the Time of Use plan from our local utility, we not only save $50-$100 each month in the winter, but we can afford to wash towels in hot water if we want. That's because we're paying only 3.3 cents per KWH off-peak instead of 7.8 cents.


Six years ago I bought a Ralph Lauren bathrobe at Filene's Bargain Basement for about a third of its original price ($65 instead of $200). Today it is still the most comfortable and warmest robe I have ever owned. And it looks almost new.

The same Caribbean vacation that goes for $799 in Jan., costs $375 in Nov. and Dec.

Last year my wife and I went to a resort on the coast off-season where we stayed in a suite for $29 a night.

How can luxuries be so inexpensive?

The most important reason is that we bought when the business was willing to sell at a lower price. Electricity is much cheaper off-peak. Last year's designer bathrobe might be sold at cost or below. The staff of an empty off-season hotel will gladly please a loyal customer.

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But there is another reason, especially for luxury items like my bathrobe. Top-of-the-line, name brand products have a high profit margin or markup. This is true for everything from coffee makers to automobiles, from sweaters to refrigerators. However, economy items have a low markup.

Let's take cars as an example. An economy car may have a 3% markup, whereas a luxury car might have a 20% markup. Other luxury items such as clothes have a much higher markup vs. economy items.

Luxury items are usually better made, last longer with less repairs, and are backed by better service.

So here's the secret: luxury items on sale will often be marked down as low or lower than a budget product, but the quality will be vastly superior.

If you can find a top-of-the-line sport coat or dress at a bargain price, you won't be sorry, even if it costs a little more than you'd normally pay. It is a $avvy discount because it's a better value.

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| Impulse buying | Introduction; How To Cut Your Household Budget By $5000 A Year | Price comparison book -- how to compare prices. |

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