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Everyone loves a good bargain, but when you’re watching your pennies it becomes even more important to get the most value possible out of your high street purchases, so try out these secret bargain hunter tips from 118 118 Money to make your money go further. That’s Christmas sorted then…

  1. Do your research in advance

Browsing the shops without doing your research beforehand is like going food shopping on an empty stomach, you’re more likely to make choices based on immediacy, rather than value. Take the time to think about what you really need and check out which stores currently have offers on by using Moneysavingexpert’s daily sales diary.

Just because something is in the sale doesn’t make it a bargain! Think about how much you can afford to spend.

If it’s a wardrobe re-vamp you’re after, try picking up items out of season. You might not be thinking of bikinis and shorts in the winter but they can be kept in the back of your wardrobe ready for summer, and at a discounted cost!

  1. Compare prices between stores

Different stores have different deals going on at the same time, but which one is best for you? Most of us tend to traipse to our local supermarket for convenience, but what if the one down the road has more deals? That extra 10 minutes in the car or that extra bus ride could save you money!

Websites like mysupermarket.co.uk can help you spot those brilliant deals, bringing down the cost of your weekly shop.

If it’s an electronic item or a household appliance you’re after, look online to see who has the best deal. Idealprice.co.uk could help you find what you want with cash to spare! You can even sign up for price alerts, where you’ll get sent a text message when the item that you’re looking at drops in price.

That’s what we call worth the wait.

  1. Try out freecycle

No one gets anything for free right? Wrong! Freecycle is a grassroots community movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns, with the aim of keeping unused items out of landfill.

It’s not just for junk either, there can be top-quality items that people don’t want anymore because they’re moving, re-decorating, or just making way for new things in their home. Big and bulky items are popular as they’re too big for charity shops or to take to the tip.

As with most communities there are ways to make sure you get the best deals. Moneysavingexpert.com has some great tips on freecycling, from using the best etiquette to bag the best products, to ensuring that you’re keeping yourself safe online.

Start by finding your local community on Freecycle.org

  1. Explore charity shops

We all know someone who claims to get some of their best clothes from charity shops, but perhaps you’ve never had much luck. Don’t give up! Charity shops are booming and, due to the speed at which fashions change, you could snap up that coveted cape or leather skirt you saw in the magazines last season but couldn’t afford.

Charity shops often reflect their surroundings, so if you want to look for unique, boutique type items try a shop in an area with galleries, museums or designer shops.

As with all shopping it’s important to go with an item in mind (if it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!). And remember hems can be raised, tops can be lengthened with extra material and zips can be fixed, so don’t be put off if you find something you love that isn’t a perfect fit.

  1. Haggling (it certainly isn’t dead!) 

Think haggling is just for Moroccan markets? Think again. There’s nothing rude or impolite about wanting the best price, but here in the UK we’re only just coming round to the idea of haggling on our high street.

Do your research before hand so that you have a price in mind that you’d be happy to pay. Bear in mind that you’re more likely to get a good deal if the person you’re dealing with likes you, as discounts are down to the retailers discretion, so don’t be aggressive or combative.

A friendly, firm approach with a cheeky smile is a good combination for a successful haggler!

Not sure where to start? Moneysavingexpert.com did a poll to find which shops hagglers had the most success in and to help give you an idea of the discounts that could be available.

We know if you’ve never done it before, asking for a deal can be a bit intimidating but remember, the worst thing they can say is no!

  1. Make use of “we’ll beat any price” stores

There are no shortage of high street shops selling the same products, so as a consumer you have more power than you think!

In order to get your business many stores now promise to beat the price of their competitors, or refund you the difference if you find an item cheaper within a designated mileage and time, however most of us pick up our items, take them home and the shopping journey stops there.

This is where your research comes in! Take the time to look at the same item across a number of different stores (remember to check the small print of any price beating offers, for example do they include online stores? Does it have to be exactly the same model, make and colour?), make a note of the prices and offers (extended warranty etc) and take it into your chosen store, armed with their own price match guarantee stored safely on your phone or in your wallet.

That’s what the 118 118 money twins call armed and dangerous when it comes to getting a great deal.