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Columns: Boomer Bucks
Barbara Mlotek Whelehan   Expert: Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
Boomer Bucks
Saving money is the in thing these days. But some forms of extreme saving can be just plain gross.
Boomer Bucks

Getting the best deal

It's trendy to save money. You'll see more newspaper, magazine and online articles on how to make the most of your income in the weeks and months ahead.

This was popular in the 1960s, too, some boomers may recall. I remember a helpful hint that ran in a column on how to make use of ordinary items headed for the trash can. One item encouraged readers not to throw away old knee-high stockings. Fill them instead with soap remnants. Then tie a knot at the open end and use it instead of a new bar of soap, the columnist advised.

I actually tried this recently, and proudly showed the droopy and dusty stocking filled with soap chips that I'd collected from the shower over a six-month period. "Eewww!" my husband exclaimed. "I'm not going near that thing!"

It did look pretty gross, and so it ended up getting tossed in the trash can after all. So much for putting off the purchase of a bar of soap!

Pillow talk
I have an aversion to malls, but when I go, it's with a single purpose: to find the best deal on a particular item without sacrificing quality.

Last summer I purchased a couple of pillows at Macy's. Pillow prices in the home section of Macy's range from $20 for a Ralph Lauren "slick polyester fill" pillow to $210 for an Estate White Goose down pillow, also by the same brand. In between are dozens of pillows at various price levels by other pillow manufacturers.

The ones I liked best: Down Surround Feather pillows by Charter Club. These firm-support pillows contain a feather-filled inner core surrounded by the "softness of down" and are wrapped in a 300-count cotton cover. The standard/queen pillow normally retails for $100; the king size goes for $120.

That's big bucks for a pillow in my book -- and shelling out that kind of money for the hope of sweet dreams might instead keep someone up nights. But they ran a special that I couldn't resist: Buy one at the regular price; get the second pillow for $1.

I thought 50 percent off was a good deal, but have since learned that those pillows sometimes sell for less. At most Macy's department stores, you'll see current prices of merchandise on freestanding price displays that are usually placed on top of a display case.

At this particular store, the manager keeps advertised prices for upcoming specials sandwiched within the six-inch by eight-inch panes of plastic. So the visible price may say $100 standard/queen; $120 king. But behind it are cards that say "50 percent off," or "Sale $44.99 standard/queen; $54.99 king," etc. (I got tipped off to these future specials by asking a sales clerk about upcoming sales, and watching her thumb through these cards.)

Next: "Can I get reimbursed the difference if I produce my receipt?"
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