smart spending

3 group buying moves for saving money

Organizing a club takes some time since you gather monthly orders and then distribute the delivery. Many clubs, such as the Fox Fed Elgin Flakes, order monthly from the wholesaler and also contract with local suppliers for products like eggs or honey, says Gwen Moeller, coordinator of the club in Elgin, Ill.

UNFI also maintains Unitedbuyingclubs.com, a Web site that helps with finding clubs and offers other useful online tools.

Sharing home maintenance services

Landscape companies are often approached by homeowners associations which bargain for lower rates based on the number of adjacent lawns that can be maintained more easily and cheaply, says Duane Shumaker, president of the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association in Christiansburg, Va.

There's no reason homeowners on a block without a formal association can't do the same, says Rick Kier of Pro Scapes Inc., a Jamesville, N.Y., company that does landscaping and snow removal.

Depending on the number of driveways to be plowed or lots mowed, discounts could be slight to considerable -- 50 percent or more, says Kier.

But it takes a committed group, and someone will have to serve as the group's organizer, Kier says. "What if I give a group rate and then only a few people sign the contract?" he asks.

Indeed, these and other group buying efforts can save consumers plenty of cash. The challenge will be getting organized and staying organized.

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