Common Money-Saving Mistakes That Can Cost You

Everyone likes to save money, but certain deals aren't all they're cracked up to be. Here are a few ways to avoid the most common money-saving mistakes.

First, never tell a salesperson your maximum budget. Your inclination may be to set a price limit, but once they know your budget, salespeople will try to push products on the high end of your range, and possibly beyond. Instead, offer a general price range without getting into specifics.

Next, if you're desperate for a new item -- whether it be a new computer, phone or other big ticket item -- don't disclose how badly you need it. Knowing the necessity of a purchase can lead a salesperson to hold back on giving you the best deal.

When it comes to food, warehouse clubs may not be your best bet. You'll get more, but could potentially save less. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, buying in bulk is the leading cause of food waste in America, costing a family of four up to $2,275 per year. So, keep spending down by buying items that are used often and don't spoil quickly.

Before you head to the stores, keep these common shopping mistakes in mind. You'll catch more deals and end up throwing away less money.

Best Things to Buy in Bulk
See Gallery
Common Money-Saving Mistakes That Can Cost You -- Savings Experiment
Buying in bulk usually saves money. Wal-Mart boasts on its Web site that the average family of four can pocket $2,000 a year by opting for bulk purchases instead of smaller sizes. That is, of course, assuming nothing goes to waste. Here are some of the best bulk purchases. They include gift cards, toothbrushes, paper goods, cell phone minutes, blank DVDs, lightbulbs and generic vodka.
For a limited time, you can find discounted gift cards at Costco. For example, five $20 Starbucks cards, which normally cost $100, are $79.99 (a 20% savings). Two $25 Godiva Chocolate gift cards, a $50 value, are going for $39.99 (also 20% off).
Aside from changing brushes every three months, think of how many times an overnight guest forgets to bring a toothbrush, or when you go on a trip and leave your toothbrush at the hotel. A six-pack of Braun Oral B toothbrushes from sells for $13. Buying six of the same individual toothbrushes would cost close to $15.
You can never have enough stationery, thank you notes and holiday cards. Crane Paper, an upscale stationery chain, recently ran a sale on bulk purchases, where if you bought 75 pieces of select stationery you got 25 pieces free. Also, one blank thank you card from CVS starts at around 99 cents, versus an 8-pack of blank cards for $5.99, a $3 savings. Target and Wal-Mart also offer creative stationery designs at low prices.
Burn all your favorite movies and home videos. A 50-pack of DVD-R's costs $30 at Staples or $1.67 each, while a 5-pack costs $11 or $2.20 each.
If you're a chatterbox, then the best possible advice when it comes to cell phone minutes is to round up when in doubt of how much you need. It almost always costs less to over-buy minutes ahead of time, than to go over in a given month. While the per-minute cost within a plan may be five to eight cents, the overage can cost up to 45 cents per minute.
Much like the Millionaire Next Door does, pour generic vodka into a Ketel One clear bottle and your guests will never notice the difference. A 1.75L of Popov Vodka costs $13.99 at ShopRite, while the same size of Ketel One runs closer to $40.
A single 14-watt mini spiral light bulb from Home Depot costs $4, while a pack of four costs $7. Enough said.
As food prices soar and the economy worsens, it's a perfect time to look at the money wasters in our life. So for the third time, we asked our readers what they think are the top ways to waste money.

Click through our gallery and see if you agree with this list that we pulled from our message board. Are there worse ways you waste your money?

Start Next Gallery:
Money Wasters
Read Full Story