Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show
Slide Show

Best Bargains of 2011

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Get the best bang for your buck, on everything from stocks and credit cards to cooking and cars. The deals are divided into three categories: steals you should snag now, the best websites for finding discounts, and ways to create your own best bargain.
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Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 2 of 59

Hawaiian Island Hop

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Head to Hawaii in mid September and save $782 over a mid-July trip. The tour of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island from BeachDestinations.com includes 12 nights’ lodging and round-trip airfare from Los Angeles for two.

Cost: $2,849.





Plus: 24 Travel Sites that Will Save You Money and How to Beat Rising Summer Travel Costs.
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Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 3 of 59

An Exotic Chinese Adventure

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Visit Beijing and Shanghai in November and spend $2,731- compared with a mid-July price of nearly $4,000. The trip for two includes round-trip airfare from Boston, a flight from Beijing to Shanghai, and hotel stays for three nights in each city.

Book at Trip-Masters.com.

Plus: How to Beat Rising Summer Travel Costs and
  • What to Do If You're Stranded When Traveling.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 4 of 59

    Cook out, Eat in

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    Eating in restaurants is pricey. Cooking at home is a chore. Split the difference by attending a meal-prep session at a professional kitchen operated by Dinners Done Right or Make & Take Gourmet. The companies provide ingredients, utensils, recipes, containers and food prep. You assemble the meals and bring them home to freeze and cook later.

    Cost: about $4 to $6 per serving.

    Plus: More Ways to Save When Dining Out.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 5 of 59

    Chevrolet Impala

    Courtesy of Chevrolet

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    The Impala gets a refresh for 2012, but the ’11 is selling for an average of 22% below the starting sticker price of $25,215, according to TrueCar.com. The Impala gets nearly 30 miles per gallon on the highway.







    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: 10 Cheapest Cars to Own andQUIZ: How to Get the Best Deal on a New Car.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 6 of 59

    Cadillac DTS

    Courtesy of Cadillac

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    Last chance to get the classic Cadillac cruiser; the DTS bows out this year. At 19% below the $47,600 starting sticker, you can justify extras such as the lane-departure warning and blind-spot alert package ($695).







    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: Best Cars for Long Road Trips and SLIDE SHOW: Best Cars for Families 2011.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 7 of 59

    Nissan Armada

    Courtesy of Nissan

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    Nissan’s biggest SUV has three rows of seats and 20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row—but with gas prices high, sales have been slow. Pick up the Armada (starting at $38,885) for 17% off sticker.

    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: Best Used Cars 2011.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 8 of 59

    Chevrolet Aveo

    Courtesy of Chevrolet

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    The Aveo will be replaced by the Chevy Sonic for 2012, so dealers are pushing it off the lots at 19% off sticker price (starting at $12,725). The subcompact gets 27 mpg in the city, 35 on the highway.

    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: 10 Cars that Refuse to Die and SLIDE SHOW: 10 Cheapest Cars to Own.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 9 of 59

    Cheap Tunes

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    Just because you play songs on iTunes doesn’t mean that you have to buy them from the Apple Store. As Amazon attempts to attract music customers, it often undercuts iTunes prices. Its MP3 Daily Deal offers a deeply discounted album, usually to the tune of $3.99. Recent offerings include rapper Jay-Z’s debut Reasonable Doubt and The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow.

    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: 25 Ways to Waste Your Money.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 10 of 59

    Best Time to Buy Furniture

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    New furniture hits showrooms in August, according to the American Home Furnishing Alliance. That means you can save 10% to 50% in July as retailers make room for the new inventory. January is another good time to buy, as new inventory arrives in February.





    Plus: More Best Buys of Summer.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 11 of 59

    Lock in Your Kids’ Tuition

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    In 13 states, you can still prepay in-state tuition years in advance, protecting yourself against future tuition hikes. See whether your state offers a prepaid-tuition plan at the College Savings Plans Network. If your student wants to attend a private school, look into thePrivate College 529 Plan, which offers a similar arrangement for more than 270 participating private colleges.

    Plus: SPECIAL REPORT: Paying for College and SLIDE SHOW: 5 Advanced Degrees Still Worth the Debt.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 12 of 59

    Xerox Stock

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    Best known for its photocopiers, Xerox (XRX) acquired Affiliated Computer Services in 2010 and is now a major player in computer services for businesses. Through Affiliated, Xerox, which generated $22 billion in sales last year, runs corporate technology departments and manages company benefits. At $10, the stock trades at just nine times estimated 2011 profits, which analysts see climbing 14% this year (all prices are through June 3).

    Plus: 4 Solid Value Stocks and 6 Cash-Rick Stocks to Buy Now.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 13 of 59

    WellPoint Stock

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    WellPoint (WLP), the largest U.S. health insurer, is in a better position to cope with health care reform than most of its rivals. Its immensity—revenues should exceed $59 billion, this year—gives it leverage with health providers. At $77, the stock sells for less than 11 times estimated 2011 earnings.

    Plus: Great Companies' Stocks on Sale.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 14 of 59

    Chevron Stock

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    Profits are gushing for Chevron (CVX). Analysts expect earnings for the integrated energy giant to rocket 38% this year. Meanwhile, the company has been selling off refining assets and recently acquired Atlas Energy, which gives Chevron a major foothold in the Marcellus shale formation. At $101, the stock sells for eight times earnings.

    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: The World's 10 Best Stocks.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 15 of 59

    Fire Sale on ETFs

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    The cost of owning—and buying—exchange-traded funds keeps coming down. The annual expense ratio for Focus Morningstar US Market Index (FMU), an ETF that tracks the entire U.S. stock market, and Focus Morningstar Large Cap Index (FLG), a fund that tracks large-company stocks, is 0.05%. The largest (and oldest) ETF, SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), charges 0.09% annually. Meanwhile, a growing number of discount brokers, including Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade, are letting their clients trade selected ETFs without commissions. And Scottrade customers can trade all 15 FocusShares ETFs, which Scottrade sponsors, for no charge.



    Plus: Special Report: Smart Moves with ETFs.

    More deals on ETFs: New ETFs for Offbeat Niches and ETFs that Bet Against Bonds.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 16 of 59

    0% Balance Transfers

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    Cut your credit card interest rate to 0% for 21 months by transferring a balance to the Citi Platinum Select MasterCard or Citi Diamond Preferred Card—among the longest offers available. Note that there’s a 3% transaction fee.







    Plus: More Credit Cards with a 0% Balance-Transfer and Kiplinger's Credit Card Search.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 17 of 59

    Free ATM Withdrawals

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    Open a checking account at Ally, Schwab Bank or E*Trade (all FDIC-insured) for a rebate on fees at any U.S. ATM. None of the accounts requires a minimum balance or charges a monthly fee, and all offer free online bill pay. Or open an account at one of about 1,000 banks and credit unions that belong to the Allpoint network, which includes 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide.

    Plus: What to Expect from Your Bank this Year and SLIDE SHOW: 25 Ways to Waste Your Money.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 18 of 59

    Manage Your Tech Files for Free

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    When you upgrade to a new computer, It probably won’t come with Microsoft Office, and you’ll pay $115 (at Amazon) for the basic suite. Instead, try Google Docs or OpenOffice. Both offer basic word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentations.



    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: 20 Financial Innovations You Can't Afford to Ignore.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 19 of 59

    Comp Your Computer Storage

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    Need a place to store and share files? Windows Live SkyDrive (25 gigabytes of free space) lets you upload music files, documents, photos and videos. Bonus: You can create and edit Microsoft Office files in your SkyDrive browser window and save them directly to your account—no Office download required. You can also use Dropbox (2GB free; $120 per year for 50GB) or Amazon Cloud Drive (5GB free; $20 per year for 20GB).

    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: 20 Financial Innovations You Can't Afford to Ignore.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 20 of 59

    Get a Steal on Security

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    You don’t have to pay $70 a year for security software. Avast Antivirus and Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows get good reviews from tech experts and offer basic defenses, including malware protection.

    Plus: Smart Phone Safety Tips from a Professional Hacker
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 21 of 59

    Sign Up with an Online Tutor

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    Tired of trying to teach your kid the difference between sine and cosine? Ask your school or local library whether It provides access to free online tutoring, such asTutor.com and SkillsTutor.com. These sites offer tutors in a range of subjects and let students and tutors communicate online.

    Plus: 6 Key Questions Before You Teach Kids About Money and Should You Pay Kids for Good Grades?
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 22 of 59

    Take the Schlep Out of Shopping

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    Compare prices and find bargains on sites such as Dealnews.com (or follow @dealnews on Twitter for daily alerts), GottaDeal.com, andAmazon.com. DODTracker.com posts daily deals from multiple sites.

    Plus: More Resources to Help You Review Before You Buy.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 23 of 59

    Cheap Date

    Courtesy of Restaurant.com

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    A coupon from Restaurant.com gets you discounts of up to 60% at more than 18,000 restaurants. Regular promotions on the site bring the cost down even further, to as little as $8 for a $100 coupon (deals are limited to one coupon per party).

    Plus: 4 Things to Avoid at Restaurants.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 24 of 59

    Lowest Airfares

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    Enter your flight itinerary at Bing.com/travel, and the tool will tell you whether you should buy your ticket now or wait for the price to drop before your trip.

    Plus: 20 Secrets to Save on Travel and SLIDE SHOW: 5 Ways Technology Will Change the Way You Travel.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 25 of 59

    Cheap Car Rentals

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    Use the “Hot Rate” feature at Hotwire.com to find last-minute discounts in selected cities, or bid on a car at Priceline.com. The car model isn’t revealed until after you book and pay, but you’re guaranteed a vehicle in a general category from a major agency.





    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: Best Cars for Long Road Trips and Car Rental Firms Punish No-Shows.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 26 of 59

    Bring the Kids, Get the Freebies

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    How much do you hate buying a $12 entrée for a picky 6-year-old? If the answer is “a lot,” visit MyKidsEatFree.com or KidsMealDeals.com. These sites point you to restaurants in your area where kids eat free (usually at certain times or on certain days).

    Plus: GUIDE: Money Smart Kids.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 27 of 59

    Down to Earth Athletic Shoes

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    Find low prices on athletic shoes online. For example, at Road Runner Sports, New Balance 993 running shoes (retail price: $145) cost $103 if you join its VIP free-shipping club for $1.99. At Holabird Sports, the same shoes cost $100. For discounts on kids’ shoes, check outShoesteal.com.



    Plus: SAVE MONEY ON PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING: Shopping and Entertainment.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 28 of 59

    Cool Skiing Discounts

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    A hot summer day is the perfect time to land a discount on ski and snowboarding gear. Check local sports shops for preseason sales, and in early fall, scour Web sites, such as BestSkiSales.com, Liftopia.com, and OnTheSnow.com, for lift-ticket discounts that could knock $20 or more off the daily rate at selected resorts.

    Plus: What You Need to Know About Winter Getaways.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 29 of 59

    Salvage Savings at Home

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    Look for prices up to 60% off retail for architectural salvage: materials, components and trim removed from demolished or renovated homes. For a directory of stores, visit OldHouseJournal.com and click on “Salvage.” Or snag donated building materials and home goods, new and gently used, for 50% to 90% off retail prices at Habitat for Humanity ReStores. To locate one, visit Habitat.org/restores.

    Plus: SLIDE SHOW: The Best vs. the Bargains: Home Improvement and SLIDE SHOW: 8 Easy Projects to Add Value to Your Home.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 30 of 59

    Thrift Shop for Your Home Online

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    Search online for consigned home furnishings to find stores in your area. At sites such as Consignmentpal.com, you’ll typically find a higher markup than at thrift stores, but the furniture comes from manufacturers, interior designers and high-end retailers as well as homeowners, and the store may even provide design help.

    Plus: 9 Projects to Spruce Up Your House.
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 31 of 59

    Ditch Full-Price Appliances

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    For discounts of 20% to 60% on scratch and dent items—blemished or returned (but unused) appliances, electronics, tools, and more—visit a Sears clearance center or ask at an appliance dealer or big-box store.

    Plus: QUIZ: How Smart a Homeowner Are You?
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    Best Bargains of 2011 - Slide Show | Slide 32 of 59

    Sign up for Private Sales

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    For steep discounts on luxury travel, check JetSetter.com. It holds short-term “flash sales” on high-end hotels and other services. If enough people buy a deal at Trip­Alertz.com, the rate drops from an already-discounted member price (membership is free). Offerings recently ranged from a stay at a Dominican Republic resort to a rocket-plane ride into space.

    Plus: More Sites to Snag Hotel Deals with Private Sales and What You Need to Know About Private Sales.
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