Start spending smarter

Given all the recent economic malaise, there's a good chance you're trying to lower your spending.

One way to do that is to cut back. Another way is to spend smarter.

From Consumer Reports Money Advisor, here are tips for finding the best price on all kinds of purchases:

Check online first. You can compare prices to make sure you're getting a good deal before you buy. There are numerous online shopping ”bot“ sites that gather information from a variety of retailers. Popular ”bot“ sites to check include,, and You can also search the Web for coupons and coupon codes.

Look for frequent shopper discounts. If you shop regularly at a store, find out whether they offer discounts or some perks to customers who use the store's credit card. If so, it could be worth your while to use their card. Some retailers let their customers sign up to receive special offers by e-mail. Look into this option, as well.

Marshall Loeb, MarketWatch