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How to Shop Smart in a Bad Economy

Being a smart shopper is more important than ever these days, and it has become tougher to find true deals as retailers recalibrate for the tightening economy.

New ads for big retailers like Target reflect the softening economic landscape and sell you ways to shop and save at the same time. But be careful – to stay with Carmen’s theme of saving, you should treat every purchase as a research project and don’t pull the trigger until you know you’re getting the best deal.

Robyn Moreno, editor at Women’s Day and author of Practically Posh, offered three of her favorite web sites to get the best deals:

ShopItToMe.com– a free service that sends you personalized emails telling you what’s on sale in your size at your favorite stores. Consider it your online personal shopper, Moreno said. But don’t go crazy.

Portero.com– The eBay for luxury items where everything sold is 100% authenticated.

EBates.com – A portal site that acts as an online mall with over 1,000 stores that gives you cash back every time you shop.

If you’re doing some old-fashioned shopping, Moreno recommended the old-fashioned art of haggling. You will be surprised how many places will give you a deal if you just make your case for it. She found this to be true at the drycleaner as well as jewelry shops. It can’t hurt to ask.

Finally, familiarize yourself with the six-week cycle, which states that retailers typically need to move merchandise every six weeks. So if you’ve got your eye on a particular item just out of your price range, be patient and wait. Chances are it will go on sale.