An important lesson that the couponing and promotions industry teaches us is that "retail price" is a myth. Yes, manufacturers need to make money, and yes, all items have a market value. In any case, in most situations, that market value varies, and you can find ways to get what you need or want for less. Even when you're not paying retail price, stores and manufacturers still make money, so everyone benefits. For most items, avoiding the retail sticker is easy, and for others, the challenge is a little tougher. Ultimately, you need to find a routine that balances your valuable time with your deal-hunting strategy. If you're reevaluating your shopping routine, this list of seven expenses provides a place to start.

1. Pet Supplies
If you've ever shopped in a pet store, you know that food, toys, treats, medications, and shampoos are expensive. Sometimes, pet supplies cost more than human supplies, and something as simple as a Frisbee can easily cost more than $15. Instead of shopping at the pet store, shop online. is a great place to start. If you see something at a major pet store, do a search for a coupon code as a quick and easy way to trim the expense. If you see an item in the store, it's probably available online too. (Check out Top Tips For Cutting Pet Care Costs for more.)

2. Anything Car-Related
Whether you're paying for mechanical problems, regular maintenance or car washes, you can avoid the retail price tag. Keep an eye out for coupons in the mail, and if you can't find anything, do a quick search online for auto body shops or car washes in your local area. If you can't find a coupon or promotion, negotiate your price and ask if price-matching is available for competitors' coupons.

3. Electronics
Whether you're shopping for televisions, computers, or something else, retailers have promotions all the time. You just need to keep an eye out and know where to search. If you're shopping in a store, and you see a laptop or stereo system that you love, double check online to see if you can find a better price elsewhere. If you spend 15 or 20 minutes looking, you probably will, and the amount that you save is well-worth your time. At the very least, you could probably find a coupon code.

4. Vacation Packages
Group buying deals are great ways to save on vacations, events and activities. If you're on a budget, you might want to consider shopping for vacations based on what promotions are available. If you don't see a deal that you like, just wait. One will come up - there's no need to make an impulsive decision.

5. Shipping
This is one expense that is easily avoidable. Online coupon code websites frequently feature free shipping discounts. In addition, retailers offer a number of shipping options. For instance, you should always check whether there is a site-to-store shipping option available. That way, you won't need to pay an additional fee. (Don't miss these great tips. Check out 6 Ways To Save Online.)

6. Textbooks
Students: this tip's for you. In no situation should you ever resort to paying full-price for a textbook. Buy a textbook that is previously owned, or buy an electronic book. If you can, rent your book or borrow it at the library. There is one exception: sometimes, publishing companies release new editions that professors require. If you're stuck in a class that needs a new edition, then you'll probably need to pay full price.

7. Online Retail
Any brick and mortar store that is also online will probably offer coupon codes. You just need to look. This is a great way to trim down your expense, and you'll probably end up spending less than you would at the store. (Before you type in your credit card number, be aware of these dangers. See 5 Pitfalls Of Online Shopping.)

The Bottom Line
With whatever you're buying, there are ways to avoid the retail sticker price. You just need to keep your eyes open, especially if you're in the market for something specific. Think creatively and be patient to find the deal of your dreams.

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