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CONSUMER REPORTS: Check out these money-saving sites

by Consumer Reports editors on May 11, 2014 1:40 AM

ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, loves shopping, especially discovering new ways to get a deal. So it recently gathered up the best money-saving sites. Some are places to shop, others are tools — and they’re all bargain-hunting must-haves.

• TJMaxx.com: Best for designer deals. T.J.Maxx stores are a gold mine for marked-down clothes, shoes, bags, home decor and more at up to 90 percent off, according to ShopSmart’s last price check.

And so is the retailer’s new website.

Check out the Runway section for high-end brands including Gucci, Helmut Lang and Prada. Its newest addition: Luxury bed and bath linens.

• HarmonDiscount.com: Best for beauty bargains.

Get rock-bottom prices on all of the beauty basics and on personal-care products like deodorant and shampoo.

ShopSmart knows the prices are good at the site (and at the walk-in stores, which are in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York) because it’s a winner in its secret shopper price scans. Prices are as low as 20 percent less than at chain drugstores, and sometimes even cheaper than at Target and Walmart, which usually have the lowest prices in spot checks.

Look for its Face Values store-brand products for even greater savings.

• PriceBlink.com: Best for sales alerts.

Download this deal-finder and it will run in the background while you’re shopping online.

Alerts pop up automatically if an item can be found elsewhere for less, or if there’s a coupon for a particular item or retailer.

PriceBlink also shows you a price history, so you can see when it’s a good time to buy, and it sends you price-drop alerts if you decide to wait. It works with Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers.

• Gilt.com: Best for flash sales.

Mega flash-sale site Gilt.com now covers it all: clothes and accessories for men, women and kids, plus home items and travel packages.

There are items from top-name designers at up to 60 percent off retail.

You’ll find tons of stuff, but don’t worry about being overwhelmed; you get a daily “Your Personal Sale” collection selected just for you.

• Deals.eBay.com: Best for spotting gems. eBay has become so huge it’s almost intimidating.

A good way to cut through the monstrous online marketplace is to start here, with its curated list of markdowns.

Here’s what you’ll find: Four new deals posted every day at 8 a.m. Pacific time; if they sell out, a new sale pops up.

All are from trusted sellers, with savings of up to 90 percent off the list price, plus free shipping as an added bonus.

Watch for items with banners offering helpful clues such as “Added two hours ago” or “Almost gone!”

• Amazon.com/coupons: Best for bonus savings. Amazon is making news for its futuristic plans. (Delivery by drones?! Packing your order before you even place it?!)

But another recent improvement to the site is a real money-saver: coupons for Amazon products that cover just about every category, including groceries and other household items, books and electronics.

Just click on the coupon you want to use and its value is automatically subtracted from the price of the item when you check out.

• Baublebar.com: Best for affordable accessories. Bored with your wardrobe? Jazz it up with affordable jewelry you won’t see on everyone else.

You’ll find all of the hottest trends, direct from the designers.

ShopSmart loves the range of styles, including dainty stacking rings and chunky statement necklaces. Start in the “Trending Now” section for the latest styles; many are in the $30 range.

• Sellout.Woot.com: Best for last-chance savings.

The flash-sale site has tons of great deals every day on electronics, jewelry and lots of other stuff.

But this special section features one daily super-deal.

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