It pays to be friendly to the sales staff at your favorite stores. Managers, clerks and personal shoppers often know when new shipments are due and -- most importantly -- when sales will be on the calendar.
That's the word from Shameless Shortcuts: 1,027 Tips and Techniques that Help You Save Time, Save Money and Save Work Every Day!, by Fern Marshall Bradley and the editors of Yankee Magazine ($16.95/Rodale).
Believe it or not, many store employees are happy to share their information if you just ask them. For example, the manager of one of my favorite stores (Marshall's) told me she marks down merchandise every Thursday, and a cashier at a national shoe chain (Payless) advised me to delay my purchase a week to take advantage of an upcoming sale.