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3 Little-Known Ways to Save Big on Your Next Trip to Home Depot

Bob Niedt, Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Easy shortcuts to finding hidden bargains at the big-box retailer.

Your go-to hardware store may once have been that mom-and-pop shop on a downtown corner in Everytown, USA. That joint's likely out of business now thanks to that orange-tinged big box giant, Home Depot. But if all you've been doing is making spontaneous shopping runs to Home Depot to pick up a can of paint or a bag of mulch, you're not doing it right. Follow these three insider tips to save money on your next visit to Home Depot.

SEE ALSO: 12 Secrets to Shopping at Home Depot

Know the Secrets Hidden in the Price Tags. As with Kohl's, there are secrets in the price tags at Home Depot, too. It pays to know the code.

Any item with a price ending with .06 means it is on clearance, says Saeed Darabi of the money-saving website MoneyPantry. A price ending in .03 means that's the lowest final price for that item. If it doesn't sell within three weeks, it will be removed from the shelves.

Yes, You Can Haggle for a Lower Price. Not every employee has the power to lower prices, but it's worth a try. Consumer-finance expert Andrea Woroch said she scored an additional $50 off a washer and dryer that were already on sale at Home Depot. All she had to do was ask.

"The sales associates usually don't have the power to give you a better deal, but if you ask to speak to a manager, he or she may be more willing to negotiate with you to seal the deal," says Woroch. "Use tactics like reviewing [with the manager] recent sales that you missed or upcoming ones that you may qualify for." Same with Lowe's, by the way.

A friend of mine who once donned the orange apron and worked at a Home Depot in Michigan said the sales associates do have some wiggle room; managers do not want customers walking out empty-handed. He offered some valuable advice:

"Associates can knock the price down on a superficially damaged product," he says. "I once deeply discounted a bunch of leaf blowers that were fine, but in boxes that were water-damaged. Scratched or dented items are also fair game. And, if the item you want isn't in stock, they likely will sell you the next best item at the same price. And if you only need a couple of pieces of product, floor tile for example, to finish a job, they'll probably open a brand new package and give you the pieces you need. The open item goes on the discount table. Each associate has like $75 of wiggle room to work with every day, with or without a manager's approval."

Peruse the Paint Desk for Bargains. Just like the Island of Misfit Toys, Home Depot's (and Lowe's) paint department relegates mixing mishaps to an "oops" section. There, you'll find paints that didn't match expectations or were abandoned by customers who ordered but never picked them up.

So why would you want such rejected paint? Because you can get it for 25% to 75% off, says Darabi of MoneyPantry. The paints are perfectly fine.

It may not be exactly the color you want, but if it's for, say, a spare bedroom, closets or other space that's rarely used, the option just might work at a lower cost.

SEE ALSO: What Home Improvement Stores Do Not Tell You

For more tips for saving big while shopping at Home Depot, head to our slide show, 12 Secrets to Shopping at Home Depot

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