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Unexpected ways to save on big ticket items

Unconventional advice for buying these three big ticket items.
/ Source: TODAY

Is your appetite for shopping heating up? If so, you’re not alone. With American's views on the economy hitting 8-year highs there's been a modest uptick in consumer spending. That means you might be letting your wallet thaw a little.

Here's a look at some ways to save on a couple of big ticket items that you may have been putting off purchasing.

Get the right mower for your lawn size

Mowing your lawn doesn't necessarily have to mean firing up an engine. If you have less than half an acre, you’ll do just fine with a push mower. But if your yard is bigger than half an acre, you’ll probably want a riding mower or lawn tractor, which starts around $9,000, which will cut down on time and allow you to cover more ground with each pass.

For the best used car deal, try looking across state lines

Prices for used cars spiked around 2009-2010, because there was a shortage of pre-owned vehicles on the market. With the economy sluggish, people didn’t want to take a chance on buying a new car. Now that the economy is better, we’re seeing more and better used cars on the market. So how do you buy them?

Cast a wide net. Go to a site like to shop for a used car and it’ll ask you how far from your home or zip code you want to look. Casting as big an area as you feel comfortable with can save you thousands – in fact, it’s even possible to save money if you have the ship the car across the country.

Look for 2 to 4-year-old cars. Often 1-year-old used cars aren't much of a deal compared to the sticker price. And if you go to 6 to 7-year-old cars, there's a greater chance of them needing costly repairs.

Remember the 15,000 miles per year rule. The average mileage per year on a car is 12,000 to 15,000. So if you divide the mileage on the car you're looking by its age and get a number lower than 12,000, it could be a good contender.

Buy a plane ticket 50-100 days in advance

According to Expedia, prices are headed down to most of the top 20 destinations worldwide. But just slightly. There is a window, however, where you can save. Expedia’s Air Travel Trends 2015 research says the best time to buy a domestic flight is 50 to 100 days in advance. Tickets sold during that period averaged approximately $85 less than the overall ticket price.

And for international travel, you should book even earlier — 150 to 225 days prior to departure, when ticket prices are $300 less than the overall average.