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Attention Early Birds! 12 Times Shopping Early in the Morning Can Save You Money

Who knew that morning is the best time to save money? But it’s true: All kinds of stores and service providers offer cheaper prices for morning customers. Here, smart ways to save cash before lunchtime.

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Amuse yourself

Many museums and botanical gardens, even theme parks and skating rinks, offer free or discounted admission before noon on certain days of the week, like Saturdays, when afternoon visits are proportionally greater than thinner morning crowds.

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Gas up

You’ll generally find the cheapest gas before noon. Big gas retailers set prices at about 10 or 11 a.m., according to Brad Proctor, the founder of GasPriceWatch. Proctor says gas prices go up right before noon about 93 percent of the time. In addition, buying gas in the morning, when it’s slightly cooler outside, gets you slightly more fuel, because the gas has more density than when it is warmer. And with gas prices as they are, every little bit helps.

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Grab some chow

While you’re gassing up, you might actually want to treat yourself to breakfast on the go—many gas stations offer “loss leader” deals on coffee and an egg sandwich or bagel and cream cheese for a dollar—less than you could make the same meal at home. With gas prices as high as they are, stores want to build customer loyalty. Offering cheap eats in the morning is one way to do this.

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See a movie

Some large theater chains offer discounts on tickets for movies that screen before noon.

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Fire up the oven

Avoid creating unnecessary heat and humidity in the house during summer days by doing oven and stove-top cooking in the cooler morning hours—then reheat your dish in an efficient microwave, which won’t heat up the house. You’ll save on cooling bills by not making that air conditioner work harder. Ditto for doing the laundry and running the dishwasher.

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Give the garden a drink

Giving your rhododendrons and roses an early-morning watering saves money on water because the liquid is more readily absorbed into the ground in the a.m. hours. It will evaporate more quickly in the noonday sun, which could mean watering again later in the day. Plus, any residual water left on the leaves by a morning watering will quickly dry out, preventing fungal and bacterial issues that can arise from evening watering, saving money on fungicides and other garden chemicals.

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Get your hair done

Some hair salons and barbershops offer early-bird specials to customers willing to come in for a clip before 11 a.m.

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Go shopping

Many stores have their “loss leader” sales in the early morning hours. You’ve seen the circulars: “Wool cardigans, $12, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.” Some even reserve their drastic clearance sales for morning hours—“take an additional 75 percent off clearance racks between 8 a.m. and noon.” Of course, this is only worthwhile if you need what’s on sale. If you are food shopping, you might save some money by doing it in the morning before you get really hungry. Afternoon shoppers, ravenous for dinner, have a tendency to buy food they don’t need.

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Hit the gym

Early-morning hours at the gym are very busy. Everyone wants to get a workout in before the workday begins. From 9 or 10 until noon, however, many gyms are ghost towns. Sign up with a gym that offers discounted membership fees for those who pump iron during “off-peak” hours.

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Make doctor appointments

The cost of the visit won’t be cheaper, per se, but you won’t have to wait as long if you get there first. And time is money. You’re out the door sooner and have more time to spend doing something else.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Quintessential Guide to Saving Money