12 Smart Moves to Save More at IKEA

It's easy to think of IKEA, the Swedish ready-to-assemble furniture retailer, as a trap. The stores (56 of them across North America) are huge -- measuring out at 300,000 square feet, or three times the size of the larger supermarket chain stores where you may shop - and laid out as a long, winding maze.

IKEA would love for you to wind your way through the entire labyrinth, the better to make impulse buys from giant bins scattered throughout the store and filled with stuffed toys or ridiculously inexpensive household gadgets. You can easily spend a lot more time and money at IKEA than you initially planned.

Retail-shopping experts talk about an IKEA visit as if it's a wilderness trek. "Wear comfortable shoes, bring a bottle of water, and if you have the kids with you, plan to stop.

As with any adventure, you'll have more fun and avoid pitfalls if you plan ahead. You may not want to stroll every inch of the store, especially on busy weekends. It's a good idea to browse IKEA's online catalog (or get one of their hefty printed catalogs).

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