9cIn our January 13th newsletter, we talked about ways to save money at the supermarket. (Did you miss it?  Are you signed up for our newsletter?  If not, take a moment to do it now!)

In this article, we are going to discuss a few other ways that you can save money this year.  You may already be utilizing some of these tips but hopefully you’ll find one or two that you can add to your arsenal.

First of all, let’s talk about insurance.  Shopping around for the best insurance price is always a good idea.  Check out http://www.insweb.com and http://www.netQuote.com for some comparisons.  Make certain that the insurer has a good rating before choosing them because you don’t want to sacrifice quality.  If you insure both your home and your auto(s) (or purchase another kind of policy) with one company, you can qualify for discounts (up to 20% when using St. Farm or Allstate).

You’ll also want to make sure that you have term life insurance and long term disability insurance.  The latter is VERY important.  Check out Zander Insurance http://www.zanderins.com/ for both of these.  They are recommended by Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover.  (I recommend term life insurance because it is the most inexpensive – no, you won’t get your premiums back at the end of the policy, but you’ll have good insurance and if you put the difference between the cost of term insurance and the cost of whole or universal life insurance into investments, you will still come out ahead.)

Ask for lower credit card interest rates.  We should all be trying not to use credit cards but sometimes it’s impossible.  If you’re working to pay down the amount still owed, you’ll still be charged interest.  Credit card companies have been increasing their interest rates to extraordinary heights lately.  Sometimes, though, you can get them reduced just by calling and talking to a customer service representative.  I’ve done this often and it works.  But….I still check my cards every 3 months, because those sneaky companies will raise the rates again and I find the need to call back.

Don’t Pay full price for ANYTHING!  Either wait for it to go on sale or search the internet for a coupon.  Just Google “coupon for “whatever you want to buy” and you’ll probably find one.  Also, when I find something cool in say….Pottery Barn, I’ll google the description and can usually find something similar at a much less expensive price.

Stock up on sale items.  Take advantage of those items that are on sale and won’t “expire”.  Toilet paper, paper towels, soap, aluminum foil, etc. can be purchased in large quantities.

Get the Largest Deduction amount available from the items you donate to thrift stores.   First of all, don’t toss out unused items; donate them.  And then keep track of when and what you donate – keep a list (2 sweaters, 3 short sleeved shirts, 2 pajama bottoms, 1 toaster, 2 toys, etc.).  A photo of the stack of  items couldn’t hurt either.  When you are using an on-line tax preparation such as Turbo Tax, be sure to utilize their tool for donations.  You’ll be surprised at the deduction you receive.

When renting DVDs, use the $1/night kiosks.  In many places they are known as Red Box Kiosks and can be found in grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.  If you watch a LOT of movies, Netflix or Blockbuster clubs may still be a better value.  Pay-per-View is NOT.

Save on electricity.  For every degree that you cut back on heating or cooling, it is estimated that you will save 1%.  That adds up in a year’s time.  If you use central heating and spend most of your time in one room, it might be beneficial to use a space heater.  As you know, seniors don’t tolerate the cold well and thus I always used a space heater for the room my father was in at the time.  Just be sure to abide by the safety rules for that particular heater.

Unplug unused appliances. Using a power strip for those “like” items gathered in one place such as printers, fax, desktop computer, TV, etc. is a good idea so that they can easily be turned off all at once.

I’ve always heard that CFL bulbs use less energy and don’t have to be replaced as often.  I haven’t found that to be true.  Having used them for 2 years now, I saw no reduction in electricity used and I had to replace them just as often as regular bulbs (at a higher price tag too).  I’d be curious to hear about your experiences with them.

Choose generic drugs when they are available.  This is obvious; I think that we all do this by now.  The one thing I will say is that if you ask some pharmacies for “the Walmart” price on a medication, they will often give it to you for that amount.  It’s worth a try.

Thrift stores and garage sales are our friends!   Choose thrift shops and attend garage sales that are located in the “better” parts of town.  My mother once went to a garage sale in Beverly Hills and came home with TWENTY FIVE brand new dresses for my little daughter at a price of $1/each.  A bonus to this is that you can bring Mom or Dad along with you to the garage sales and they can watch from the comfort of the car.  I have a friend who attends many garage sales and finds wonderful things to sell on eBay.  She does quite well, too.

If you have any other money-saving ideas, won’t you please share them with us?  We can all benefit by each other’s knowledge.


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