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Welcome to the MONEY SAVING BLOG where you'll find ever more
ways to save money. If you don't already have it, check out my eBook


for the absolute best ways to save money!

101 Ways to Save Money


Finally, at a time in our lives when our budgets are stretched tighter than ever before comes valuable advice on how to make our dollars go further. 101 Ways to Save Money will enable you to:
  • Save hundreds of dollars on credit card purchases.
  • Save thousands of dollars on restaurants.
  • Learn the “dilution solution” that can save you money on everything.
  • Find ways to make extra cash.
  • Cut your utility bills.
  • Gut your transportation costs.
  • Slash your entertainment costs.

  • For anyone who’s ever not had enough money or needs to get out of debt, this book’s for you. 101 Ways to Save Money is packed full of ideas, suggestions, tips and techniques that can put you on the path to a successful financial life.
    -- “This book can pay for itself hundreds of times over!”
    On sale now! $7.95
     

    Please note that even though many of these are not as powerful as the ones in the book, it's important to
    remember that everything is cumulative. So apply as many as you can in order to maximize your monetary savings, get out of debt and pay off bills!


    I've come round to adding new tips in chronilogical order (the latest are at the top). So if this is you're first time to visit, you'll find 75 tips at the bottom that use the same categories as those in the book. If you're a repeat visitor, just scan down to the newest tips towards the top. Thanks, Mike Wood.


    A friend of mine told me that instead of paying $5-6 for a fast food chain salad, he orders the $1 chicken sandwich and the $1 side salad. Tosses the sandwich bun and puts them together.

    Don't throw out that old shower curtain. They make good painting drop cloths.

    - I have found that for heavy computer use (2 hours or more per day), I get a little over three years out a computer before it dies. Typically, this is the motherboard, although the harddrive, video card or power supply are other culprits. At this point, one usually scrambles to get a new computer and wrings one's hands over the data that one failed to backup. When my most recent laptop died, with two trips to Frys I was able to get a harddrive case, pull out my old harddrive and transfer over most of my data to my new laptop (some programs do not transfer though). I was only out a couple hours for this (along with several more hours in shopping for a new laptop, and installing and learning new programs). I now realize that it would save time and headaches to just replace a computer after three years. Replacing it while it is still working well will make it a lot easier to copy your data onto a new computer. It will save you a huge amount of recovery time. And in a worst case scenario (dead harddrive) it will save you a large expense of data recovery.

    - Many retail items are sold under a "fair trade" status. This means that retailers agree not to mark the item down and only to sell it at the manufacturer's set price. For the consumer, this means that no matter who you try to buy it from, everyone has the same price. When you come up against this scenario, you won't be able to get a discount. So the next best way to deal with it is to try to get the retailer to throw something extra in. For instance, on a Temperpedic mattress, ask the retailer to throw in two free pillows.

    - Here's another one that applies if you live by yourself. Stop paying for trash pickup. Staying by myself, I generate very little trash. So I couldn't see paying $20 a month for trash pickup. Instead, I just use grocery store size plastic bags for my trash. Then, whenever I get groceries or get my car filled up with gas I simply drop a bag in the store's trash can.

    - Did you ever notice that when you turn on your wifi at your apartment there are many different networks available? If you live less than fifty feet from someone else's residence there may be a half dozen networks. So why should everyone pay full price for internet use when you could simply go in together with one or more of your neighbors and split the cost? In fact, that's what I recently did. In the condo I am renting, instead of signing up for my own internet service I simply got to know the neighbors next door and offered to split the cost with them. This would have dropped the cost from about $40 a month to $20 a month. But I took it one step further and got it down to zero. that's right, free internet.How? In many apartment/condo/townhome complexes there is assigned parking with each residence being alloted two spaces. If you live by yourself, you probably only need one space. Yet there are always a few people who have three vehicles (or two cars and a boat) that could use and extra space (especially if its covered). Simply offer to let one of these residences use your extra space in exchange for use of their wifi! Worked for me.

    - If you've got expensive lotions or sunblock, don't toss the bottle when you've squeezed the last of it out. Instead just cut it open. You' ll be able to get several more uses out of it by getting the portion that clings to the sides. Keep it in a zip lock bag during this portion.

    - If you have new carpet, tile, or laminate wood flooring installed, make sure you save the left over pieces. And if you don't have any left over, buy an extra hundred square feet. Believe me, you'll need it sooner or later when there's some kind of spill or damage to the floor. Having a matching piece will let you cheaply make a repair. But if you don't have a matching piece, you'll need to redo everything.

    - Don't you hate it when you want just a little bit of a can of soda and the rest gets wasted? You drink part of it, but then the rest goes flat before you have a chance to drink it on the following day. Years ago manufacturers use to make plastic lids that would snap on the the top of the can to seal it up. But eventually they made the lip of the can smaller and the lids no longer fit. Soda makers also make smaller eight ounce cans, but they tend to charge more for these than the standard twelve ounce sizes so that isn't a good option either. My solution is that after you drink part of a soda, just pour the rest into a small container. I use a chocolate milk container (the kind that comes in a kid's meal from McDonalds). Since they're pretty small and have a lid on them, they do a pretty good job of sealing in the carbonation (basically the equivalent to buying a bottle of coke).

    - Recyclable shopping bags are not just good for the environment, they can help you save money! The reason is it's much quicker to move through a store without having to push a cart, and when you spend less time in a store you spend less money. You'll tend to stick to your list more and buy fewer impulse items. Also, a bag holds a lot less than a cart does.

    - I was at Lowes today and was in line to check out with about $80 of stuff. I heard the cashier tell the person in front of me that her receipt had a coupon for $10 off her next purchase of $50 or more. I immediately divided my items up into two transactions so that my first purchase was $20 and my second purchase was $60. You guessed it, I received a $10 coupon on the first portion and applied it to my second portion. $10 saved, without having to wait for a return trip. could use

    - In #87 in the book, I talk about trading in used printer cartridges for free reams of paper at Office Depot or Office Max. These programs have changed. Office Max's current program offers you credit towards new cartridges. Office Depot's current program offers you a $3 credit off any purchase ' for any Lexmark, Canon or HP cartridge turned in. These programs come and go, so even if you have other cartridge brands, I would just hold on to them and chances are sooner or later someone will offer you cash or paper for them.

    - Gas up before or after a hurricane is approaching, but not when one is in the news. Yesterday gas was $3.32/gallon in the morning, but by the afternoon, Hurricane Gustav was getting play in the news. Gas immediately shot up to $3.44. There seems to be no end to greedy gas station owners taking advantage of people whenever they can.

    - Angel Food Ministries (anglefoodministries.com) buys in bulk and resells in bulk (one week's worth of food for a family of four) to consumers. They have no restrictions (income requirements, religious affiliation, etc) so anyone can utilize their services. Their one week package costs consumers only $30 (typical grocery store cost would be $65-70).

    - Usually i recommend buying used cars. Most people don't realize that the biggest car cost is not gas, but depreciation. And the newer the vehicle, the more depreciation you incur. However, of late, some domestic automakers (mostly with trucks) are offering half off MSRP sales. In many cases these trucks are being advertised for $15,000 - $20,000. Even some of the sedans are being heavily discounted. Many of these vehicles are selling new for much less than what they're selling for on the used market. Why some people continue to pay more for late model used vehicles than what they can buy a new one for eludes me. But the point is, if you're nearing the time to replace a vehicle, now is the time to look at a new vehicle rather than a used one.
    Some additional points to consider. It could be that you may just need a vehicle to last for three to five years. After that, we may see a lot of electric vehicles being sold.
    My latest purchase (having sold my beloved Land Cruiser and then our 4Runner) is a Subaru Baja. I have an occasional need for a small truck, yet also wanted to acquire an economy car so I could get good gas mileage (at least 30mpg). I looked at all these trucks for sale (along with Sport Tracs, Ridgelines, etc) and guess what, they all pretty much get 15mpg city and 20 mpg highway! Well this of course is terrible. Even my 4Runner was getting 22mpg around town. I had all but given up in my quest when I found this amazing vehicle - the aforementioned Subaru Baja. This is a 4 seater with a small truck bed. These get 30 - 32 mpg! Plus they're AWD and there's a hatch that opens to let you put longer items from the truck into the cab. What's the catch? This vehicle was only made from 2003 - 2006. Basically it was ahead of it's time. Nobody wanted a small truck that got good gas mileage then. Anyways, I just love it!

    - If you're getting ready to change utility providers, take date/time stamped digital photos of your utility meter. That way when they overestimate your final bill and try to charge you extra, you can prove that they just estimated and didn't get the real amount. I know they do this because I've been a victim.

    - Have you ever used a lot less electricity but had your rate go way up anyways? I have. In the worst case, after Hurricane Allison, I lost power for three days. But my electricity fee doubled. How could my usage double when I didn't even have power for ten percent of the month? When I complained to my electric provider I was told to pay up or be cut off! I have heard similar stories from many other people. The electricity and natural gas providers have a monopoly and they know it. Is there any solution? Not any cheap ones. The only solution I can see is to eventually wean yourself off the utility company by reducing your electricity usage as much as possible and then switching to a solar or wind powered system. Then you can cut them off!

    - We have an airport appreciation festival here that we go to every year. A $10 ticket gets you in and provides you with lunch, a chance to win prizes and more. For lunch they give you food tickets which can be redeemed for food. Typically these include wraps or subs. They give you more than enough tickets and many people give away extra tickets or leave them sitting on tables when they leave. I've found I can collect lots of these extra tickets and score 20 or 30 extra wraps. I always bring a cooler with ice so I'm ready to pack them up. Then I can freeze the left overs or treat every one at work.

    - Shutting off lights and fans. It amazes me how many people there are that think that leaving a fan on will cool a room down (I'm talking an enclosed room with no open windows). This is simply not true. A fan will merely make a person who is in the room feel cooler. If no one is in the room, no effect is felt. But perhaps 90% of the people in the country will leave fans on to "cool" a room that has no one in it. This just wastes electricity. Similarly, just as many people will leave lights on in rooms that no one is in. Even if its your workplace, there's no reason to waste electricity on unneeded fans and lighting. Turning lights and fans off will reduce costs and leave more electricity available for other users.

    - Hypermiling. I was already a fairly conservative driver before the gas prices went through the roof. I would time the intersections and usually coast in. Rarely drove over 70mph. I typically got 20mpg in my 2001 Toyota 4Runner. Now, I rarely drive over 65mph, and if there's not any traffic I'll sometimes just drive 55mph. I shift into neutral many places along my commute and try to use the brakes as little as possible. Now I always get 22mpg.

    - Save Marks-A-Lot caps. Danged if the kids don't get to using a Marks-A-Lot felt tip marker and the cap dissappears. Then the marker rapidly dries out over the next few hours and another buck or two has gone down the drain. I finally realized I should just save the caps from markers that had been used up. Now if a cap goes missing I have a spare.

    - Here's one I keep coming back to. I'm talking to a lot of people that are now spending $500 to $1,000 more per gas annually than they were a year ago. (If you drive 15,000 miles per year and you get 15mpg, then you use 1,000 gallons of gas per year. So when gas rises from $3 to $4 per gallon, your expenses go up $1,000 per year). Is this a bad thing? Sure. But that doesn't mean you should spend $30K to save $1,000 per year. A lot of people want to take their one or two year old SUV/truck/van that they paid $30 or $40K for and trade it in on a new econo car. But, many dealers aren't accepting SUV/truck/vans at any price. So there's just no way to sell them in today's market without taking a total bath on them. So basically if you have one of these you are going to lose $15K or more when you sell it. Then you're going to spend another $15 to $30K to buy a new econo car. That means in the end you'll be out $15 - $35K or more by the time you switch vehicles. And how about the fact that you're going to shell out another $1,000 or so for sales tax and registration on the new vehicle? For most people, they're going to be better off just holding their vehicle instead of getting a new one.
    The real solution is not going to be a different car. The real solution is going to be a paradigm shift - that is to say a complete change in the way you view transportation. We need to begin using gas guzzlers for special occasions, not for everyday use. For everyday use, we need to change our routines to include carpooling, buses, bike riding, etc. Perhaps this means coordinating with a neighbor for a trip to the grocery store. Or going in a little earlier so you can carpool with someone.

    - The main requirement we had when we went shopping for a house ten years ago was that it didn't have a pool (so we would avoid the extra expwnses of maintaining a pool). As luck would have it, after shopping for six months we found a home in an outstanding neighborhood that was wildly undervalued so we bought it. But it did have a pool. Well, the pools been fine, I just hate shelling out for cholorine s to maintain it. The lowest price I've found in the Houston area is at Warehouse Pools, buying 100 pound shock cannisters and 80 pound chlorine tablet cannisters at a time. But, there's a couple ways to save even more on this. First, if you sign up for their club, you earn points with each purchase that net you back approximately $5 for every $100 you spend. But here's the real trick - do your shopping on holiday weekends. On the July 4th weekend they give you triple or quadruple points. They sometimes do this on Labor day or other holiday weekends too. So by stocking up at the right times you can save up to 20%!

    - Always open up food boxes and look inside before you toss them. Often there are coupons printed on the inside. I remember one time when Chiquita frozen fruit smoothies had a $1 coupon printed on the inside and they were on sale for 79 cents! We bought a pile, took them out to the car, pulled the smoothies out of the box, took all the coupons back in and got another pile. we did this until the store was out!

    - Years ago we started out renting movies at Blockbuster and we spent maybe $20 - $30 a month. Then we switched to Netflix (and occasional movie from Blockbuster) which got us down to about $18/month. Then we switched to the library (free) and Randalls movie machine ($1.50/day) which lowered our costs to about $5/month. Now we're using the library (still free) and The Big Red Box ($1/day) which will knock us down to about $3/month.

    - There's no law that says you have to buy the entire bunch of bananas (or grapes or whatever). I find it's often better to pull two or three off than to buy a larger bunch, where the excess may go bad before you have a chance to eat them.

    - I'm amazed how many people I meet that have told me, "I spent $600, $1,000, $1,500 etc," on fireworks. We drive to a place three miles from home where there's a fireworks show that goes on a for a couple hours. We probably see fifty times as many fireworks and the cost is free!

    - Wells Fargo bank has a savings program for kids called Stagecoach Kids Savings Clubs. When you enroll your kids in this they get a, "savings buck," for every $3 deposit they make (occasionally a teller will even give you a couple extra ones). They can then redeem these savings bucks for rewards. These start at five savings bucks and go up to one hundred savings bucks. An example is a beach ball and bucket/shovel is 25 savings bucks and a stuffed animal is 35 savings bucks. This has been a great way to get our kids to save, plus they have gotten about four toys so far from this program.

    - I never know when our 5 and 7 year olds are going to eat their whole dinner or just a quarter of it. I'll often just start with a little dinner for myself and then finish off what they can't eat. I hate it when they have a mostly full plate of food that's just going to waste.

    - When I read in the paper (or if you hear on TV or radio) about food problems I stock up. For instance, when you read about a drought in Florida that is causing all the oranges to die out and that oranges will be going up, I stock up on frozen orange juice before the price starts going up. Similarly, with all the talk about corn being used for ethynol and corn prices going up, now is the time to stock up on canned and frozen corn.

    - My wife recently bought some laundry baskets to use for recyling. Even though they only cost $6.50, I knew I had some storage containers in another room that weren't being used (I'd have even been fine with cardboard boxes). Anyways, we ended up using our old storage containers and returning the new laundry baskets. Money saved - $6.40.

    - Try keeping some food in the car. Things like crackers will usually withstand hot and cold temperatures. The advantage is that if you or the kids becomes hungry you'll have something with you that you can snack on - rather than having to stop at a fast food joint and spend money (plus, depending on what you have it may even be more nutritious).

    - On those occasions where we end up at some attraction, the kids (age 5 and 7) always want a souvenir. Usually they want someworth less trinket that costs $15 or $20 but would break within an hour after we got home. Lately we've been letting them get the souvenir pennies. You know, the kind where you put four quarters and a penny into a machine and it presses it into an image of the place you're at. The advantage to these is the kids are happy that they got something, it won't break and it only costs you $1.01

    - Saving money is like losing weight, exercising and eating a healty diet. Everybody can tell you that it's what you should do, but only you can actually make the decision to do it for yourself. will cheer you on, but in the end, you must turn yourself around from a negative path to a positive path. Here's another carrot to dangle - your stress goes down a huge amount when you're not living paycheck to paycheck and you have an emergency fund in the bank.

    - More and more studies are showing that people who use credit cards (or debit cards) spend more than those who pay cash. One study showed that people who went to McDonalds spent 60% more on average if they used a credit card versus those who paid cash. Another showed that those who attended an auction spent 120% more on average if they used a credit card versus those who used cash. I feel that the further you are in debt the more this is true. If you have a lot of debt, it is very easy to put one more thing on a credit card, but a lot harder to pay with cash. Basically you know you have very little cash and you hold onto it as tightly as you can when paying out actual green backs. Conversely (in my opinion), if you have no debt and you completely pay off your credit card balance every month and you are frugal and don't waste money on needless purchases, there doesn't seem to be any difference between paying with a credit card or cash because you're watching every penny regardless of how it leaves the household. So I am recommending that if you are not debt free, you just pay cash for everything and don't bother with ANY rewards cards. Even gas cards. This will really make you watch every penny that much more. And only after you get to the point where you're debt free, you pay off every credit card balance every month, and you are used to being very frugal should you use a credit card for the rewards benefits. (American Express Blue is the current leader in paying you the most back on your purchases).

    - We keep our cell phones until they don't work anymore. I know a lot of people that buy a new cell phone every year, or at most every two years. They upgrade to the latest model that will do ever more with text messaging, photos, ringtones, games, watching videos, etc. I don't need the latest and

    - We steep our tea bags two or three times. They seem strong the first time, just right the second time, and a little weak the third time. Sometimes it's only two times simply because we don't need a third cup. But hey, this cuts the cost of our tea down by about 60%.

    - Expounding on something that Leo Gold said, you really can't depend on the government. Our leaders (as a group) have consistantly voted for bills that have supported oil companies and big business. I'm sure this is great if you own Exxon shares or a large corporation. But for the 99.999% that don't, government policies that have discouraged ultra high milage gas vehicles, electic vehicles, public transportion and solar power while supporting gaz guzzlers (tax credits for 3 ton Hummers anyone?) are really killing the working class. Oil was $30 a barrel until the day we invaded Iraq and has steadily gone up since. Sure, the theory of an oil producing democracy in the middle east was a great idea that appealed to many. But the three trillion dollar cost and the 4,000+ US lives and the disrupted oil supply that has pushed gas to record highs shows that the politicians don't care about the cost to US consumers (and more likely their children and grandchildren who will be stuck with the bill). At $135+ a barrel now, our government policies are making it harder and harder for the nonwealthy to make ends meet. And how about the propaganda about flex fuel (provided great credits so US automakers didn't have to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy Mileage rules but what has it done for you?) and ethynol? Ethynol has less energy than gas so your vehicle gets less mileage. In Brazil, its successful because they use sugar cane which has about six times the energy that corn does. Plus, they have an excess of sugar cane so it doesn't effect their food prices. But using it here has just been propaganda to try and make people think this is going to replace oil. Studies show that even if we planted every usable acre in the US with corn (and tore up everything else) it would still not produce as much energy as the oil we import. But somehow, our leaders want to placate us with this ethynol idea. But wait, there's a bonus. Your food bill has gone up 25% because of all the corn that's being diverted for ethynol. Corn is the number one food product used in the US. It is an ingredient in many processed foodsa and even in the packaging those foods are shipped in.
    Okay, coming off my rant. The point is it's up to you. You will have to change your lifestyle to find a place that has public transportation. You will have to make your own electic vehicle. You will have to decide to live in a house with a southern exposure that uses less energy etc. Don't expect anything from the government except for the bill. You have to come up with the solutions.

    - I save the spray nozzles from paint cans, bug sprays, etc. I've found that a lot of spray can nozzles will clog up over time. You can feel that the can is still full of paint (or whatever), but it just won't spray because the nozzle is clogged. Often the nozzle can be swapped out with another one and you'll bring you're can back to life. Alternatively, try storing/soaking the nozzles in paint thinner. This will often clear up clogs.

    - If you're getting ready to change a utility provider, or any company that you've set up autodrafting with, cancel the autodrafting before you change the company you're doing service with. Unfortunately, I've found through experience that whenever I've changed a utility provider that I've had autodrafting with, they continue to draft my credit card even after I no longer have an account with them. Then I have to spend a huge amount of time disputing the bill and getting the company to send me a refund. It would save a lot of time to just cancel the autodrafting and pay the final bill or two manually by check. One online music service continued to charge my credit card for six months after I had canceled with them and it took me just as long to get a refund. I've got an electricity provider that I'm still trying to get reimbursed for a $220 extra charge they made.

    - I think twice before going to the doctor. If you apply for life insurance, certain kinds of health insurance or some types of employment they'll want a complete list of doctors you've seen and full results of your visits. Depending on your health, this could adversely effect the amount you pay for insurance or your ability to obtain employment. This doesn't mean to forego health care and die instead of seeing a doctor in order to save a few hundred dollars a year on life insurance. It just means to be aware of the hidden costs of health care.

    - Buying and holding a vehicle can save you an incredible amount on depreciation. The 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser that I bought in 1994 for $9,000 had 92,864 miles on it when I bought it. I held it 14 years and put almost 200,000 additional miles on it. I sold it in 2008 for $4,500. So it depreciated $4,500 over 14 years. That's only $321 a year. Most new vehicles depreciate $4,500 the moment you drive them off the lot.

    - CHEAP SEATS: Drive-in theatres are experiencing a minor comeback. Our local drive-in charges $5 a person to get in (and occasionally $6 a car load). Compare this to a theatre that will charge $5.50 just for a matinee or $8.50 on up for a regular show. But wait, the savings don't stop there. At a drive-in you can bring all your own food plus you usually get to see a double feature.

    - Usually after you purchase a car or appliance you'll receive offers for extended warranties a year or two after you've bought the item. Generally, these are a great deal for the insurance company but a poor deal for the consumers. After all, the reason so many companies push these products is that the amount they pay out on claims is much less than the amount they take in on premiums. But what I'll do is hold onto these offers when they come in the mail. Who knows, maybe the following week my whatchamacallit will break down. If so, I'll send in the warranty and a month or so later file a claim.

    - Everyone's resistance to carpooling and changing our transportation system is my hot topic today. I work in a building with about 500 employees. About 80% of them are opposed to carpooling. That leaves 20% that like to carpool. But between living in the Houston area with everyone spread out over about 600 square miles, plus the fact that we work shift work so our schedules can be up to 11 hours different from each often means that there are no viable candidates to carpool with. But if the other 80% would join in, then the pool of people to carpool would go up five times. This would be enough to easily arrange carpooling. Unfortunately, the 80% who are opposed to carpooling are adamently opposed. They might suddenly have a whim to stop someplace on the way to or from work. It's just very frustrating from a money saving standpoint as those of us who can't carpool are just tossing money down the drain on gas. Concurrently, this being Houston there is no safe route to ride a bike. So your options are basically drive to work or die trying to ride.
    Meanwhile, I continue to hear commentators on the radio or read articles talking about ways to save money so that we can spend more on gas. I disagree with this idea. The gas based cheap transportation system is over. Face it, our leaders gambled that gas would remain cheap and we could party on. Oil was $30/barrel until we invaded Iraq and has gone up steadily since. Now, we have to make fundamental changes to the way we live. We need to coordinate trips with others and cut down on our trips overall. Increasing our spending on transportion until it consumes 16 - 40% of the family budget is not the answer. The answer is changing our habits and keeping our transportation expense where it was before this madness began.

    - I think in these times - the decline of unions, the decline of wages, a constant barrage of new fees, inflation and increased healthcare and transportation costs, continued government service cutbacks - basically causing the decline of the middle class; what it takes is a comprehensive long term strategy to maintain your standard of living (and still be able to put something away for retirement and emergencies). That means:
  • Not buying unless you need to
  • When you do need to buy something, finding the absolute best bargain
  • Reducing your cost of living; and
  • Finding sources of extra income
  • For me this is a push-pull strategy. On the one hand you are pushing down your expenses and on the other hand you are increasing your income. I've been doing this for over ten years (although I am much better at it now than at the beginning, especially on the spending side) and I find I am lightyears ahead of my peers. So many of them constantly buy the latest iPhone, wii, just released DVD, etc. Then they constantly complain how they'll always have a house payment and a car payment

    - I often see many people write about ways to find particular items for less cost (and I've done a lot of that too) - via some sale at a store or online. My latest thing though, is rather than checking flyers and online sites (fatwallet, slickdeals, etc) for hot deals just stop reading ads, listening to commercials and shopping - PERIOD! Okay, so you still need to buy groceries. But i've been motivated lately to just say we'll make do with what we have. A "good" deal still costs money. "No deal" costs nothing.

    - I'm not a big wine drinker. I go through a bottle about once every two weeks. My preference is Cabernet Sauvergnon. I've found that if you try enough brands over time you can eventually find one that tastes just as good as the $30 bottles but only costs $5. I know. Sounds like it must be terrible, but frankly it's outstanding. Numerous studies have shown that price effects how we perceive quality, but in blind tests tasters consistantly find cheap brands that taste as good or better than expense varieties. If you can get past the price stigna and just hunt around until you find one that you like you'll save yourself a lot in the long run. Oh, and Randall's will take 10% off if you buy a half case at a time.

    - Not too many bags get past me without being reused. I'm sure everyone is already using grocery store plastic bags for small household trash bags. But drycleaning bags can also be used for large, kitchen-sized trash bags (tie up one end if necessary). Newspaper bags can be used for lunches and odds and ends.

    - As a runner, I often put 300-400 miles on a pair of shoes every three months. Typically this is the limit before they must be replaced. But I recently realized that by changing my style of running I can get another 200 miles per shoe. When I used to use a standard heel-toe stride, the outside of the heels would wear first causing me to need to replace the shoes. Then when I switched to the Kenyan way of running (land on the ball of your foot), the ball of my foot area would wear first. Since I'm not racing competitely right now, I decided that my old shoes that had the heel worn could still be used if I just ran in them Kenyan style. Meanwhile, my other shoes that had the ball of the toe area could still be worn if I just switched back to heel-toe style with them.

    - Freestyle.org is a great place to give things to other people (and occasionally to pick up free items for yourself too). I also use Craigslist.com and Kingwoodyardsales.com to give stuff away on too. Of course this is great in that it prevents something from going to the landfill and also helps someone else out too. Recently I gave away a $185 UPS that wasn't working right (I had bought it for only $5, so it's not like I lost a whole lot of money on it). It was noisy and I had put a brand new fan in it, but then it started beeping all the time. I suspected the batteries might be bad, but thought it was more likely that it had some other problem. I figured the right person could either get it to work, or at least could salvage the brand new $18 dollar fan and some other parts from it. I had a whole bunch of emails as soon as I listed it. Right after someone picked it up, I realized I probably should have just listed it as "for sale, needs work" first. I may well have been able to pick up $10 or $25.

    - The chair back on my chair at the dining room table broke today. We had had continued problems with the backs being wobbly ever since we acquired this set. My first thought was, "this looks pretty bad, I guess we'll finally have to break down and buy a new set." But, I certainly didn't want to do that. So, I hauled it out to the garage. Fifteen minutes later I had it fixed. It will probably last a couple more years. Money saved.

    - If you get rear ended and there's no visible damage, don't be so quick to say, "no harm, no foul," and be on your way. This happened to me about a year ago. I was driving a car with an integrated plastic bumper. I looked at it after I had been hit and didn't see anything wrong with it. So I took off. About an hour later, white damage marks began to appear. The bumper had been pushed in and deformed but had taken on its original shape once the pressure was off of it. I always carry a disposable camera with me in case I'm hit by someone and I should have gotten her information and taken a photo that day. The dimenished value was probably a few hundred dollars, but I didn't realize the extent of it until the following day.

    - Return new stuff when you find the same thing at a garage sale. If you just bought a thing-a-ma-jig at a store for $20 and you happen to see the same thing a few days later a garage sale for $2, then buy the garage sale one and return your store bought one (assuming you still have the packaging and it's still new). I can't see throwing good money down the drain on something new if a used one is just as good.

    - Another point for exsessive spenders is to not beat yourself up too badly. Yes, we are each responsible if we get into debt and don't control our spending habits. But from our political leaders who set the example of running a deficit, to watching TV and movies where everyone lives a Hollywood lifestyle, to a bombardment of credit card offers - our culture promotes a culture of debt. And part of the process of getting off that train track is just being aware that society is manipulating you to be that way. People who are debt free and who have learned to 'just say no' are in the minority. And sometimes that actually means being looked down upon by friends who can't believe that you would rather order water than shell out $4 for a coffee.

    - For people who can't seem to stop buying things, my first recommendation would be to go cold turkey, and buy nothing but necessities (like groceries). If you absolutely can not do that, then give yourself an allowance. example - set aside $25 a week to spend on whatever you want guilt free, but everything else goes to necessities and savings. Concurrently, make sure your necessities are really necessities! nobody needs new clothes every month. Also, tune out commercials. don't read sales flyers. And frankly, it may require excusing yourself if you have spendthrift friends who constantly yak about their latest outfit or electronic gizmo.

    - I've got a Trac fone and my wife has Net ten. Costs generally work out to ten cents per minute with either one. But the Net TEN has been a real pain to reload with minutes and my wife often has to hold forever with Net ten customer service to get credited for minutes she's purchased. So I give a slight edge to the Trac fone. The thing is, either way you'll come out way ahead over T-mobile, sprint, nextel or whoever. First of all, since the minutes are prepaid there's no taxes and umpteen other fees lumped onto a monthly bill. In fact, you have no monthly bill at all. I usually purchase minutes about once a year and that's it. Your remaining minutes are displayed on your cell phone so you always know how many you have. Secondly, you can't find any plans for less than about $40/month with T-mobile or whoever by the time you add in taxes and fees. Even on a month of heavy talking I never spend more than $20 with my Trac fone. Finally, don't talk so much! What could possibly be so important that anyone needs to talk for hundreds of minutes (several hours) a month on their cell phone. I primarily use mine for emergencies, or occasionally to check in with my wife. Endless talking is just another way to increase your expenses.

    - I managed to go about six weeks without going in any stores. When I first walked back into one if felt strange. But it was a good feeling knowing that I had gone that long without spending anything. What brought me back was that I needed to replace two electrical plugs so I made a trip to Lowes. Fortunately, i had saved a $10 of $25 coupon and was able to use that. Also, I needed a pipe for a clamp. Instead of buying a new one, I went to the area where they cut the pipes. Sure enough there was a 5' scrap piece behind the pipe cutter. I pulled it out and was able to buy it for $1. A new one would have cost $10.

    - I always wear jeans/slacks twice, unless its something unusual like you've been walking around a festival all day long. For normal days, when you're typically in an air conditioned office or home most of the time, there's very little perspiration from your legs. I just leave a comb in the back pocket to remind me I've already worn that pair once. Similarly, sometimes I'll have been working in the yard all day. Those clothes will go right in the washer, but then we'll want to go to a friend's or whatever for an hour or so before coming back home and changing into PJs. If I've only worn a shirt for a short period I'll rewear it again too before washing. This saves a lot of ways:
    1. There's less wear and tear on the clothes from frequent washing
    2. You use less laundry detergent
    3. You use less electricity, gas and water since you run the washer and dryer less frequently
    4. And since the washer and dryer are run less frequently they last longer
    One more thing: Would you believe jeans manufactures recommend a life span of only 50 washers per garment? Basically they're saying if you wear a pair of jeans once a week you should toss them after one years use. That's not gonna happen at my house.

    - Spending money is addictive. It's a habit to shop, to buy at least one little thing for ourselves. It's a habit to stop by a fast food place on the way home and pick up a drink or whatever. I think for a while when I went a long time without any fast food/processed food, it seemed like I was just craving it, almost as if there was a withdrawal process. However over time, I have kicked the spending habit. I no longer have a desire to spend anything. I no longer have a desire to pick up some fast food. Instead they've been replaced by a desire to hold on to every red cent.

    - Right off the bat I'll admit I've given up being frugal. Why? Because frugal is too spendy for me! A miser would be a more descriptive term. In fact, my new mantra is: Not one red cent leaves my hands! Okay, so the bills (electricity, phone, etc) are all set on bank drafts and my wife does the grocery shopping. But I am keeping that wallet clamped shut! That means no grabbing an occasional drink from a fast food joint, no cable, etc. For gifts I try and write a heartfelt card or make something. And not looking at salesflyers, not going in stores as much as possible and not watching TV ad ads really goes a long way too. Despite rising gas and fuel prices (and with an unchanged salary for the last three years), the amount we've been able to save has tripled as we've continued to apply more and more tips for cutting expenses and saving more. Now, let's go on to some additional tips!

    TRANSPORTATION – CARS

    1. Because of aerodynamics, vehicles use less gas traveling with the AC on than with the windows down (at speeds higher than 25 mph). So don’t roll down the windows in lieu of using the AC in the mistaken belief that it’ll improve your gas mileage. But to save even more gas, shut off the AC compressor a minute or two before you arrive at your destination. Turning off the compressor will reduce the load on the engine, saving you gas. And even though the compressor has been turned off, you can keep the electric blower on and it will continue to recirculate cold air throughout your car for the final minute that you’re driving. Also, you’ve reduced the amount of time that the AC system is in use and will have extended its lifespan by a small amount too.
    2. Get a K&N air filter and never buy an air filter again. This after market filter yields better horsepower and gas mileage, but is cleanable, so you never have to buy a new filter. You just buy a recharge kit for it and clean & reoil it every 50,000 miles.
    3. If you will be doing any type of hauling, trailering or steep terrain driving, have a transmission cooler and temperature gauge installed in your vehicle. This $230 investment will greatly delay or prevent a $2,300 transmission rebuild.
    4. You’re dropping off the car to be serviced in your neighborhood and they don’t offer pickup/dropoff and your spouse would have to transport you. Is it possible to walk home? Saves gas and wear and tear on the car and helps you knock out your daily exercise at the same time.
    5. Instead of buying that big truck, can you just buy a midsize model instead and occasionally rent a trailer when you need one?
    6. Want a sports car? Instead of buying a new one (which will depreciate an average of 38% in the first year) consider buying a classic sports car. Most of these will hold their value, so you won’t lose any money on depreciation. Many will actually appreciate so you’ll sell it for more than you bought it for when you go to sell. Other bonuses: Typically lower insurance rates (get “stated value”) and lower maintenance costs as parts cost less.
    7. Can you drop the second car? You say you have to have it? What would you do if you were forced to go without it? Aha, so there is a way to survive without it. Dropping the second car saves a huge amount on insurance, maintenance, gas, etc. It’s always much cheaper to carpool, ride the bus or find other means of transportation. Plus, you’ll get the cash from the sale of the car or save the cost of your monthly car payments.
    8. Don’t spend $10,000 on a new car to avoid $1,000 of expenses on your current car. I see a lot of people who have a car that’s only two to three years old. The tires are getting worn down and they figure they’re about a year from having to replace the tires and about a year from a major tune-up. So they tell themselves that they can save money by buying a new car so they won’t have to shell out for new tires and a service visit. Think about it. A set of tires and a major tune-up averages less than one thousand dollars. But if you traded in your old car on a new car, you’d lose the cost of depreciation as soon as you drove the vehicle off the lot and you’d lose the cost of sales tax, license and registration fees. All together to replace your current car with a similar vehicle it would probably cost ten times as much as it would to just get a set of tires and a tune-up for the older vehicle.
    9. Want a cheaper car? Look for one with cosmetic damage. Small dents, hail damage, a bent bumper or other problems that make a car ugly can easily take $1,000 - $3,000 off the cost of a car. A “beater” could save you a lot of money.
    10. Best way to get a new car cheap? Buy the “one only” special. You’ve probably heard the suggestion about bargaining up from the invoice rather than down from the sticker price. And you’ve also heard about asking for the credit union/fleet manager price. But those prices are still over invoice. The way to get a car for less than the invoice cost is to watch the classifieds ads every day. When you see the model you’re looking for advertised as a “one only” special make a beeline to the dealer and buy it before someone else does. I’ve only bought myself one new car in my entire 30+ years of car driving. It was a Toyota Camry, a popular model that usually sells for a couple thousand dollars over invoice. Using this technique I was able to get it for $800 below invoice cost.
    11. Which one of these used car deals is the best one? Car A is used car with 89,000 miles for $9,900 and Car B is the same year and model car with 90,100 miles for $10,000. If you guessed A you could easily be costing yourself $1,000 more than if you chose B. The reason is that most vehicles have a major service due at 90,000 miles. This may typically cost $600 - $1,500 depending on the model. What's important here is to check and see what the service intervals are and whether or not the car your looking at has just had the service. In the case above, if car B has just had a $1,000 service and Car A will soon need it, Car B would be the much better deal. Major items to watch out for on service intervals are timing belt changes, valve adjustments, tune ups and fuel injection system cleaning.
      Another thing you'll notice once you know what the service intervals are is that if there is a major service interval due at 90K miles, there will be a whole bunch of cars with 85K-89K miles for sale.
      On a related note, the same principle applies to car warranties. If the warranty is for 4 years and/or 50K miles, then you'll find a whole bunch of cars for sale with 45K-49K miles.
    12. If your car is in a minor fender bender, consider pocketing the insurance settlement inlieu of having the vehicle repaired. If it's the other person's fault, you receive money to cover damages plus a "diminished value" settlement. What is diminished value, it's the amount of money to offset the loss of value for a car that's been in an accident vs. one that hasn't. Nowdays, even a small dent is at least several hundred, if not a couple thousand dollars to repair. So what happens if you don't have your car repaired and you go to resell it someday. Won't it be worth less? Maybe a little bit, or in some cases not at all. If you keep your vehicle long enough a small dent will seem so minor compared to the car's overall condition that it's effect on the vehicle's value will be negligible. Even if the car if fairly new, if the dent is very small (a ding in the fender for example) then the effect will still be negligible.
    13. If you have an older vehicle and you have an unobtrusive section with a small area of rust through or a small dent, consider repairing it yourself. Bondo, is cheap and easy to use. You can patch a small hole and repaint it with touch-up paint for less than $20. The same repair at a body shop would probably cost $350 - $1500. Will your repair look as nice? No. Will it be good enough to make the car look better and improve it's resale value by several hundred dollars? Yes. And that's what counts.
    14. Simple car calculator: If you're thinking about getting a new car because it get's better gas mileage, just compare the following items: Number of miles you drive per year; expense per mile (# of miles divided by miles per gallon times cost per gallon); maintenance expenses, insurance expenses and depreciation. Do this for your present car and your proposed new car. What usually happenes is you save a few hundred or at most a thousand dollars on gas per year. Maintenance is higher on the older car but insurance costs are more on the new vehicle so that's pretty much a wash. But the big difference is that the old clunker is paid for and has no depreciation (to speak of) while a new vehicle will cost you $15-35K most of which will be depreciated a way. And that $15-30K covers on lot more that you would save on many years of gas savings.
    15. Do you still need an autoclub? Years ago there were a lot of benefits to autoclubs. Cars were more likely to break down and you could get free maps and trip planning. Now-a-days, cars are much more reliable and anyone can get a route to anywhere through Mapquest or any of a number of internet sites. Unless you're driving a really high mileage car you may not need to shell out $120 a year or so to keep an autoclub membership.
    16. We've all heard that we shouldn't carry any extra weight around in our cars. Keeping the trunk filled with junk may cost you 2-5% in gas mileage depending on how much your junk weighs. But what about the spare tire? You'll definately want to keep it for road trips. But if your tires are fairly new and 99% of your driving is just around town then you may be able to just leave the spare in the garage. Yes, there is a possibility you could have a flat and you might have to call a spouse to bring you your spare tire, but chances are that's pretty slim if you replace your tires on a regular basis. (obviously if you like to run your tires until their bald then you'll need to keep your spare with you).
    17. Don't get caught up in the "dump the SUV" hysteria. Okay, if you are using a gas guzzling SUV to commute long distances you've got a problem. But if your SUV is just being used for hauling a boat or occasional trips it might not be as expensive as you think. Consider that an SUV that gets 18 miles per gallon and is driven 7,500 miles per year costs $1,667 per year in gas costs at $4 per gallon. But a car that gets 30 mpg and is driven for 15,000 miles per year costs $2,000 in annual fuel costs. The SUV is actually costing you less, so long as it is only used as a secondary vehicle and not as a primary commuter.
    18. TRAVEL & VACATIONS

    19. Big drinkers? Stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel. They have a free happy hour every evening.
    20. Love to travel but airfare too expensive? Can you pick up a part time job with the airlines? A few hours a week could yield a lot of free air travel.
    21. Always bring paper plates, and plastic silverware to your hotel on trips. Good for room service pizza, reheating leftovers in a microwave, etc.
    22. Order pizza in your hotel room. It’s much cheaper than room service, its good a higher percentage of the time, and you can use a coupon on it (Pizza Hut works great).
    23. Is your family going to be in a hotel room that doesn’t have a fridge or microwave for a week in an area with expensive restaurants? A family of four or five could end up spending $100 or more a day on eating out. You could pack a hot plate in your luggage, but a mini fridge or microwave would be too large to bring on the plane with you. What if you just bought a fridge and microwave when you arrived? Just take them to your hotel room and get your own food. If you spent $100 on the fridge and microwave and $100 on groceries, you’d come out $500 or more ahead for the week!
    24. You can get free maps and travel information from every state. Just go to the states website and look up travel. Similarly, go to the local chamber of commerce or cities website and they’ll often send you a coupon book for their town.
    25. Need multi-state maps, local maps, or hotel guides and have a friend in AAA? Ask them to pick one up for you or to give you their old one.
    26. Does your discount airline have a great rate one-way but not on the return? Check with other airlines. Sometimes you can split tickets and still come out ahead.
    27. Take a camping/backpacking vacation instead of a regular vacation. Every day that you camp you’ll save the cost of a hotel, restaurant meals, gas and attractions. If you work it out right, you can even arrange to be dropped off and picked up (for places you fly in to), saving you the cost of a car rental too. Typical savings are $1,000 – 2,000/week, even factoring in spending the final day at a hotel or RV park so you can get a shower before you return (see #17).
    28. Consider a backpacking vacation in central America or Mexico. How cheap can you do this? I spent three weeks mountaineering in Ecuador for $200, and that included six nights in hotels, seven days of restaurant meals, numerous taxis, buses, trains and a mule rental. Think that’s cheap? I once spent two weeks in Mexico for $80. That trip included three nights of hotels and restaurant meals along with taxis and buses too.
    29. Planning a backpacking/kayaking trip and need to plan for a shower after coming in from the wilderness? Instead of getting a hotel, just stop by an RV park. They typically charge about $6 for a shower. Bonus, you can use their pool too!
    30. Learn to go with the recreation in your area. Snow skiers who live in Miami face a lifetime of big vacation bills (airfare to ski areas). Scuba divers who live in Jackson Hole face a similar lifetime of big vacation bills (airfare to the coasts/islands). Find local sports you like. Can’t find any? Consider moving to an area you do like.
    31. Save your in-flight headphones from your previous trips and you won’t have to purchase a pair on your next trip. Or for Continental Airlines, make an on-line baggage check-in and they will give you a coupon for free headphones.
    32. At a hotel with a free breakfast? Grab an apple and an orange while you’re there and save them for lunch later. You’ll be fuller and won’t have to order as much at lunchtime. Plus, they’re less calories and healthier than almost anything you would order.
    33. Always get a print out of hotel amenities that are listed on the hotel’s website. If they fail to come through with the amenities you went there expecting them to have, show them the printout when you check out and request an adjustment.
    34. FREQUENT FLYER MILES AND CASH BACK CARDS

    35. Ususally paying your taxes with a credit card is a bad deal because of the 2 1/2% convenience fee that the IRS charges. However, if you time it right the Citicards Cashback returns card will pay 5% back on all charges up to $7500 for the first 90 days. So, if you apply for this card and pay your taxes within the 90 day window you could potentially earn 2.5% on your tax payment.
    36. Recently, I've noticed credit card deals to get a $100 gift card after your first purchase. I apply for the card, make a purchase, collect $100 and pass go, then lock the card away for the rest of the year. When i've had the card for about 10 months I cancel it. The reason I don't immediately cancel it after collecting the $100, is that frequent rapid opening and closing of credit lines can negatively impact your credit score. And a reduced credit score could cost you more in insurance or loans later on.
    37. If you will be applying for a loan in a few months (and you have the discipline to not max out your credit cards), consider having your credit limits raised. By having a higher ratio of credit available to actual amount of credit being used, you'll achieve a higher credit score which will help you get a lower loan rate.
    38. Similarly to the above, if you're getting ready to apply for a loan stop using your credit cards and start paying for everything by cash or check. This will also keep your credit ratio high.
    39. ENTERTAINMENT

    40. Take me out to the ballgame, but not if it’s going to cost me $155. The average cost for a family of four to attend a baseball game in 2004 was $155.52. The average cost for a family of four to attend a basketball game? Try $260! Ballgames are free on TV. If you can’t live without going to a ballgame then factor in the cost into your entertainment budget. It may well cause you to rethink it.
    41. Concerts are much cheaper on CD. The average cost for a family of four to attend a music concert in 2004 was $184. Often it’s not just the price of the tickets for music and sporting events. It’s the parking, food, drinks, gas and souvenirs.
    42. Take up cheap hobbies instead of expensive ones. Examples: woodworking pays you back in furniture and gifts you can make yourself along with repairs around the house; Pickup basketball keeps you healthy; Sewing lets you make clothes and repair clothes for your family. Compare these to golf or scuba diving, which are very expensive.
    43. Check radio station websites for free concerts. I’ve found a number of free concerts in the Houston area just by checking radio station websites. While these aren’t the number one acts in the country, you can still see a great show.
    44. Some museums, zoos, etc have free days. In Houston, the zoo is free on holidays and the Museum of Natural Science is free on Tuesday afternoons after 2PM. The Children’s Museum is free on Thursday evenings.
    45. Do you really need that new CD? Come on, do you still listen to the Macarena? Most people have hundreds of CD’s (some have thousands). You can’t possibly listen to them that much. The latest hit is old in a couple months. If you really have to have something, put it on your birthday or Christmas list and remember - radio is still free.
    46. Do you really have to have that new DVD? How many times do you still watch Star Wars? Well, if you do still watch movies multiple times, why not just go to the library and rent them for free? If you really want it, put it on your Christmas or birthday list.
    47. Instead of spending money on movies or other expensive forms of entertainment, get an annual membership to a zoo! This typically pays for itself in only two trips. Make this a family fun activity and go every month. Don’t try and see the whole zoo every month (and in effect, see the same thing every time), but aim to see one or two sections each month, and any new special exhibits. Unlike amusement parks or other places that have annual passes, zoos typically have free parking and allow you to bring in your own food, so you can keep from spending any additional money.
    48. Enjoy the opera/symphony but can’t foot the big cost of tickets? Become a volunteer or part time worker and get tickets for free! Many opera houses have a need for ushers.
    49. Start a video club and pass your videotapes around amongst family, friends or neighbors. This will let you stop (or at least reduce) paying for video rentals.
    50. Start a magazine/book club and do the same.
    51. If you’re spending more than $15/month on videos (and you don’t want to use the free videos from the library idea) switch to Netflix.com. This online service lets you rent an unlimited number of DVD’s for only $14.99/month. Not only will you save money on rentals, but you’ll also save on gas (no trips to the video store) and time. You simply log into the site and select the movies you want. They’re delivered right to your mailbox via the post office. When you’re done watching, you place them in the prepaid postal mailer and return them.
    52. Going to a festival, ballgame, amusement park and want to split a drink with someone? Oftentimes if you ask for an empty cup to split a drink in two they won’t be able to give you one, but they’ll be more than happy to sell you one for a dollar or two. To avoid this ridiculous fee, just keep an extra cup in your fanny pack/purse/etc. The kind that you get at a motel that come prewrapped in protective cellophane are convenient and will stay clean.
    53. When you go out of town you know to look up the destinations website and have them send you coupons. Why not do it for your own town? Go to your own town’s website and have them send you their coupon book too.
    54. Tuesday's are usually the cheapest night to go out to eat. Restaurants offer more drink specials, free appetizers, and kids eat free prgrams on Tuesdays than any other day. Wednesday and Monday are the next cheapest nights.
    55. Sign up for email clubs. Its an easy way to get free appetizers, ice creams, etc. After you sign up for a few of these, you'll see that some have deals like "get a free appetizer with purchase of an entree." IF it's the kind of place you go to on a regular basis, then that's fine. But usually I quit those clubs and just stay with ones that simply give you a free item with no restrictions. Two of the best are La Madeline, which gives you a free pastry on your birthday and Cold Stone, which gives you a free ice cream dish on your birthday. Want to make this even better? Have your whole family put in birthday dates that are only one day apart. That way you'll all get offers during the same time period and you can all get something at once!
    56. Splitting one entree when you go out to eat not only cuts down on the food costs, it also lowers your tip (and sometimes taxes) costs. If an entree is $18 you could easily save an extra $3. Not too much, but over the course of a year it's $156.
    57. GIFT GIVING, BIRTHDAYS, CHRISTMAS, ETC

    58. Drawing names for large families can slash your holiday gift costs. If you have a large family, buying gifts for dozens of people can be overwhelming. As an alternative, you can set up a system whereby everyone’s name goes into a hat and each person draws a name. You only give a gift to the person whose name you’ve drawn. Not only will this cut everyone’s cost, it will also reduce the time they need to spend shopping too. Minimizing the number of gift’s you need to give will allow everyone to receive one very nice gift instead of a number of smaller gifts (that givers may have had to compromise on because of budgetary concerns).
    59. Always giving gifts back and forth to your best friend? Circle of friends? Somebody has to break the cycle. Put on a brave face and explain that you’d like to end the practice. If you need to, you can always fall back on an excuse (kid’s are heading to college, we’re looking at retirement, we just had kids, we’re down to one paycheck, etc – there’s always something).
    60. When you’re at a store and you see kid’s toys on clearance, stock up and keep a few extras on hand for children’s parties that your kids get invited too.
    61. Agree to set limits as to how much you will spend for each other (spouses) on presents. Another option: Say you’ll give each other one small item ($10-20) and give each other the gift of using the money that would have gone to presents towards an extra bill payment instead.
    62. Are you still buying a new Christmas tree every year? Fresh trees run $30-$300 and last three weeks. An artificial tree costs $10-$30 at a garage sale and lasts a lifetime. You do the math.
    63. MAKING EXTRA CASH

    64. Won tickets to a concert but can’t go? Put up a for sale sign at work or sell them on eBay for extra money.
    65. Sell that wedding dress you’ve been keeping. If you’re daughters old enough, ask her if she wants it. If not sell it. Did you want to wear your Mom’s dress?
    66. Don’t fall for envelope stuffing, medical transcription and other similar, “Make thousands working from home,” offers. Studies have shown most of these are scams. You’ll typically pay a lot of money to get set up and then won’t get any business.
    67. Try a shotgun approach to making money. That is to say; try a lot of different small business ideas. Try ones that require little or no investment and just continue to do different things until you find one that you enjoy that pays you well. For myself, for a while I had a woodworking business and sold items that I had made myself (mostly craft shows along with some wholesale sales to retailers). I enjoyed this but found I could only make $10 per hour at it. Mountain guiding was another business I started. But while the business covered the cost of trips, we never made any money at it. Still, it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it. Buying items (primarily from garage sales) and selling them on eBay was another business I started. I found I could average $35 an hour doing this and a lot of it was pretty fun too.
    68. Before you order anything from a website, first sign up with eBates.com. Then click through eBates.com to get to the website you want to order from. You'll get anywhere from a 1 to 25% rebate back on your purchase. Admittantly, I was leery of this at first and I thought the prices would be higher after clicking through. But I've always checked the price independently and it's always been the same price whether I click through eBates or not. And eBates really does send you a check!
    69. This is a long term money making strategy for your house. Remodeling your house typically pays back 50-90% of the cost of remodeling. In other words, if you have your kitchen remodeled at a cost of $30K and you get 90% back at the time of resale, you'll typically get back $27K (which is actually a $3K loss). But remodeling estimates are based on contractor done jobs. If you did the same kitchen remodeling job yourself, you might only spend $8K (figuring most of the expense is labor and contractors aren't going to bargain hunt for supplies like you would if you were paying for them directly). After doing the job yourself, your house is still worth $27K more. The difference is that since you only spent $8K, you made a profit of $19K. One caveat: You always have to stay within the value range of your neighborhood. So if all the homes in your neigborhood are worth $150-200K and yours is worth $195K, if you do a $30K kitchen remodeling job you'll only end up adding $5K, because that will top you out at the neighborhood maximum of $200k.
    70. Sell extra coupons. We buy double Entertainment books because they pay for themselves so many times over. But there are still lots of coupons in there that we can't use. Recently we pulled out all the Kroger $5 off coupons and sold a package of nine of them for $10.
    71. CONTESTS, WINNING

    72. Avoid the lottery and gambling. These are known among many people as a “special intelligence (or lack thereof) tax.” $10/week spent on the lottery is over $500/year.
    73. Listen for radio station contests while you’re at work (if allowed) and at home. I average twelve wins a year, just by listening while I’m doing something else and dialing in at the appropriate times. Items with a cash value of under $600 are not reported to the IRS. A free dinner or concert every month is a great way to reduce your expenses.
    74. Bring a stack of business cards to festivals. Drop lots in fishbowls and you’ll increase your odds of winning.
    75. Watch out for “free” trips. Sometimes they’re timeshares that cost more than they’re worth. Free meals or a night out can sometimes cost more than they’re worth depending on how much it costs you for a baby sitter, if you need one.
    76. SAVING & INVESTING

    77. Can’t find any way to save? As a last resort, you can use the government to save for you in the form of a tax refund. Simply reduce the number of exemptions on your W4 form (which will increase the amount of your tax withholding). You’ll get a larger refund at the end of the year. Keep reducing your exemptions over time until you get to zero. Once you’re at zero, your refund (the amount that the IRS saves for you) is likely to be several thousand dollars. Note: There is a drawback to this. You are letting the government draw interest on your money, instead of doing this yourself. So you lose the amount of interest you would have drawn, along with any advantages this capital may have provided throughout the year (see suggestion #52).
    78. Don’t let the government draw interest on your money when you could be doing so. To gain maximum advantage from the IRS, you should strive to pay them, rather than have them owe you a refund. Set your exemption level to the point where you’ll owe the IRS about $1,000 at the end of the year (you can’t set the amount you owe too high or you could face penalties). Then, with the extra money you receive every paycheck (the amount that would have gone to tax withholding), simply set it aside in a savings account. The money will still be available for taxes, so it won’t catch you short at the end of the year. Only now, the difference is you’ll also gain all the interest you earned on your savings. If you used an HSBC account paying 5% and your average balance was $500, you’d get an extra $25 for the year. Not exactly a windfall, but enough for the government to treat two people to dinner.
    79. BILLS

    80. Move high interest rate cards to low interest rate cards. If your low interest rate card is maxed out, call the bank and see if they would consider raising the limit to allow you to move higher rate card balances. Make sure you cut up the higher rate card after you transfer the balance. Don’t do this just to borrow more and don’t do this if you don’t have the discipline to cut up the higher rate card.
    81. Don’t time your house to be paid off when your retirement begins. Aim for 5, 10 or 20 years prior. Adding a small amount to your principal payment each month can often cuts years off your payments and save you thousands of dollars on interest.
    82. Watch out for “buy now, no payments and no interest for one full year” sales pitches. Sometimes with these types of promotions if you fail to pay the item off before the specified date, you’ll get hit with huge interest fees. And the “buy now, pay later” pitch can talk you into an item you really don’t need or can’t afford. If you can’t afford to pay for the item, consider saving until you can or purchasing a used model instead.
    83. Most of our bills are set up on autodrafts (through credit cards or checking accounts). That works great because they're automatically paid on the last possible day and we don't have to spend a stamp. But we still get occasional bills that come in that aren't keyed to autodrafting. Some of these are for things such as auto registrations, final bills when you change utility providers, etc. Some of these bills need to be sent in so that they process by a certain date. But others, like vehicle registrations can be paid on the very last day of the month over even a few days into the next month (we can pay them at grocery stores here in Texas). What's the advantage to paying these on the last day of the month? If you have $100 of bills that come in every month and you manage to pay them at the end of the month instead of at the beginning (make sure you don't go into a penalty phase), then you manage to float $100 extra in your bank account year round. At 3.5% interest that's another $3.50 per year. Is that much at all? No! But even if it's a tiny saver like this, if you start applying one hundred of them then you've got an extra $350 per year. And that's not counting any big savers. Just the tiny ones.
    84. Don't ever pay any late fees! IF you've been paying them, starting paying your bills on time. Set up autodrafts so they're paid automatically. If you've got at least a six month track record of ontime payment, you should be able to argue your way out of a one time late payment. Just call the (typically credit-card) company and explain how you thought the payment had been sent on time, expound upon how all your other payments have always been on time and promise that it won't happen again. If you ask they'll almost always waive the late fee. But - only if it's a rare lapse. If you're late every time then you can forget it.
    85. Scrutiinize all your credit card statements and other bills. It's rare that a month goes by that I don't find an overcharge for something or other. The phone company decides to slip in a new fee, or some account you had been automatically paying some company with by credit card that you had cancelled suddenly starts showing up again. Companies are eager to start autodrafting but it's definately much harder to get them to stop. When you find an overcharge or an inappropriate charge get on the phone to the credit card company and to the company that did the overcharging. I'm on the phone about an average of an hour a month but it probably saves me $50/month.
    86. MONEY SAVERS - COUPONS

    87. Don’t buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. Make sure it’s something you will use.
    88. Find at least one friend or relative to swap coupons with. After you go through your coupons and clip all the ones you want, swap the remainder.
    89. Don’t have a coupon? Ask for a discount. Many places will give one if you’ll only ask. Just say, “Would it be possible to get a discount on that.” Some places keep extra coupons in a drawer behind the counter. We’ve had especially good luck at this at optometrists, plexiglass & steel suppliers, veterinarians and more!
    90. FOOD

    91. Develop a “Frugal Friday’s” plan. Can you specify one day to use up all the leftovers? Or what about one day as a beans and rice?
    92. Using the last two slices of bread to make a sandwich? Instead of grabbing a Zip lock, just use the bread bag itself! And yes, if I use a Zip lock and its not greasy I rinse it out and reuse it. Plastic grocery bags can be used to store food in too! I do use Zip locks when I need to but I don’t buy many of them.
    93. Keep a spare zip-lock in your purse/briefcase. You never know when someone will be giving away free food at a seminar. You paid for the seminar, even if only with your time. You deserve your share of the food.
    94. Does your bread occasionally become moldy? Make it a habit to put half the loaf in the freezer in a gallon zip lock bag when you first get the loaf home.
    95. Make your own Popsicles. Just get plastic Popsicle containers and fill them with fruit juice. It will be healthier than ice cream!
    96. Make it a habit to keep a bottle of Gatoraid, water, or your favorite sports drink packed in your gym bag so you won’t end up buying a high priced one from a vending machine. Want it cold? Take an empty plastic sports bottle and pour half your drink in it and freeze it. Before you get ready to leave, take the bottle out of the freezer and pour the other half in it. The bottle will stay cold for hours.
    97. Skip desserts at restaurants. Why not just pick up pie or ice cream at a grocery store/bakery on the way home? You’ll have a week’s worth of desserts for the price of one or two desserts at a restaurant. Plus, by the time you get home your food will have settled and you’ll be less likely to overeat and gain weight.
    98. Restaurants work on a standard “up sell” program. If you order one thing, they try to up-sell you to a combo with more items. While you do get a little more food, the price keeps going up and up. Some restaurants have training programs and almost every low priced item on the menu has something else that the server has been keyed to try and up-sell you on. Don’t be talked into something you didn’t order.
    99. My wife recently pointed out to me that she brews her tea twice. Duh, why didn't I think of that. Typically the first steeping is pretty strong anyways. I find the second steeping is actually just right to my taste. And now my tea cost has been cut in half!
    100. HOLD THE HOLD: Recently when placing a to-go order at a restaurant my son wanted to order a fettuccine alfredo dish. It came topped with chicken, mushrooms and peas. Since my son doesn't like mushrooms or peas, my wife initially told the order taker to hold the mushrooms and peas. Overhearing this I asked her to just put them on the side. Doing this let us receive one container of peas and another one of sauteed mushrooms with are order. This was enough for two side dishs for another meal. And two extra side dishes means less $$$ spent on groceries.
    101. Consider ordering to-go instead of eating out. You'll get the same high quality food and save all the time and trouble of meal preparation. But you'll save the cost of a tip, drinks and most likely dessert (which you'll probably already have in the freezer). Typical savings is one third to one half of the meal cost!
    102. Very little food gets wasted here. If the kids have leftovers I'll probably eat it so that it doesn't go to waist. That food represents after-tax dollars. And no, I'm not an obese guy that eats everything in sight. But I am a 150 pound miser.
    103. SHOPPING – How to shop

    104. Always ask for extra large bags when you check out at department and office supply stores. They make great free full size kitchen trash bags.
    105. Shop backwards! No, I don’t mean to walk backwards. What I mean is to reverse the pattern stores have set up for you to shop in. Everything about the way a store is laid out is designed to make you spend more money. In a grocery store, typically the entry leads you into a clockwise pattern that starts in the produce department. The bright colors of the produce can make you hungry and most of the impulse item displays are aimed so as to face someone walking in the pattern that has been designed for you to follow. Instead of following the program, be a rebel! Walk directly through the produce section to the other end of the store. Don’t do any shopping until you are at the other end of the store. Once there, you can shop as you walk back towards the entry.
    106. To really save money, don't even go to any stores unless absolutely necessary. Stop all catalogs you are receiving and unsubscribe to all email alerts. The less opportunity you have to purchase anything, the less you'll spend.
    107. If you see something for sale at a garage sale that you just bought at a store, then buy the garage sale item and return the store item.
    108. SHOPPING – where to shop

    109. Items at the checkout counter are high profit impulse items. You didn’t come in for any of those items, so don’t fall for them when you check out.
    110. Get your specialty items at grocery stores. Baskin and Robbins makes good ice cream cakes, but they have them at the grocery store too for a lot less. Sam’s Club has big ice cream cones and mini-bowls cheaper than specialty stores too.
    111. Wal-Mart places the cheap, lowest price items in the middle of the main aisle to attract your attention. These items are usually priced much lower than competitor’s prices and often are very near cost. However, once they have your attention with the super low priced item, shoppers normally turn into the side aisle to compare different models. There, you’ll find models with more features, but at much higher prices. These item’s prices sometimes aren’t lower than competitor’s prices and may be high profit items. Make sure if you see an item with more features in the side aisle that you comparison shop with other retailers for the best price before you get suckered in to buying it.
    112. Watch out for small profit makers at specialty shops. A vacuum bulb that sells for $3 at a vacuum shop might only be .79 cents at a discount store. A plastic skimmer basket that’s $10 at a pool store might only be $1 at a bargain store.
    113. For the cheapest prices on camping gear, log on to Sierratradingpost.com. They only sell overstock, clearance and 2nds. Or try Campmor.com’s “Super Special Deals”. For cheap prices on running gear, try Roadrunnersports.com or Hollibird.com.
    114. Buy items you use a lot in bulk when they’re on sale. The limiting factor is the lost use of the money going to the item, in lieu of bills or savings, the expiration date of the items, and the ability to store the items. Example, say you drink a six-pack of soda a week, and you have a chance to buy a year’s worth for $52 ($1/six-pack). We’ll say your brand of soda normally costs $2/six-pack. So buying a year’s worth, (assuming that’s the maximum you could store), will save you $52 over the course of the year. But, if you spend $52 for a year’s worth of soda, when you normally would have just bought a single size pack for $1, you’ll have shelled out an extra $51 this week. And if that forces you to carry over $51 on a credit card that you would have paid off, then you could end up paying interest on $51 until its paid off at the end of the year. Depending on your interest rate, you could pay as much as $10 in interest. $10 in interest spent is less than $52 in grocery money saved, but it is something to be aware of.
    115. We save a lot of money just by checking 5 different websites. Ebates.com and Fatwallet.com (to get a rebate on any purchase. Fat wallet also lists bargain deals). Besides those, we check Graveyardmall.com, slickdeals.net and steepandcheap.com. I've found things like print out a $5 coupon to use on a $5 purchase at Sears. A BIG caveat though. Although there are lots of bargains on sites like these, the more you look at them the more things you find that you "need." You have to have the discipline to only purchase the things you really need or you'll end up wasting more money than you save.
    116. THINGS TO AVOID WHEN SHOPPING

    117. Make a list before going to the grocery store and eliminate shopping except for essentials. Browsing, going up and down extra aisles always results in extra purchases. Use a list and stick to it. Avoid store profit makers that are near the registers.
    118. In general, avoid extended warranties at places like Best Buy and car companies. Why do they offer them? Because they so rarely get used that the companies make huge profits on them. If they weren’t so profitable they wouldn’t be pushing them so hard. Plus, remember that many credit card companies will add a year or two to the manufacturers warranty if you purchase the item with their card anyway (check your credit card benefits). Purchasing an extended warranty could just be duplicating coverage that you already have.
    119. UTILITY/ENERGY MONEY SAVERS

    120. A lot of times people run the dishwasher at night when they’re asleep. If the noise isn’t too bad, consider changing your routine to running it during the day if it’s cold inside. There’s a small amount of heat generated that will help warm the house. Same thing with your washer and dryer. This will reduce the amount of gas/electricity you need to warm the house. Of course if you need it warmed more at night then try and run your appliances then.
    121. Don’t just blindly buy floodlights and lightbulbs because they’re the cheapest ones, compare the lifespan vs. cost before purchasing them.
    122. Replace your showerheads with a low flow showerhead. I like “The Head.” It has a nice spray pattern with plenty of pressure, but only uses YYY gallons of water per minute. This saves dollars on water usage.
    123. Want something even cheaper than using a phone card for a long distance service? Drop your phone service entirely and run your phone through your computer. VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services let you connect your phone lines to your computer. Costs start at around $20. If your regular phone bill was $120/month and you switched to VOIP, you’d save $1,200/year!
    124. Do you have to have a cell phone? You don’t need to talk all day long while you’re driving unless you’re modifying business appointments. Save the cell phone for emergencies and go with the cheapest rate plan available. One of the cheapest plans is a Tracfone. You can buy a Trac phone with 300 minutes for $140 that has a one-year period. If you need additional minutes you can purchase them for ten cents a minute and there are no additional taxes or fees. $140/year is only $11.67/month. Standard cell phone companies have plans starting at $19.95/month, but then they heap on about $7.72 of taxes bringing you up to $27.67month. Your savings with a Tracfone – nearly $200 per year!
    125. Check your water heater. Modern ones have a good layer of insulation between the inner and outer metal walls. Test yours. If the side feels hot, it’s not well insulated. You can get a water heater jacket for it at home centers for under $10.
    126. Is your water heater near the end of its life? Start looking for a sale on instant tankless water heaters. These models don’t store water and keep it heated all the time, but instantly heat it as it’s needed. The higher up-front cost pays for itself through lower utility costs over time.
    127. Switch to a front loading clothes washer when your washer is at or near the end of its life. A front loading washer uses only half the water of a top loading washer and only 25-75% of the washing detergent that a top loading washer uses. Plus many delicate items that normally would have to be taken to a dry cleaner can be washed in a front loader since it doesn’t have a damaging agitator. You save on water, detergent, and dry cleaning bills. But wait, there’s more. Since the front loader is gentler on your clothes, your clothes last longer, so you save money on clothing too! Further, don’t wait for it to die, but instead sell it when it’s near the end of its life. That way you can still get some money out of it.
    128. Most fireplaces remove more heat than they add. There’s a romantic notion that lighting a fire will warm the house and reduce heating costs. Unfortunately, the majority of fireplaces are open to the room. Although an open fireplace looks great aesthetically, this type of design causes warm air to be sucked out of the house. Your utility dollars are going right up the chimney! To combat this, there are two things you can do to make your fireplace work for you instead of against you. The first is to add glass doors, creating a seal between the room air and the chimney. Typically this won’t be an airtight seal, but it will be close enough so that it will cut down on the direct loss of warm air. Meanwhile, the heat from the fireplace will warm the glass and surrounding masonry and help warm the room through conduction. Glass doors are fairly inexpensive (I’ve seen them priced from $20-200) and easy to install. A more effective means of improving your fireplace is to add a heatilator. A heatilator is a tube and grate (basically a radiator/heat exchanger design) that takes cold room air and circulates in through the fireplace before heating it up and returning it to the room. Heatilators are designed to be used in addition to glass doors, so that none of the room air can be sucked up the chimney. The room air that is drawn through the fireplace follows a series of tubes and is only heated through conduction, since the tubes separate the air from the fireplace before returning it to the room. Many heatilators have an electric fan which enables them to increase the amount of air that is pulled in and warmed.
    129. Does the first person in the house get up and open up all the blinds and drapes? If there will be people who are using the room and can benefit from the extra light coming in or the view great. But what if you open them up and head out to work or back to an office? Those closed blinds and drapes provide a small barrier, keeping the house cooler in the summer and keeping the house warmer in the winter, reducing your utility bills. Opening them unnecessarily will increase your utility bills. Note: for windows that allow direct sunlight (direct solar gain) in the winter, open them up as soon as possible as these types of windows will add to the homes warmth and reduce utility bills.
    130. When using electric stoves and ovens, you can turn them off a few minutes before your item is done cooking. The heat will continue for several minutes after the power is turned off. You can also do this with gas ovens.
    131. Stop throwing money away on disposable A/C filters. Instead of replacing your filter every six months, just buy an electrostatic filter. These can be reused (just hose them off) so after a one-time purchase, you never have to buy another filter.
    132. For free long distance directory service (and sometimes free long distance calling), dial 1-800-FREE-411. They can provide free directory service, and free long distance during periods of low calling volume through business subsidies. If you use they’re yellow pages, you’ll hear a short commercial if there’s a member business in the category you’re looking up. But there’s no commercials at all for residential information and connections.
    133. Sometimes when you sit down to eat in the kitchen during the winter it feels colder than the rest of the house. This usually occurs because you're in a room with a cold tile floor and you've sat down and have stopped moving. So many people turn up the heat. This wastes money heating the whole house instead of just the small dining area that you're occupying. Instead, try just using a small electric space heater. You can just turn that on in the dining room instead of heating the whole house.
    134. THINGS NOT TO DO TO SAVE

    135. Stop buying new cars. The average new car depreciates 38% in the first year.
    136. Stop keeping up with the Joneses. We don’t think of it that way, but what about your coworkers/friends? Just because they have to have a big screen/flat panel RV, MP3 player, surround sound, etc doesn’t mean you do. Your TV and music system worked fine before, didn’t they?
    137. Don’t buy a boat. Analyze the boat purchase costs, maintenance, storage, insurance, etc. Compare that to renting and you’ll most likely come out far ahead. Ask people that are planning on buying a boat how often they think they’ll use it. Typically they’ll say twice a week. Ask them again a year after they have it how often they use it? For most people it’s no more than a half dozen times a year. I know one person who said he would be using his boat three times a week, but by the second year he had only used it three times all summer!
    138. SPLISH, SPLASH: Don’t have a pool installed. Analyze the costs (typically $15,000 installation, $5,000 of interest charges on a loan, and $2,000/year for maintenance and pool toys). We’ll say the five-year cost is $30,000 for a five year period. You would get about $5,000 back for increased value of your home, leaving $25,000 final cost. Now, what could you do for $25,000 for five years? You could hire a limo to take you to the local community pool ($300 trip) 8 times a year for 5 years (total $12,000) and still have $13,000 left over, which would let you fly to Hawaii and swim there.
    139. PETS

    140. HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGY IN THE WINDOW? Instead of looking in classified ads and pet magazines for pure bred dogs, check pet adoption/rescue agencies. These sources offer great dogs for a fraction of the price that they would go for on the normal retail market. There are dozens of pet adoption agencies on the internet and nearly all of them have a description and photo of every dog they have available.
    141. BOOKS, MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS

      COMPUTER

    142. Don’t pay full price for printer cartridges. These $30-40 profit makers often cost as much or more than a brand new printer. You can but recycled cartridges for 50-70% the cost of new ones through eBay or local printer cartridge recycling stores.
    143. A lot of home printing is just copies of things for records (as opposed to business reports that have to be really nice). To save money on printing costs, consider:
      1. Print on the back sides of used papers
      2. Use the 'High Speed' setting on your printer options.
      3. Use the 'Print Black Only' setting on your printer options.
    144. Many cash register receipts are printed are thermal paper that fades out to nothing over the course of a few months. For big ticket items (washer, computer, refrigerator, etc) that have long warranties, make copies of these receipts with your scanner. Once you do this you can print out a copy on a regular sheet of paper. That way you'll have a permanent copy that won't fade. Frankly, many stores are counting on these receipts to fade out to reduce their number of returns. Don't let them get the satisfaction.
    145. KIDS

    146. A tale of two families. Family A earns $125K a year and Family B earns $75K per year. Family A sends their kids to tutors and all sorts of camps, keeps them dressed in the latest fashions, buys a big house and puts in a pool and buys a boat. The kids invite lots of other kids over to swim in the pool and ride on the boat. The kids excel in school and become very popular at the school and are elected class president. Because the family has spent so much money on the house, pool, boat and kids the family has zero left over to save and thus has nothing saved for the kids college. Meanwhile, Family B lives very frugily. Their kids wear older clothes, don't become as popular because they don't have a boat and pool. They achieve similar grades as Family A's kids although they don't get elected class president. But, because they have lived frugally Family B manages to save $100K for the children's college. When it comes time to apply for scholarships and financial aid guess which family gets it? If you guessed the one that earns $50K a year more you are correct. The morale of the story? Well, there is none. Obviously we all want to try and save money for our kid's colleges. This is mostly some food for thought. One thing you can do though: If you're old enough so that your kids won't be going to college until after you turn 59 1/2, save the money that you would have put into a college fund into a retirement account. Retirement accounts aren't counted towards college financial assets. But, you could use that money towards your kid's college or whatever as long as you're at least 59 1/2 when you withdraw it.
    147. BABIES

    148. Ask for samples and freebies from the nurses after you deliver. They usually have plenty of extras that they’ll be glad to give you, but only if you remember to ask.
    149. HEALTH

    150. 90% of the health care dollars you spend in your lifetime will be spent prolonging the last three days of your life. Is it worth it to you to drain $100,000 of your estate for three more days spent in a semi-coma? If so, more power to you. But if you’d rather pass your estate on to your spouse and family, sign a “no heroic measures” document limiting the amount of medical treatment you can receive.
    151. Sign up for FLSEDS or an H.S.A. – health medical expenses deduction. These programs let you take a tax deduction for the amount of money you set aside for health care or dependent care. So if you are in the 28% income tax bracket and you set aside $4,000/year for health and dependent care, your gross income would be reduced by $4,000 and you would pay 28% of $4,000 less in taxes (you’d save $1,120 per year). A key benefit to this program is you do not have to itemize (long form 1040) to benefit. The amount of funds you elect to set aside for health/dependent care is reduced from your gross pay so you can use this program even if you file a shorter form such as 1040EZ. For more information, go to www.FLSEDS.com
    152. Consider laser vision for your eyes and save a lifetime of costs on glasses and contacts. Ask your optometrist if this is right for you.
    153. Some hospitals are adding on charges of up to $10/day for TV viewing. Use the time to rest or read and save these fees.
    154. Pick up coins while walking or running. You’d be surprised how much money you can find just by looking down. Although I’ve found as much as $20 bills by scanning the ground while running, in most places I average ten cents/mile in cash plus a tool or other goodie for every ten miles or so (you’d be amazed how much stuff falls off of peoples cars!) Is ten cents a mile much? No, but if you run three to six miles a session for four days a week that’s nearly $100/year – enough to pay for your running shoes.
    155. Don’t join a health club. These clubs operate on an 80/20 rule. They sign up as many people as they can, knowing that 80% of them will stop coming after 30 days. And 80% of the remaining 20% will stop coming by the end of the first year. So for every 100 people they sign up, only 4 will still be coming by the end of the year. 96% of the people that signed up will have wasted much of their money. Instead of signing up, look for free 30-day trial passes in the newspaper and on their websites. Don’t just try one club, plan on trying at least three or four in a row. Then after 90 or 120 days, if you find you’re still going regularly consider joining. Have the clubs bid against each other for the best deal and/or the shortest time period. Try to get a 3 or 6-month deal instead of a year. If you find you can’t keep going, you won’t have lost a year’s worth of dues.
    156. Reduce your long-term medical expenses by keeping fit. Develop a lifestyle that maintains ideal weight and fitness levels. If you will actually use home exercise equipment, go ahead and buy it. Start with cheap garage sale models and establish a routine to see that you actually use it and that it doesn’t just become a clothing rack. Money spent to maintain and/or improve your fitness will more than pay for itself through reduced medical bills over time.
    157. Reduce your long-term medical expenses by quitting smoking. Spending money for smoking cessation classes and aids will pay for itself many times over through lower lifetime medical costs, cheaper insurance rates and money saved that would have been spent on cigarettes.
    158. To slash the cost of your prescription pills, ask your doctor to write your prescription for half as many pills but double the dosage. When you receive your pills from the pharmacy, just cut them in half (you can get a pill splitter from a drug store for only $3). How does this save you money? The primary cost factor at pharmacies is the number of pills, not the dosage. So reducing the number of pills while increasing the dosage can cut the cost by as much as half.
    159. HOUSE/MISCELLANEOUS

    160. Leave your shoes at the door of your house. Doing so will greatly reduce the wear on your floors, saving you future expenses on flooring. Bonus: also reduces the amount of time spent cleaning the floors.
    161. Empty dog food bags (25-55 pound size) make good trash bags for the yard, especially for branches that would easily tear through plastic trash bags.
    162. Inside dogs and cats cause long-term additional expenses as they destroy the floor, furniture, drapes etc. Keep your pets outside to reduce your bills.
    163. Encourage your children to use crayons, play-doe, paints, markers, chalk, etc outside or at school. This will reduce long-term expenses on floors and walls.
    164. Get rid of paper napkins and use cloth napkins at your dinner table. We bought 4 different colored wash clothes, so when our family of four sits down to eat we each have our own color. Purchasing a couple sets allows us to use one while another is in the wash. Now we no longer have to purchase paper napkins.
    165. Duct tape can save you money by:
      1. Repairing hose leaks.
      2. Cures warts (just put the tape over them for a couple days)
      3. Use on blisters to prevent chafing.
    166. Going through your attic and insulating it or putting down some flooring for extra space? Most older homes will have lots of pieces of old wood shingles laying around in the attic. Instead of just throwing these out, save them for firewood.
    167. Have a plumbing slow drip? Consider just putting a little bowl under it and waiting until the next problem occurs before calling a plumber. Most companies have a minimum service charge. Instead of paying this twice, wait until you can combine multiple repairs in one visit. Do the same thing with electrical or other repairs.
    168. Free firewood – furniture being thrown out. Look for pieces of solid wood that are unfinished so they don’t give off fumes.
    169. Free firewood – are you having bricks, lawn squares, etc delivered to your house on pallets? I used to let the pallets gather dust in the back yard, then I realized they make great firewood.
    170. Stop paying for calendars and daytimers. They give these away for free at banks, credit unions, and insurance companies.
    171. Don’t order replacement power cubes ($10-20) for electronic devices. Instead, get a multi-volt adapter at Radio Shack. Even better, you can pick up used power cubes at garage sales for 25 – 50 cents.
    172. Think twice before getting scissors resharpened. You can a new pair at the 99 cents store for 99 cents. Resharpening could be about $6.
    173. Designing your new home? Consider making it fireproof and foregoing fire insurance. Tile or stamped, colored concrete for flooring; tile roofs, walls with steel/aluminum framing and a fire protection zone around the house make a home virtually fireproof. While a spot fire could always develop in a single area (grease fire on the stove for example), designing a home with noncombustible materials prevents fires from spreading. Some people have designed their homes like this and have been able to forego fire insurance entirely.
    174. Design your next house with passive cooling and heating so you can vastly reduce or eliminate AC/heating systems and their associated utility bills. A little extra money spent upfront will pay for itself many times over (see my book 101 Ways to Design or Remodel a Great House for my ideas).
    175. If you live in a termite area (about 90% of the country) install Spectracide termite stakes. These will greatly reduce your chances of getting a termite infestation. An $80 investment in termite stakes could prevent an $8,000 termite repair job.
    176. Small adults can buy kids clothes cheaper than adult clothes.
    177. Every year in January go through every file in your file cabinet, every check register, and every credit card statement. This is your chance to spring clean and toss unneeded items, but while you’re at it, set aside every item that has possible tax deduction applicability. That way you won’t miss anything. To make this task easier for the next time around, throughout the year, as you write each check or receive a credit card statement, put a red star next to any potentially tax deductible items.
    178. Rechargable batteries save you a lot of money in the long run. The latest generation of rechargables last nearly as long as alkaline batteries do.
    179. Do you have to have that fancy new digital camera? I know someone who paid $2,000 for a digital camera with a slightly longer zoom than the one on the model he already owned just so he could shoot photos of his daughter in a sports tournament. If you truly need a new camera and will be using it every week, great. In not, why not just find one of the many sports photographers hanging around the tournament and offer them $100-200 to take photos of your son or daughter in between their other shots. A) They’ve got topnotch equipment (their camera could well be $5000 or more) and B) They shoot photos for a living so you know they’ll take good shots. Just have them mail you the negatives or send you the jpegs on a disc.
    180. Don’t throw out good batteries. Pick up a battery tester at Radio Shack for a few dollars and test all your batteries before throwing any away.
    181. Don’t throw money away on pest control services. Companies typically charge $30-60/month to treat your house. You can buy a 1-gallon spray bottle of Bug Stop at Lowes or Home Depot for less than $10 bucks. I find a gallon bottle is good for about 3 treatments. They say they’ll last up to 90 days, and I probably retreat every 60 days on average. My total cost is about $20/year. Compare this to an average $35 monthly fee, and you’ll save $400/year, or $2,000 over a five-year period.
    182. Learn when your favorite stores annual sales are and stock up then. For Warehouse Pool Supply, I’ve learned that usually on Labor Day weekend and the last two weeks of the year they always give you $15 off your order for each $100 you spend. If you stock up on Chlorine and shock at these times of year you can lower your overall pool chemical costs.
    183. Instead of buying desk organizers, just wash out kid’s Lunchmaker trays. These food organizers are the ideal size for sorting paper clips, stamps etc.
    184. Don’t throw away cans of paint spray with clogged nozzles. Pull the nozzle off and soak it in paint thinner. It should clean it up enough to use again. Also, try saving nozzles from empty cans. You can reuse them on clogged cans.
    185. Need magazine storage cases but don’t want to pay $2-10 each for them? You can make your own for free by taking cereal boxes and cutting the tops off. Cut 8” down one side so you’ll be able to slip the magazines in and out.
    186. Hate throwing away good BBQ briquettes buried in the ashes of your BBQ? Place some wire mesh (like chicken wire) on the ash plate so that it sits under the coals. The next time you’re done barbequing and the coals are cold, carry the foil to a trashcan. (If you don’t have a metal ash plate to catch the ashes, line the bottom of the BBQ with a few sheets of heavy-duty foil). Remove the ash plate and let the ashes fall through. The good coals will be caught in the wire mesh. Shake it up to remove the ashes stuck to the sides of the good briquettes. Line the bottom of the BBQ with some new foil and put the wire mesh with the saved coals back in. Add additional new briquettes as needed and you’ll be ready to go for next time. Wearing gloves will reduce hand-washing time after you’re done.
    187. You can create free picture frames by using old CD cases. Just remove the CD liner materials, slip in one or more photos and open the case up. The case will stand upright and display your photos.
    188. Are you borderline of being able to itemize on your taxes? For many of us it's just too hard to come up with $10,000+ of deductions in order to be able to itemize. You've probably heard of the strategy of paying your property taxes every other year to increase the amount of deductions you have and at least be able to itemize on odd years. But even this may not be enough. You can take this strategy even farther though with your charitably contributions. Simply double up on your cash and noncash donations on the years you itemize and skip these donations on the other years. That way you'll have much more to itemize and you'll get a bigger tax refund.
    189. Most people don't want to budget (including me!). But besides the usual benefits associated with budgeting here's an additional motivator most people don't think about. For our budget, every day when we make a purchase my wife Debbie and I mark it down under the budget column (groceries, household, entertainment, etc). We don't use anything fancy, just an ordinary sheet of white paper. But the thing is if you make a purchase the you have to own up to it and mark it down. This in itself is a motivator to hold back and save money. Another aspect is that I feel a budget is primarily a delayer. If you want a new whatever, the purchase is just pushed back a few weeks or months until its time comes up. This too saves money as A) It lets you have a cooling off period when perhaps you realize you didn't really need that thing after all; and B) the longer you wait the more prices fall on most things.
    190. Another budget trick we use is to "beat the figure." It's not so much that we set a goal of only spending $YYY on a category, it's that our goal becomes to spend less than we spent the previous month on that category. So for instance if you spend $600 on groceries per month (or maybe you have a budget of $600 per groceries and you're disciplined to not go over that per month), then the goal becomes to chop this down the following month by at least $1. And if you happen to cut it down to $585, then the following month you shoot for $584. While this can't go on forever, you will definately make some good progress using this method. Now, the above being said, many budget categories go up and down as you deal with unusual spikes for repairs, sales, etc. In those cases you can work on a rolling three month average to keep spending down.
    191. The part that fails more often than any others on refrigerators (and possibly on home appliances in general) is the in-door ice maker / water dispenser. I know people that have this item repaired every year or two like clockwork. So what can you do to avoid these costly repairs? Simple, just buy a refrigerator that doesn't have an in-door dispenser and heavens forbid, just get water from a container in the fridge!
    192. Consider having a weekly family meeting with two topics:
      1. How can we cut expenses; and
      2. How can we bring in more income.
      Just make this a brain storming session you have on a weekly basis.
    193. Buying or selling a home? Before you sign up with first person you meet, consider that some realtors will pay you to use them! Ziprealty will pay you 20% of their commission and Smartmove will pay you 1/2 of 1% of the home's closing cost.
    194. I almost never buy myself soap or shampoo. Instead I just (gasp) save the samples I get from motels and use them up.


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