66 Ways to Save Money

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Airline Fares

1. You can lower the price of a roundtrip air fare by as much as

two-thirds by making certain your trip includes a Saturday

evening stayover, and by purchasing the ticket in advance.

2. To make certain you have a cheap fare, even if you use a

travel agent, call all the airlines that fly where you want to go

and ask what the lowest fare to your destination is.

3. Keep an eye out for fare wars. Be prepared to act quickly.

Car Rental

1. Since car rental rates can vary greatly, shop around for the

best basic rates and special offers.

2. Rental car companies offer various insurance and waiver

options. Check with your insurance agent and credit card company

in advance to avoid duplicating any coverage you may already


New Cars

1. You can save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a car

by selecting a model that combines a low purchase price with low

financing, insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs.

Ask your local librarian for new car guides that contain this


2. Having selected a model, you can save hundreds of dollars by

comparison shopping. Call at least five dealers for price quotes

and let each know that you are calling others.

3. Remember there is no "cooling off" period on new car sales.

Once you have signed a contract, you are obligated to buy the


Used Cars

1. Before buying any used car:

a. Compare the seller's asking price with the average retail

price in a "bluebook" or other guide to car prices found at

many libraries, banks, and credit unions.

b. Have a mechanic you trust check the car, especially if

the car is sold "as is."

2. Consider purchasing a used car from an individual you know and

trust. They are more likely than other sellers to charge a lower

price and point out any problems with the car.

Auto Leasing

1. Don't decide to lease a car just because the payments are

lower than on a traditional auto loan. The leasing payments may

be lower because you don't own the car at the end of the lease.

2. Leasing a car is very complicated. When shopping, consider

the price of the car (known as the capitalized cost), your trade-

in allowance, any down payment, monthly payments, various fees

(excess mileage, excess "wear and tear," end-of-lease), and the

cost of buying the car at the end of the lease.


1. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by pumping gas

yourself and using the lowest-octane called for in your owner's


2. You can save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping your engine

tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure.

Car Repairs

1. Consumers lose billions of dollars each year on unneeded or

poorly done car repairs. The most important step that you can

take to save money on these repairs is to find a skilled, honest

mechanic. Before you need repairs, look for a mechanic who:

* is certified and well established;

* has done good work for someone you know; and

* communicates well about repair options and costs.


Auto Insurance

1. You can save several hundred dollars a year by purchasing auto

insurance from a licensed, low-price insurer. Call your state

insurance department for a publication showing typical prices

charged by different companies. Then call at least four of the

lowest-priced, licensed insurers to learn what they would charge

you for the same coverage.

2. Talk to your agent or insurer about raising your deductibles

on collision and comprehensive coverages to at least $500 or, if

you have an old car, dropping these coverages altogether.

Taking these steps can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

3. Make certain that your new policy is in effect before dropping

your old one.

Homeowner Insurance

1. You can save $100 or more a year by purchasing homeowner

insurance from a low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your state

insurance department for a publication showing typical prices

charged by different licensed companies. Then call at least four

of the lowest priced insurers to learn what they would charge

you. If such a publication is not available, it is even more

important to call at least four insurers for price quotes.

2. Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace the house

and its contents.

3. Make certain your new policy is in effect before dropping your

old one.

Life Insurance

1. If you want insurance protection only, buy a term life

insurance policy.

2. If you want to buy a whole life, universal life, or other cash

value policy, plan to hold it for at least 15 years. Cancelling

these policies after only a few years can more than double your

life insurance costs.

3. Check your public library for information about the financial

soundness of insurance companies and the prices they charge. The

July, August, and September 1993 issues of Consumer Reports are a

valuable source of information about a number of insurers.



1. You can save more than $100 a year in fees by selecting a

checking account with a minimum balance requirement that you can,

and do, meet.

2. Banking institutions often will drop or lower checking fees if

paychecks are directly deposited by your employer. Direct

deposit offers the additional advantages of convenience,

security, and immediate access to your money.

Savings and Investment Products

1. Before opening a savings or investment account with a bank or

other financial institution, find out whether the account is

insured by the federal government. An increasing number of

products offered by these institutions, including mutual stock

funds and annuities, are not insured.

2. To earn the highest return on savings (annual percentage

yield) with little or no risk, consider certificates of deposit

(CDs) and treasury bills or notes.

3. Once you select a type of savings or investment product,

compare rates offered by different institutions. These rates can

vary a lot and, over time, can significantly affect interest


Credit Cards

1. You can save as much as several hundred dollars each year in

lower credit card interest charges by paying off your entire bill

each month.

2. If you are unable to pay off a large balance, switch to a

credit card with a low annual percentage rate (APR). For a

modest fee, Bankcard Holders of America (703-389-5445) and RAM

Research Corp. (800-344-7714) will send you a list of low-rate


3. You can reduce credit card fees, which may add up to more than

$100 a year, by getting rid of all but one or two cards, and by

avoiding late payment and over-the-credit limit fees.

Auto Loans

1. If you have significant savings earning a low interest rate,

consider making a large down payment or even paying for the car

in cash. This could save you as much as several thousand dollars

in finance charges.

2. You can save as much as hundreds of dollars in finance charges

by shopping for the cheapest loan. Contact several banks, your

credit union, and the auto manufacturer's own finance company.

First Mortgage Loans

1. You may save tens of thousands of dollars in interest charges

by shopping for the shortest-term mortgage you can afford. On a

$100,000 fixed-rate loan at 8% annual percentage rate (APR), for

example, you will pay $90,000 less in interest on a 15-year

mortgage than on a 30-year mortgage.

2. You can save thousands of dollars in interest charges by

shopping for the lowest-rate mortgage with the fewest points. On

a 15-year, $100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, just lowering the APR

from 8.5% to 8.0% can save you more than $5,000 in interest

charges. On this mortgage, paying two points instead of three

would save you an additional $1,000.

3. If your local newspaper does not periodically run mortgage

rate surveys, call at least six lenders for information about

their rates (APRs), points, and fees. Then ask an accountant to

compute precisely how much each mortgage option will cost and its

tax implications.

4. Be aware that the interest rate on most adjustable rate

mortgage loans (ARMs) can vary a great deal over the lifetime of

the mortgage. An increase of several percentage points might

raise payments by hundreds of dollars per month.

Mortgage Refinancing

1. Consider refinancing your mortgage if you can get a rate that

is at least one percentage point lower than your existing

mortgage rate and plan to keep the new mortgage for several years

or more. Ask an accountant to calculate precisely how much your

new mortgage (including upfront fees) will cost and whether, in

the long run, it will cost less than your current mortgage.

Home Equity Loans

1. Be cautious in taking out home equity loans. These loans

reduce the equity that you have built up in your home. If you

are unable to make payments, you could lose your home.

2. Compare home equity loans offered by at least four banking

institutions. In comparing these loans, consider not only the

annual percentage rate (APR) but also points, closing costs,

other fees, and the index for any variable rate changes.


Home Purchase

1. You can often negotiate a lower sale price by employing a

buyer broker who works for you, not the seller. If the buyer

broker or the broker's firm also lists properties, there may be a

conflict of interest, so ask them to tell you if they are showing

you a property that they have listed.

2. Do not purchase any house until it has been examined by a home

inspector that you selected.

Renting a Place to Live

1. Do not limit your rental housing search to classified ads or

referrals from friends and acquaintances. Select buildings where

you would like to live and contact their building manager or

owner to see if anything is available.

2. Remember that signing a lease probably obligates you to make

all monthly payments for the term of the agreement.

Home Improvement

1. Home repairs often cost thousands of dollars and are the

subject of frequent complaints. Select from among several well

established, licensed contractors who have submitted written,

fixed-price bids for the work.

2. Do not sign any contract that requires full payment before

satisfactory completion of the work.

Major Appliances

1. Consult Consumer Reports, available in most public libraries,

for information about specific brands and how to evaluate them,

including energy use. There are often great price and quality

differences among brands.

2. Once you've selected a brand, check the phone book to learn

what stores carry this brand, then call at least four of these

stores for the prices of specific models. After each store has

given you a quote, ask if that's the lowest price they can offer

you. This comparison shopping can save you as much as $100 or




1. To save as much as hundreds of dollars a year on electricity,

make certain that any new appliances you purchase, especially air

conditioners and furnaces, are energy-efficient. Information on

the energy efficiency of major appliances is found on Energy

Guide Labels required by federal law. Check with your electric

utility to learn if it has a program to help reduce the costs of

any appliance purchases.

2. Enrolling in load management programs and off-hour rate

programs offered by your electric utility may save you up to $100

a year in electricity costs. Call your electric utility for

information about these cost-saving programs.

Home Heating

1. A home energy audit can identify ways to save up to hundreds

of dollars a year on home heating (and air conditioning). Ask

your electric or gas utility if they can do this audit for free

or for a reasonable charge. If they cannot, ask them to refer

you to a qualified professional.

Local Telephone Service

1. Check with your phone company to see whether a flat rate or

measured service plan will save you the most money.

2. You will usually save money by buying your phones instead of

leasing them.

3. Check your local phone bill to see if you have optional

services that you don't really need or use. Each option you drop

could save you $40 or more each year.

Long Distance Telephone Service

1. Long distance calls made during evenings, at night, or on

weekends can cost significantly less than weekday calls.

2. If you make more than a few long distance calls each month,

consider subscribing to a calling plan. Call several long

distance companies to see which one has the least expensive plan

for the calls you make.

3. Whenever possible, dial your long distance calls directly.

Using the operator to complete a call can cost you an extra $1 to



North Coast Financial

Food Purchased at Markets

1. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by shopping at the

lower-priced food stores. Convenience stores often charge the

highest prices.

2. You will spend less on food if you shop with a list.

3. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing price-

per-ounce or other unit prices on shelf labels. Stock up on

those items with low per-unit costs.

Prescription Drugs

1. Since brand name drugs are usually much more expensive than

their generic equivalents, ask your physician and pharmacist for

generic drugs whenever appropriate.

2. Since pharmacies may charge widely different prices for the

same medicine, call several. When taking a drug for a long time,

also consider calling mail-order pharmacies, which often charge

lower prices. See the October 1993 issue of Consumer Reports

(available in most public libraries) for a list of several of

these pharmacies and their toll-free phone numbers.

Funeral Arrangements

1. Make your wishes known about your funeral, memorial, or burial

arrangements in writing. Be cautious about prepaying because

there may be risks involved.

2. For information about the least costly options, which could

save you several thousand dollars, contact a local memorial

society, which is usually listed in the Yellow Pages under

funeral services.

3. Before selecting a funeral home, call several and ask for

prices of specific goods and services, or visit them to obtain an

itemized price list. You are entitled to this information by law

and, by using it to comparison shop, you can save hundreds of


The Consumer Literacy Consortium is a working group of

representatives from federal and state government agencies,

consumer groups, business organizations, and educational

institutions that seeks to develop and disseminate essential

messages to inform and educate consumers. Membership in the

Consortium does not imply endorsement of all of its messages or

the products and services of other members.

Cooperative Extension System

Federal Trade Commission

Federal Reserve Board

Minnesota Attorney General's Office

National Association of Consumer Agency


U.S. Consumer Information Center

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs

American Council on Consumer Interests

American Association of Retired Persons

Center for the Study of Services - Checkbook Magazine

Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

National Coalition for Consumer Education

National Institute for Consumer Education

TARP, Inc.

Alamo Rent A Car, Inc.

American Insurance Association

Direct Selling Education Foundation

MCI Consumer Markets

NYNEX Corporation


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