66 Ways to Save Money

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For most kinds of purchases, you can get valu-
able advice and comparisons on the Internet.
Ask a librarian or friends which Internet sites
they think are helpful, or you can use a search
engine like Google or Yahoo. Be aware that informa-
tion you find is often biased. At many websites, the
only products or sellers listed are ones that pay to
advertise. Before buying anything on the Internet,
check several websites and make sure you deal with
reputable dealers.
Airline Fares
Compare low-cost carriers with major carriers
that fly to your destination. Remember, the best
fares may not be out of the airport closest to you.
2. You may save by including a Saturday evening
stay-over or by purchasing the ticket at least 14
days in advance. Ask which days of the week
and times of the day have the lowest fare.
3. Even if you are using a travel agent, check airline
and Internet travel sites, and look for special
deals. If you call, always ask for the lowest fare
to your destination.
Car Rental
Since car rental rates can vary greatly, compare
total price (including taxes and surcharge) and
take advantage of any special offers and member-
ship discounts.
5. Rental car companies offer various insurance and
waiver options. Check with your automobile
insurance agent and credit card company in
advance to avoid duplicating any coverage you
may already have.
New Cars
You can save thousands of dollars over the life-
time of a car by selecting a model that combines
a low purchase price with low depreciation,
financing, insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and
repair costs. Ask your local librarian for new car
guides that contain this information.

7. Having selected a model and options you are
interested in, you can save hundreds of dollars by
comparison shopping. Get price quotes from sev-
eral dealers (over the phone or Internet) and let
each know you are contacting the others.
8. Remember there is no “cooling off” period on
new car sales. Once you have signed a contract,
you are obligated to buy the car.
Used Cars
Before buying any used car:
• Compare the seller’s asking price with the
average retail price in a “bluebook” or other
guide to car prices which can be found at
many libraries, banks, and credit unions.
• Have a mechanic you trust check the car,
especially if the car is sold “as is.”
10. Consider purchasing a used car from an individ-
ual 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
Don’t decide to lease a car just because the pay-
ments are lower than on a traditional auto loan.
The leasing payments are lower because you
don’t actually own the car.
12. Leasing a car is very complicated. When shop-
ping, 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. A valuable source of information
about auto leasing can be found in Keys to
Vehicle Leasing: A Consumer Guide, which is
published by the Federal Reserve Board and
Federal Trade Commission.
You can save hundreds of dollars a year by
comparing prices at different stations, pumping
gas yourself, and using the lowest-octane called
for in your owner’s manual.
14. You can save up to $100 a year on gas by keep-
ing your engine tuned and your tires inflated to
their proper pressure.

Car Repairs
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;
• communicates well about repair options and
Auto Insurance
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.
17. Talk to your agent or insurer about raising your
deductibles on collision and comprehensive cov-
erage to at least $500 or, if you have an old car,
dropping this coverage altogether. This can save
you hundreds of dollars on insurance premiums.
18. Make certain that your new policy is in effect
before dropping your old one.
Homeowner/Renter Insurance
You can save several hundred dollars a year on
homeowner insurance and up to $50 a year on
renter insurance by purchasing insurance from a
low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your state insur-
ance 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 impor-
tant to call at least four insurers for price quotes.

20. Make certain you purchase enough coverage to
replace the house and its contents.
“Replacement” on the house means rebuilding
to its current condition.
21. Make certain your new policy is in effect before
dropping your old one.
Life Insurance
If you want insurance protection only, and not a
savings and investment product, buy a term life
insurance policy.
23. If you want to buy a whole life, universal life,
or other cash value policy, plan to hold it for at
least 15 years. Canceling these policies after
only a few years can more than double your life
insurance costs.
24. Check the National Association of Insurance
Commissioners website (www.naic.org/cis ) or
your local library for information on the finan-
cial soundness of insurance companies.
Checking Accounts and Debit Cards
You can save more than $100 a year in fees by
selecting a free checking account or one with no
minimum balance requirement. Request a com-
plete list of fees that are charged on these
accounts, including ATM and debit card fees.
26. See if you can get free or lower cost checking
through direct deposit or agreeing to ATM only
use. Be aware of charges for using an ATM not
associated with your financial institution.
Savings Products
Before opening a savings account, find out
whether the account is insured by the federal
government (FDIC for banks or NCUA for
credit unions). Financial institutions offer a
number of products, such as mutual funds and
annuities, which are not insured.

28. Once you select a type of savings account, use
the telephone, newspaper, and Internet to com-
pare rates and fees offered by different financial
institutions, including those outside your city.
These rates can vary a lot and, over time, can
significantly affect interest earnings.
29. To earn the highest return on savings (annual
percentage yield) with little or no risk, consider
certificates of deposit (CDs) or U.S. Savings
Bonds (Series I or EE).
Credit Cards
To avoid late payment fees and possible interest
rate increases on your credit cards, make sure
you send in your payment a week to ten days
before the statement due date. Late payments on
one card can increase fees and interest rates on
other cards.
31. You can avoid interest charges, which may be
considerable, by paying off your entire bill each
month. If you are unable to pay off a large bal-
ance, pay as much as you can. Try to shift the
remaining balance to a credit card with a lower
annual percentage rate (APR). You can find list-
ings of credit card plans, rates, and terms on the
Internet, in personal finance magazines, and in
32. Be aware that credit cards with rebates, cash
back, travel awards, or other perks may carry
higher rates or fees.
Auto Loans
To save as much as several thousand dollars in
finance charges, pay for the car in cash or make a
large down payment. Always get the shortest term
loan possible as this will lower your interest rate.
34. Make certain to get a rate quote (or pre-
approved loan) from your bank or credit union
before seeking dealer financing. You can save
as much as $1000 in finance charges by shop-
ping for the cheapest loan.
35. Make certain to consider the dollar difference
between low-rate financing and a lower sale
price. Remember that getting zero or low-rate
financing from a dealer may prevent you from
getting the rebate.

First Mortgage Loans
Although your monthly payment may be higher,
you can save tens of thousands of dollars in
interest charges by shopping for the shortest-
term mortgage you can afford. For each
$100,000 you borrow at a 7% annual percentage
rate (APR), for example, you will pay over
$75,000 less in interest on a 15-year fixed rate
mortgage than you would on a 30-year fixed
rate mortgage.
37. You can save thousands of dollars in interest
charges by shopping for the lowest-rate mort-
gage with the fewest points. On a 15-year
$100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, just lowering the
APR from 7% to 6.5% can save you more than
$5,000 in interest charges over the life of the
loan, and paying two points instead of three
would save you an additional $1,000.
38. Check the Internet or your local newspaper for
mortgage rate surveys, then call several lenders
for information about their rates (APRs), points,
and fees. If you choose a mortgage broker,
make certain to compare their offers with those
of direct lenders.
39. Be aware that the interest rate on most adjustable
rate mortgages (ARMs) can vary a great deal over
the lifetime of the loan. An increase of several
percentage points might raise payments by hun-
dreds of dollars a month, so ask the lender what
the highest possible monthly payment might be.
Mortgage Refinancing
Consider refinancing your mortgage if you can get
a rate that is lower than your existing mortgage rate
and plan to keep the new mortgage for at least sev-
eral years. Calculate precisely how much your new
mortgage (including points, fees and closing costs)
will cost and whether, in the long run, it will cost
less than your current mortgage.
Home Equity Loans
Be cautious in taking out home equity loans.
The loans reduce or may even eliminate the
equity that you have built up in your home.
(Equity is the cash you would have if you sold
your house and paid off your mortgage loans.)
If you are unable to make payments on home
equity loans, you could lose your home.

42. Compare home equity loans offered by at least
four reputable lending institutions. Consider the
interest rate on the loan and the annual percent-
age rate (APR), which includes other costs, such
as origination fees, discount points, mortgage
insurance, and other fees. Ask if the rate
changes, and if so, how it is calculated and how
frequently, as this will affect the amount of your
monthly payments.
Home Purchase
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.
44. Do not purchase any house until it has been
examined by a home inspector that you selected.
Renting a Place to Live
Do not limit your rental housing search to clas-
sified ads or referrals from friends and acquain-
tances. Select buildings where you would like to
live and contact their building manager or
owner to see if anything is available.
46. Remember that signing a lease probably obli-
gates you to make all monthly payments for the
term of the agreement.
Home Improvement
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 writ-
ten, fixed-price bids for the work.
48. Do not sign any contract that requires full payment
before satisfactory completion of the work.

Major Appliances
Consult Consumer Reports, available in most
public libraries, for information about specific
appliance brands and models and how to
evaluate them, including energy use.
There are often great price and quality
differences. Look for the yellow Energy Guide
label on products, and especially for products
that have earned the government’s ENERGY
STAR, which can save up to 50% in energy use.
50. Once you’ve selected a specific brand and
model, check the Internet or yellow pages to
learn what stores carry the brand. Call at least
four of these stores to compare prices and ask if
that’s the lowest price they can offer you. This
comparison shopping can save you as much as
$100 or more.
Heating and Cooling
A home energy audit can identify ways to save
up to hundreds of dollars a year on home heat-
ing (and air conditioning). Ask your electric or
gas utility if they audit homes for free or for a
reasonable charge. If they do not, ask them to
refer you to a qualified professional.
52. Enrolling in load management programs and
off-hour rate programs offered by your electric
utility may save you up to $100 a year in elec-
tricity costs. Call your electric utility for infor-
mation about these cost-saving programs.
Telephone Service
Once a year, review your phone bills for the pre-
vious three months to see what local, local toll,
long distance, and international calls you nor-
mally make. Call several phone companies
which provide service in your area (including
wireless and cable), to find the cheapest calling
plan that meets your needs. Consider a bundled
package that offers local, local toll and long dis-
tance, and possibly other services, if you heavily
use all the services in the bundle.

54. Check your phone bill to see if you have option-
al calling features or additional services, such as
inside wire maintenance, that you don’t need.
Each option you drop could save you $40 or
more each year.
55. If you make very few toll or long distance calls,
avoid calling plans with monthly fees or mini-
mums. Or consider disconnecting the service alto-
gether and use dial around services such as 10-10
numbers or prepaid phone cards for your calls.
When shopping for dial around service, look for
fees, call minimum, and per minute rates. Treat
prepaid cards as cash and find out if there is an
expiration date.
56. If you use a cell phone, make sure your calling
plan matches the pattern of calls you typically
make. Understand peak calling periods, area cov-
erage, roaming, and termination charges. Contracts
offered by most carriers will provide you with a
trial period of 14 days or more. Use that time to
make sure the service provides coverage in all the
places you will be using the phone (home, work
etc.). Prepaid wireless plans tend to have higher
per minute rates and fees but may be a better
option if you use the phone only occasionally.
57. Before making calls when away from home,
compare per minute rates and surcharges for cell
phones, prepaid phone cards, and calling card
plans to find how to save the most money.
58. Dial your long distance calls directly. Using an
operator to place the call can cost you up to $10
extra. To save money on information calls, look
the number up on the Internet, or in the directory.
Food Purchased at Markets
You can save hundreds of dollars a year by
shopping at lower-priced food stores. Conven-
ience stores often charge the highest price.