Reporting Dee Lee
BOSTON (CBS) – I have pages of ideas on ways to save from our listeners. I am just going to highlight a few.
Grocery Shopping: Make it a family project and get the kids to clip the coupons.
Use a shopping list whenever you go shopping. Often people go shopping for recreation and for something to do and without a list or a plan they randomly buy stuff. Saving more should become a family project and it should involve the whole family.
Life Insurance: If you have had your policy for 10 years or more see what you can do to lower the costs. Term life insurance has actually gotten cheaper because the insurance companies discovered that we were living longer.
Phones: Talk and text less! Or get a plan that includes everything you want. Or combine cable, home phone and cell phone for lower costs. And check out the apps you thought you couldn’t live without. Do you need the GPS on your cell phone and in the car?
Bank Fees: ATM fees are the biggie here. Paying $3 to $6 to withdraw $50 is a lot of money. Actually it’s costing you 12%. There may be a fee for using your debit card. And if you are overdrawn on your checking account they ding you there also.
Credit Card Fees: If you can’t pay for something, don’t buy it! Charging it drags the payments out over years. And you could end paying twice what the purchase was worth.
- Drive sensibly
- Observe the speed limit, for every 5 miles above 60 it’s like paying an extra 26 cents a gallon.
- Use cruise control
- Remove excess weight like that 50 pound bag of dog food in the trunk. No junk in your trunk!
- Do not idle your car. Consider parking the car and going inside for your cup of coffee. If there are three cars in the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts’ park and go in for your order.
- Review your car insurance annually. Get quotes from several different companies and see how much you can save. Do you have towing through your Triple A membership and your insurance company? Are you paying for it twice? Can you bundle your auto and home insurance?
I have a membership and I was surprised at all of the benefits. Here are some:
- Discounts on hotel rooms (which I use all of the time)
- Discounts for entertainment events
- Discounts for movie tickets & theme parks
- Discounts on travel
- Discounts on prescriptions
- Discounts at restaurants
They also offer discounts on everything from hotel rooms to travel.
Know what benefits your employer offers. Here are some:
- Match for your 401(k) plan
- Reimbursement for gym fees or an in house gym
- Reimbursement for weight loss plans such as Weight Watchers
- Health care incentives e.g. gift certificates if you keep your blood pressure in normal range
- Graduate tuition
- Scholarships for your kids
Cable: One listener negotiates with his cable company every 6 months to lower his bill and he asks what specials they are currently offering. He got free movies for a year and now he has a lower rate because of a promotion. You do have to ask though, you want to speak to someone in customer retention.
Electronic Equipment: A listener wanted to purchase three flat screen TVs. When they went on sale he told the clerk he wanted to buy three and asked if he did could they offer him a better deal. They offered him an extra 10% off. You do have to ask and you have to be willing to walk away.
Cars: Use Edmunds to compare dealer prices for cars.
Books, CDs, DVDs: Use your local Library; a listener, a town librarian, showed me how much a family of four could save by taking advantage of the library’s free resources. Books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, story hours for the little ones.
Investments: If you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to investing look to Fidelity for cheap rates. Their online fees are about $8 a trade if you have at least $50,000 in assets. Also Schwab and Vanguard offer low costs. Can you get cheaper rates? Yup. But even as a do-it-yourselfer you may want the bells and whistles Fidelity has to offer.
Books: If you are not going to use the library and want to buy your books, try www.amazon.com. They also have used books. I was disappointed recently to see one of my books selling second hand for $4.
Laundry: Use cold water unless the clothes are very dirty. Wash only full loads of clothes. Your clothes will also get clean with less detergent. Clean the dryer lint screen after each load. Use a clothesline in the nice weather. Dry clothes indoors in the winter and add moisture to the air.
Carpool: Most cars in the morning rush hour have one occupant the driver. Even if you can only do it a couple of days a week it could save big time.
The warehouse club discount stores where you need to buy a membership have more than just the giant packages of paper towels.
- Funeral supplies, including caskets and urns
- Amusement park and movie tickets
- Diamond stud ear rings priced at about $3,000
- Health insurance
- Auto insurance
- Small business Loans
- Vacation and cruise packages
- Health Insurance
- Cheap gas
- A kid’s John Deere tractor (that my husband wants to buy)
More From Listeners:
- Avoid ATM fees by using your bank’s ATM’s or get cash back when you grocery shop
- Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees
- When running into a grocery store for a few items use the hand basket and not the cart. If you have the cart you will fill it!
- Do not grocery shop when hungry
- Move furniture off of heating and air return vents/registers
- Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
- Replace old appliances
- Clean refrigerator coils are least once a year
- Clean lint from the dryer ductwork at least once a year. This is lint in the ductwork not the lint trap/screen
- Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs
- Set water temperature on water heaters lower, around 120. Many dishwashers heat the water to a higher temperature for washing.
- Install new showerheads. Low-flow, which uses about half the water that a regular showerhead uses.
- Pack your lunches
- Cook dinners at home – forego take out.
- Movies – Get discount tickets from Triple A or go to matinees or wait to borrow the DVD from the library
- Insulate everywhere
AARP has a members section with a list of how they are saving.
Also the internet in general is a good place to shop. Check out Craig’s List as well it’s a virtual yard sale. You have to pick up the stuff but we have found good deals on baby furniture and toys. Kids out grow that stuff so quickly!
Discounts: If you belong to a professional organization or a discount club, if you support public radio or TV, or if you’ve reached a certain age, you may be entitled to a discount.
Make A List Before Going Shopping: They call it impulse buying for a reason. Humans simply have a very tough time resisting the temptation to purchase extras while shopping. Without a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when you forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place. If you plan on cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping. Getting all that you need in one trip can help avoid another unnecessary trip and temptation.
Go Grocery Shopping While You Are In A Hurry: Maybe you need to go out in a couple of hours. Or your favorite show is going to be on TV after a couple of hours. Try to squeeze in the grocery trip in that intermediate time. Armed with your grocery list, you should be in-and-out very quickly with little time for meandering and getting tempted to buy things you don’t need.
Watch Out For Expiration Dates On Perishable Goods: This one seems intuitive when you read it, but I am surprised at how many people do not pay attention to expiry dates. No point getting a gallon of milk if it is going to turn sour with a couple of days. Same goes for meat, eggs, yogurt, spreads, frozen items, deli/bakery items etc. Some people say you can use a few items a few days after expiry – but I personally value my health more than money and would rather avoid buying such items in the first place.
Buy In Bulk Whenever Possible: When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find something on sale. The items I usually stock up on are, cereals, tinned goods, rice, beans, pasta, coke, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper etc.
Buy Generic Products Whenever Possible: Does it really matter whether your cereal is made by Kellogg’s or is the store brand?
Consolidate And Pay Off Debt As Soon As Possible: If you carry any debt, focus on consolidating it to a lower interest and paying it off as soon as possible. Money paid in interest is money thrown away! Why spend your hard-earned cash to make the financial institutions rich?
Pay Your Bills On Time And Avoid Late Fees: Get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate the payments. Most utilities and other recurring bills can be set to be charged to a credit card or deducted from a checking account these days. Also, many banks offer free bill pay programs. So there really is no excuse for forgetting to pay a bill on time and forking out the late fees. Say, by chance you do forget a bill, if you are a first time offender, call the company and request politely to waive the late fees and more likely than not, they will oblige.