You are here: Home Finances How To Save Money ... Summary
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Summary

If you are in a financial crunch because of your diagnosis, or just want to save more money than you are, you'll need to either increase your income or spend less. This article discusses ways to decrease your spending. If you want information about increasing your income, read Increase Your Income.

As a general matter, there are several guidelines that can help you spend less no matter what the reason for the expenditure:

  • Rethink what is important in your life
  • Know the real cost.
  • Consider the amount of time you have to expend to earn the amount of money you are considering spending.
  • Don't use credit unless absolutely necessary -- or you have a life expectancy of two years or less. Studies indicate that shoppers who use cash feel more of a pinch than people who charge a purchase. One study even showed that people were willing to pay twice as much for an item when they were paying with a credit card.
  • Negotiate. There is no reason to pay more than you need to. One way to negotiate is to make the salesperson your ally. For instance, suggest that you have a problem that needs solving. "I want to purchase this item, but it costs $1,500 and I only have $1,100 in my budget. Can you help me?"
  • Keep your financial goals in mind. Consider setting savings goald - such as save $XXX by Y date. 

Look for discounts because of your health history or physical condition. Better yet: see if you can purchase what you need second hand. Used items can sell for 75 - 80% less than new items. [In addition to local stores, web sites like Craigs List (www.craigslist.org) are a good source for finding gently used items.]

Consider the following money saving guides:

NOTE: One way to get a handle on where your money goes is to take the following steps::

  • Prepare a Cash Flow Statement for last year. This will help you identify areas where you might be able to save money. Use the ideas in this article to then help prepare (and hopefully stick to) a budget. for a person with a serious health condition. To learn more, see Budgeting.
  • Keep track of your expenditures on a free website such as Mint.com offsite link
  • Learn general tricks about saving money. For some noteworthy tips, click here.

Groceries

Plan ahead

  • Write a list of what you need before you leave home. (Apps such as Shopping List are available for smart phones)
    • Inventory all the food in your residence, including fresh, canned and frozen. (With frozen, particularly think how long a food has been in the freezer so you use it before it gets freezer burn).
    • Check sales circulars or coupons you may have.look or that are in your mail box or on the store's website so you can take advantage of sales.
    • Ideally, make a weekly menu. If you include recipes with list can look for overlapping foods.
    • If you find you run out of an item or don't have it when needed, either modify the ingredients or change the menu. Experts indicate that it is not wise to go back to the store. As a general matter, the less you shop, the more you save.
  • If you have a smart phone:
    • Download shopping apps that include coupons or discounts. For instance, FLIPP includes cooupons by area code, subject and store. . Apps can even learn your prefrences and tailor offers to your shopping habits.
  • If you do not have a smart phone, consider the grocery store "club" that is the larger stores promote. These programs are generally free and generally provide savings which are only available to club members.
  • Before you go shopping, check each local store's loss-leaders (items which the store sells at or below cost to get you into the store). If all else is equal about the items on your list, and you can use any of the items being sold as a loss-leader, it is likely financially worthwhile to go to that store (if you won't eat up any savings with the cost of transportation to get there.)
  • Buy staples in a large enough quantity when the ones you use are on sale so you have enough to last you until the next sale.
  • Keep the following mind with respect to fresh food:
    • If you purchase fresh food when it is in season, you can save 40 - 60% when buying produce. To find what food is in season, go to USDA.gov offsite link
    • Consider only buying organic food that is not likely to be "dirty" or contain pesticides.  According to Consumer Reports, foods that need to be peeled are lower riskk of including pesticides. For example: pineapples, mangoes, avocados, onions and corn.
  • According to Consumer Reports Money Adviser, food staples like cereal and chicken hit their lowest prices once every 12 weeks. If you make a note when you see a sale on staples you use, you will know when to stock up next. (If you freeze food - write the date of freezing on the wrapper, or the date by which it has to be used before getting freezer burn.)
  • Buy extras of items on sale that are not perishable - so long as you limit purchases to what you know you will use in a reasonable period of time.

Try store brands

Consumer Reports found that many store brands are as good as nationally branded goods. In fact, many store brands are made by the same companies that make the national brands.

Look for less expensive yet nutritious foods

If you are looking for nutrient-dense but inexpensive foods, try fiber-rich grains like barley and quinoa.

Instead of planning meals around meat, choose less-expensive proteins like beans, eggs, skinless chicken thighs, or canned salmon.

When buying fresh produce, get what's local and in season. You'll often save money since the food doesn't have to be flown or trucked from a far away place.

Use mobile phone apps to compare prices

  • You can use applications (apps) on a mobile phone to compare prices. The apps let you scan bar codes while you shop. (for example: QR codes for "Quick Response.") The apps tell you if there is a nearby or other store with the same item at a better price. (Before you pass up the item in front of you, check with the other store to be sure the item is in stock. If you need the store's phone number, free information is available at 800.GOOG.411)
  • Consider the following apps:
    • The app known as Cellfire loads coupons from grocery stores and other retailers onto your loyalty cards and sends a reminder to your mobile device that you have a coupon when you enter a store that provided it.
    • Clutch stores your loyalty and gift-card data. Use the app at checkout to get your discount or have your purchase credited.
    • Favado compares real-time sale data.
    • Flipp has digital circulars
    • Foursquare (www.foursquare.com offsite link) sends deal alerts to your phone when you are near a store with a deal.
    • PriceGrabber provides information about the retailer selling goods at the best price.
    • Redlaser compares prices of online retailers and local walk-in stores.

Discount stores

Consider shopping at discount supermarkets for staples and other items. The larger your family, the more money you'll save, even when you include the costs such as the annual fee chains such as Costco charge, the cost of gas, and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Coupons

Use coupons. They can save a lot of money. Just make sure you don't spend more because of coupons. For more information, see Coupons.

At  checkout, check the app: Honey. It attempts to provide all available coupon discounts. See: JoinHoney.com offsite link

Auctions

Prices of food purchased via food auctions is generally much cheaper than retail. You can search for local events at www.auctionzip.com offsite link and www.craigslist.org. offsite link Be sure you know the prices of auctioned goods before bidding so you do not get carried away and pay too much. 

In store scanner

Some groceries offer customers the option of using a handheld scanner available in the store to ring up products while you shop. You may also get offers for extra discounts as you walk through the store. If you don't stick to your shopping list, this "money saving" device can cost you more by making purchases you didn't need.

Be smart in the store

Think about the way stores display items to maximize their profit - not your savings. For example:

  • Items featured at the end of an aisle may be regular price - not on sale as you may expect from the placement.
  • Items stocked at eye level may be more expensive than items on lower (or higher) shelves.
  • Check expiration dates. With perishable items, it is not unusual to place items that will expire soonest in the front of a shelf.
  • Check unit prices so you can purchase the most economical size. Unit prices are price per.... (ounce, sheet etc)
  • Shop clockwise. According to Bottom Line Personal, shoppers who move counterclockwise through a store spend up to 7% more.
  • Carry your own music. Stores have found that the slower the music, the more people linger in the store - and shop. You can counter this tendency by carrying your own music.
  • Products near speed bumps tend to be premium products.

Don't grocery shop with a handheld basket. One study found that shoppers who carry a basket are more likely to add impulse purchases such as candy. Using a regular shopping cart helps people stick to a list.

NOTE: Check to see if you are, or could be, eligible for assistance with respect to food. For example,

  • Federal Food Assistance/ Nutrition Programs
  • People 60 and older who have a limited income can get coupons to use at authorized farm stands and farmers markets. Go to fns.usda.gov offsite link and click on Programs at the top of the page. Then select Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

Group Purchases (Deal-Hunting Sites)

One way to save money is to join with other people to obtain a discount for group purchases (just like group health insurance is cheaper than individually purchased health insurance.)

One way to join with other people is through dedicated web sites such as:

Check details on how each program works and how personal data is used before signing up. For instance, with Groupon.com, once enough people sign up to obtain a discount, you have to complete the purchase within a limited period of time.

Borrow Or Rent Items and Tools Peer To Peer

Websites that are known as "peer to peer" connect owners and nearby neighbors that are either willing to let you borrow for free, or rent items, such as power tools and cameras. These arrangements work well for items that you need for a day or other short period of time.

Sites which help people borrow or rent  items from a neighbor are the following:

Rental sites provide a contract which usually includes a deposit in case of damage. Items are usually listed for free. There is usually a charge for the renter which is a percenatge of the rental fee.

Banking

Credit unions generally have fewer and lower fees than commercial banks.

You can join a credit union easily. For example:

  • www.CreditUnion.coop offsite link (credit unions by location or the organization with which they are affiliated)
  • Alliant Credit Union is open to people who make a onetime donation of $10 to Foster Care To Success, a charity which serves foster teens.  www.AlliantCreditUnion.org offsite link
  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union is open to people who make a one time donation of $20 to National Military Family Association or who are employees or volunteers of the American Red Cross.   www.PenFed.org offsite link
  • You can find additional credit unions through web sites such as National Association of Federal Credit Unions: www.culookup.com offsite link and National Credit Union Administration: www.ncua.gov offsite link

You can access your money across the country through a variety of means. For example:

  • The Co-Op Network: Members have access without a surcharge fee to thousands of ATMs across the US and Canada. To find out if there are ATMs convenient for your life, see: www.Co-opNetwork.org offsite link
  • Members of The Credit Union Service Center Network can use branches of other credit unions in the network. See: www.CusWirl.com offsite link
  • Most credit unions belong to bank ATM networks.  Some credit unions don't charge a fee or reimburse you in part or in full for ATM fees that other institutions charge.

Credit Cards

According to at least one money expert, we spend 30% more when we use a credit card for purchases than when we use cash. It's worth giving the technique a try.

For ideas on saving money on your credit cards, see How To Manage Credit Card Costs.

Clothing

Before buying clothing, consider looking at websites such as:

  • RetailMeNot .com offsite link.  A clearinghouse for discounts, coupons and time-limited of deals from online stores.
  • ShoptItToMe.com offsite link.  Once you register, it lets you know where there are sales on items you are looking for - including by brand name designers. The site is free.

Consider using apps on your smart phone. For instance:

  • Goodzer compares prices on products carried by stores in your neighborhood. 
  • Poachit lets you flag an item you want. The app then sends you a text when it goes on sale.  It also sends coupon codes for items which are discounted.
  • Pricegrabber allows you to see whether other retailers offer lower prices. It also allows you to set up a price alert letting you know when an item is marked down.

If it is just are tired of your clothes and want new ones, consider trading unwanted clothing online for styles you like at SwapStyle offsite link or Rehash Clothes offsite link

For special occasions, think about renting clothes. For instance, check out the following web sites:

Charity-driven thrift shops generally have gently used clothes, sometimes they even have designer labels. To find a thirft shop near you, go to: www.TheThriftShopper.com. Search by zip code, city or state.

Coupons and Smart Phone Apps

You can save a lot of money by using coupons and smart phone apps.

Coupons

Coupons are an easy way to save money because they provide a discount often otherwise unavailable. 

Coupons can also cost you money. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Coupons are generally for pricier brands. A discount from a high price may still be higher than a generic alternative. This may be worthwhile if the pricier product is indeed better, but is a money loser if it is not.
  • Shop wisely. Coupons may induce you to purchase foods or other products you would not normally purchase - including unhealthy food products.
  • Look closely at a deal which includes "Free". A free extra can cause you to spend more than you otherwise would.
  • Don't spend the savings on a "luxury" item that you would not have purchased if you didn't think you just saved some money.

Coupons are available on line in addition to in periodicals such as the Sunday newspaper (which is a major source of coupons). There are so many online coupon sites tthat searching all of them would be a full-time job. Instead, consider a site and/or app which aggregates information such as the following:

Also, consider contacting the web sites of the companies that manufacture the products that you use continuously. Many companies provide printable coupons on their web site or will send you coupons if you sign up for their newsletters. (You can search for the company web site in your favorite search engine)

Smart Phone Apps

In addition to the sites listed above which often have their own smart-phone apps, consider the following apps::

  • Check stores where you shop frequently to find out if they have an app, as well as what online coupons are offered and how to obtain them. You can either check on line or at the store.
  • Pushpins. When you scan a grocery item in a store, this iphone app lets you know if there are any copuons available. 
  • QR (Quick Response) - to access deals by scanning a bar code.
  • Schooger. You can search by location, retailer name, category or key word. You can even get alerts that inform you when new coupons are posted. (Android, Blackberry and iPhones)
  • Yowza!!. Locates coupons within 50 miles of where you are. Coupons are sent to your phone for the cashier to scan. (Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Palm Pre phones)

You can also get coupons directly on youir credit or debit card with what are referred to as "card-linked" savings. According to Bottom Line Personal, these savings are automatically enabled with some cards. With others, you log on to a Web site or download an app to activate the feature.  When you buy something for which you have a card-linked offer, you automatically get the savings. For example:

  • Ally Perks (debit cards)
  • American Express' Amex Sync on Facebook
  • BankAmeriDeals from Bank of America
  • OfferLink from Wells Fargo, Barclays and CitiBank credit cards
  • Saving Star (groceries)

Discounts Because Of Your Health History or Physical Condition

To find discounts in your area, contact::

  • The Community Action Partnership, www.CommunityActionPartnership.com  offsite link Tel.: 202.265.7546
  • National Association of Area Agencies on Aging  www.n4a.org   offsite linkTel.: 202.872.0888
  • The local office of nonprofit groups associated with your health condition.
  • Your local power company and local communications company. There may be special discounts for customers with special needs. If the representative who answers the phone doesn't know of any discounts, ask to speak with a supervisor. Perhaps he or she has additional information.




Eating Out

Consider the following tips to eating out less expensively:

Consider the following websites:

  • www.BiteHunter.com offsite link- listings of restaurant specials and daily meals by searching other sites such as Citysearch and Groupon
  • www.EatDrinkDeals.com offsite link includes discounts from national and regional chains

Do not be afraid to order the cheapest wine on a restaurant's list. If the wine was not up to the restaurant's standards, it would not be on the list.

Choose the bar menu.  The portions are generally smaller, but so is the price.

Use the lunch menu instead of the dinner menu. Portions are smaller, but so is the price.

Look at the prix-fixe (price fixed) offering. Ordering prix-fixe is usually less expensive than a la carte

If you have children, look for a restaurant that lets kids eat for free. You can find a restaurant that serves children for free (generally on particular nights) at www.mykidseatfree.com offsite link

If you are a senior: ask if a senior discount is available. A 15% discount saves $7.50 on a $50 charge.

Electronics, Appliances, Furniture and Other Large Purchases

For expensive items, get up the nerve to negotiate. Retailers will not raise a price just because you ask for a discount.  A survey by Consumer Reports National Research Center found that more than 90% of consumers who negotiated on large purchases received a discount at least one time during the survey period. Consumers have found that they can frequently save 5 to 10% of the asking price, and sometimes even more.

To get a discount, consider the following:

  • Start by asking to speak with a person who has authority to negotiate. 
  • If you have a price in mind, ask for it. (Leave some room for haggling.)
  • If you have cash, let the person know that. A retailer saves money by not having to pay the credit card company part of your purchase.
  • If competitors sell the item at a lower price, let the person know it.
  • If you don't have a price in mind, ask something like "What is the best price you can give on this item?"

If the answer is "no", don't get embarrassed or nasty. It's up to you to decide whether to purchase the item at the full price or not.

Jeff Yaeger,  a shopping expert, recommends not asking for a price discount early in the week. It is better to ask on a Friday or just before a holiday or three day weekend.

NOTE: When looking for furniture or home improvement and building materials, both new and used, check out Habitat ReStores, operated by the nonprpofit organization Habitat for Humanity.  To find local stores, click here offsite link.

Electricity

The residents of many states have the right to purchase electricity from a supplier other than the local utility - just like you can choose a telephone company.

The other supplier doesn't have to be in your area. It can even be in a different region. Customers receive the same electricity as before the switch.

Be sure to ask the right questions before changing to make sure you are getting the best deal and one that saves you money. For instance: First find out how much you are paying per KWh. Then, ask:

  • What is the price per KWh? 
  • How often can the rate change?
  • Is there a cancellation fee?
  • Is there a cancellation fee from my local utility?
  • Is there a minimum montly purchse amount?
  • Are there other fees, such as a sign up fee?
  • Is there a sign up bonus?

To find an alternative supplier, including what to look for before entering into a contract, look at the web site of The Retail Energy Supply Association at: www.resausa.org offsite link. Click on "Consumer Corner."  You may find additional useful information at sites such as SaveOnEnergy.net offsite linkand LowerElectricBillToday.com offsite link

Entertainment

Look for better prices at

Eyeglasses

Check out online retailers. For example:

To obtain prescription glasses from these sites, you will need a prescription from your ophthalmologist , and to know your pulillary distance which is the distance between the centers of your pupils. Your optometrist can give you the pupillary number or online retails procide instructions for measuring yourself.


Gifts

Cut back on what you spend on gifts, especially during the holidays. Handmade gifts or gifts purchased at thrift shops can be appreciated just as much as new ones. Remember: it really is the thought that counts.

E-Readers (Free books)

You can download e books for free. For example:

Household Expenses

Mortgage

If you own your home, can you refinance to obtain a cheaper interest rate? Is it worthwhile when you consider the costs of the new loan?

Even if you can't decrease the interest rate, can you refinance to reduce your monthly expense? This may be a costly maneuver in the long run. In the shorter run, you can relieve stress and free up money for other uses.

If you're interested in saving interest over the long haul, it might make sense to make additional prepayments beyond your regular monthly payments.

  • This can be done with lump sum payments you can send to the lender when you have extra money.
  • Some lenders have a program where you pay half of the monthly payment every two weeks instead of once a month. In order to start automatic payments, the lender may require that you pay a month in advance -- which means that in order to start the program, you may have to pay two months worth of payments in one month. If you do make an extra mortgage payment, be sure to include a note indicating that you want the extra money applied to a reduction in your principal (the amount you borrowed).

To figure out whether or not prepaying a mortgage might be good for you, check out a calculator such as SmartMoney.com's calculator at www.smartmoney.com/home/living/index.cfm?story=prepay offsite link.

Telephone bill

  • Many telephone companies offer special programs for basic phone services for people who are seniors, disabled or have low fixed incomes. Contact your local phone service provider to find out if this might work for you.
  • If you have a computer with a high speed connection, you may be able to switch your phone to the computer where you can get unlimited calls for a flat monthly rate.
  • Can you make do with a cell phone instead of both a cell phone and a land line?
  • In your area, check whether you can receive phone service bundled with television and computer service -- which saves on all three services.

Electricity

  • Electric companies sometimes have special programs for seniors, people who are disabled or who have low fixed incomes. If not, you might be able to enroll in a level-billing program that will spread your bill out evenly over the year.
  • Electric companies also sometimes provide free energy evaluation. For a free evaluation, see the U.S. Department of Energy website at: http://hes.lbl.gov/consumer offsite link

Insurance

When's the last time you shopped for a new rate? See Buying Homeowners Insurance.

Your cable or satellite provider

  • Do you really use all the features/channels that you're paying for, or would you be OK with a more basic plan?
  • Would it be less expensive to bundle the service with your telephone and/or computer?
  • You likely did the research once that led you to the provider you have. If you did the research today, would there be a less expensive alternative? It's worth taking the time to find out if you think about how much you spend for this service -- particularly if you think of the money you spend per year instead of per month.

Internet Access

Do you really need high speed access for which you pay extra, or can you make do with dial-up access through the phone for which you're already paying?

Some companies -- such as AOL -- offer limited service plans for free or at a lower price.

Perhaps you can get what you need from the internet at your local library or internet  cafe.

Mobile phone and telephone land lines

Choose the plan that works best for you. Call the customer service representative of the phone companies that serve your area and ask them to compare your usage to the plans that are available. Also be on the lookout for new promotional plans: they often don't apply only to new customers.

Hint: If you threaten to move to another provider, you may be able to get a deal. After all, what does the company spend on your account?

Consider moving to a less expensive residence.

Once you have a fix on all of the expenses needed to maintain your household, consider moving to a less expensive residence.

If you do consider a move, in addition to the cost of purchasing or renting a home, include the costs to maintain it. Also include the costs of moving and the expenses involved with visiting friend and stores you like in your current neighborhood.

Consider moving to a less expensive locale.

Review all the costs associated with maintaining your household, starting with where you live. Does it make sense for you to move to a less expensive space or, even, a less expensive city?

The cost of living varies widely in different areas. This may not be so important when you're still working since salaries can also be expected to be less in those areas. However, this fact can become important if you're on disability. On disability, your income won't change if you move (unless you're on Supplemental Security Income (SSI)), but your expenses might decrease.

If you'd like to compare the costs of living in different areas, check out: www.homefair.com/calc/salcalc.html?NETSCAPE_LIVEWIRE.src=moneymag offsite link and www.moving.com/Find_a_Place/Cityprofile/ offsite link.

For salaries in different areas, try www.salary.com/home/layoutscripts/sall_home.asp offsite link.

Appliances and Electronic Equipment

Retailers "refurbish" returned goods by repairing them, if necessary, and possibly repackaging them. Prices can be as low as 20% of retail. Best deals usually occur in January because of Christmas returns.

Before purchasing a refurbished piece of equipment, find out the following:

  •  How the dealer defines "refurbished."  It may be only an item that is perfect, but was returned. Or there may be cosmetic damage such as a small knick.
  • The type and length of warranty
  • The store's return policy with respect to refurbished items.
  • Whether the item comes with all the basic components that usually accompany a new product.

If you decide to stay in your home

See New Uses of Assets for ideas on reducing your mortgage payments, generating cash, or living with someone to share expenses.

Meals

As a general matter, home cooked meals are cheaper than eating out.

If you don't have the energy or time to cook, perhaps a family member or group of friends can help out. One tip is to cook a large batch of food, divide it into individual meal sizes, and freeze the containers.

One study showed that a family of 4 which ate at home instead of out saved $800 a year just on sodas. While that may be an extreme, the savings can be substantial.

Depending on your physical condition, you might also be able to get meals from your local Meals-on-Wheels or other low-cost or free meal delivery service.  For information about food delivery in your area, contact your local disease specific non-profit organization or your social worker.)

To use up food that you already have, plug the ingredients into a website such as recipematcher.com  offsite link

NOTE: If you are in treatment or housebound, there may be free meals delivered to your door. Speak with a social worker at your local hospital or a local disease specific support organization to learn what is available in your area.

Seniors

First and foremost, consider joining AARP offsite link which has a batch of discounts for members.  Annual membership fee is under $20.

Also consider the following which provide discounts for seniors:

  • Amtrak
  • Kohls
  • Marriott Hotels
  • National Parks
  • T-Mobile
  • Walgreens

Shopping

Avoid impulse purchases with a few simple techniques

If you have trouble controlling your impulse spending, consider setting rules for yourself. Examples include:

  • Set a limit on the number of times per week you go to the ATM.
  • Figure out an amount to spend shopping before going to the stores, and bring only that amount (in cash) with you. (Leave the credit cards at home!)
  • Give yourself an allowance every week, based on your budget. Don't spend more than your allowance on non-budgeted items.
  • Never buy a "big-ticket" item without sleeping on it first.

If spending on credit cards gets out of control, see How To Keep From Overusing Your Credit Cards.

Make what you can

In a sense, you'll be "earning" the money you save. There are lots of free "how to" instructions on the internet.

Check online for the products you want

Download shopping apps to your smart phone so you can compare prices while shopping. For instance, conside the following which are listed iIn alphabetical order:

  • Amazon Price Check
  • BuyVia (for tech purchases)
  • Google Shopper
  • PriceGrabber
  • Red Laser (also allows you to clip coupons)
  • Shop Savvy
  • Smope

Note that the following apps also give you an idea about the likelihood that the product will change price in the future:  Decide and Shop Advisor

Sign up for daily deals

You can sign up for daily deals at such websites as:

Register for e-mail or Twitter alerts at your favorite stores to receive insider-only promotions.

Buy items from thrift/second hand shops

The clothes and other items these stores sell is oftentimes as good as new. Once the items are cleaned, they're no different than clothes you bought new that you're wearing for the second, third or umpteenth time. (If the shop is connected with a charity, you're also doing good…..) Before you think you don't want to live with other people's used stuff, isn't that what antiques are?

To find the best deals, look for a thrift shop or consignment shop in an upscale neighborhood.  Most shops have goods from local residents. 

Consider using coupons. They can save a lot of money.

To find coupons, see: Coupons

When you are ready to check out, check the app known as Honey (see joinHoney.com) offsite link

Comparison shop

Download  one or more apps which let you scan a bar code of an item and compare in-store and online prices at other retailers. For example, RedLaser and ShopSavvy/

Join AARP

AARP members can get discounts of up to 35% on more than 500 products if products are ordered at: www.aarp.org/marketplace offsite link

If your shopping is out of control, now is the time to do something about it

If it hurts your relationships or your finances, it may well be and you may be a shopaholic. Create a budget, and stick to it. Pay for purchases with cash or a check or a debit card. If the problem continues, get help from a professional or try Debtors Anonymous (a 12 step program like Alcoholics Anonymous.) For more information, seewww.debtorsanonymous.org offsite link or tel. 781. 453.2743. For help with your debt, see How To Deal With A Financial Crunch.

Use the credit card that will provide maximum benefits

If you tell the following apps what credit cards you have (not the numbers, just the type of card), it will tell you which card to use to maximize cash back for a particular transaction:

  • Glyph
  • Wallaby

Telephone

If you have both a landline and a mobile phone, can you eliminate the landline and just use the mobile?

If you do need a landline, can you run it through your computer? Generally computer generated phone bills are less expensive than through traditional telephone companies. Long distance calls may even be free.

Transportation

Try to figure out the cheapest way for you to get around.

If you own or lease an automobile

  • Can you do without a car? Heaven forbid in America. But do you really need one? Is good public transportation available? Are there local programs to drive you to and from medical appointments?
  • If you need buy or lease a vehicle:
    • Get a fix on what the car really costs: add up all of your expenses, including car payments, maintenance charges, gasoline, and automobile insurance. Take into account all expenses when looking at alternatives.
    • Could you trade-down for a vehicle that's less expensive to operate and maintain? Would it be less expensive to buy a new car? For example, a new car with higher monthly payments that is under warranty could in fact be a better deal than an older one for which you constantly pay for repairs. On the other hand, the insurance on the new car is probably higher.
    • A buying service provides prenegotiated prices on new cars from participating dealers. For instance, www.zag.com offsite link. Alternatively, a negotiating serfvice will get you bids on the model you want with the options you want in the area you specify. For instance, www.CarBargains.com offsite link
  • Improve fuel economy by:
    • Eliminating junk in your trunk.  Every 100 pounds of extra weight in your car reduces your fuel economy by 2%.
    • Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure as shown in your owner's manual or on th edoor jamb. Low tire pressure can reduce fuel economy by 3%.
  • When purchasing gas:
    • Look for less expensive gas at www.GasBuddy.com offsite link(which also has an app for your mobile device)
    • Do not fill up on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  Gas prices typically rise over the weekend
    • If you use a credit card from the gas company, you can earn a rebate.
    • Tighten your gas cap until you hear a click which means that the gas line is sealed. A tight seal helps avoid loss due to evaporation and other factors.
  • When you travel by car:
    • You can map the most fuel efficient route by using the Autmobile Club of America's Fuel Cost Calculator. See: www.FuelCostCalculator.com offsite link
    • According to AAA, a tuned engine can save you 4% in gas. Properly inflated tires can save you 3.3%
    • Per USA Today, for every five miles per hour you drive over 60 miles per hour, you add about 24 cents a gallon to the price of gas.
    • According to Kiplinger's Personal Finance, inflating your tires to the maximum pressure recommended by the tire manufacturer can improve your mileage by as much as 10 percent. The only trade-offs are a slightly harsher ride and a bit more noise.
    • EZ pass reduces idling time and usually gets you a discount at the booth. You are not required to buy your pass from your home state. Check surrounding state's Web sites to wee which has the cheapest plan for you. You can find each state's program through: www.ezpass.com/static/info/facilities.shtml offsite link
  • To learn about reducing your automobile insurance bill, see Buying Automobile Insurance.

Public Transportation

Many counties or cities offer reduced rate public transportation passes because of age, health or frequency of use. If you use public transportation, check to see if you qualify.

There may also be free transportation available • particularly to and from medical appointments. To learn more, see Transportation.

Travel

When booking a flight, start your search at a site that shows fares from various airlines.

Momondo.com offsite link covers all the airlines, including airlines that do not give a commission for references. These airlines are often not found on the major search engines.

For multi-stop trips, consider Kayak.com offsite link

Tod Marks, an expert for Consumer Reports, suggests:

Mr. Marks warns that airlines can track how much you paid for tickets in the past by leavings "cookies" on your computer. If you paid a lot before, you are likely to be quoted more than other people now. Erase your search history and set your browswer to reject cookies.

Be flexible in your travel dates.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are usually the cheapest days to fly.

NOTE: When comparing prices, include all fees and taxes, including fees for checked bags.

Work Related

  • Take lunch, if you don't already.
  • Think about what you can do to cut transportation costs. For example:
    • Use public transportation.
    • Share a ride to get to and from work.
    • Find out if you can work from home one or more days per week.
  • If you have to go out with the crowd, nurse a drink -- or stick to non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Cut back on work related magazine and newspaper subscriptions. You can often keep current by reading them on the Internet, in your local library, or even in the doctor's waiting room!

For Additional Ideas About Saving Money

Search The Internet

Search the internet via the major search search engines for the product or service you need. It doesn't take a lot of time to search more than one engine. For example, try:

Be careful:

  • Some "discounts" may only be a come-on to try to get you to spend money.
  • Watch for "add-ons" that add charges after you commit to buying something but before the purchase is complete.
  • As the old saying goes: "If it is too good to be true, it probably isn't"

Subscribe To Or Look Online At Personal Finance Publications

For instance, Kiplinger's Personal Finance. offsite link