You may lower the price of a round
trip air fare by as much as two-thirds by making certain your trip
includes a Saturday evening stay over, and by purchasing the ticket
To make certain you have a cheap
fare, even if you use a travel agent, contact all the airlines that
fly where you want to go and ask what the lowest fare to your destination
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 found at many libraries, banks, and credit
Have a mechanic you trust check
the car, especially if the car is sold "as is."
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.
You can save up to $100 a year
on gas by keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their
Talk to your agent or insurer about
raising your deductibles on collision and comprehensive
coverage to at least $500 or, if you have an old car, dropping this
Check the National Association
of Insurance Commissioners website (www.naic.org/servlet/cis.Main)
or your local library for information on the financial soundness
of insurance companies.
You can save more than $100 a year
in fees by selecting a checking account with a low (or no) minimum
balance requirement that you can, and do, meet. Request a list of
these and other fees (including ATM and debit card fees) that are
charged on these accounts.
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.
If you are unable to pay off a
large balance, pay as much as you can and switch to a credit card
with a low annual percentage rate (APR). You can obtain listings
of low-rate credit cards through www.cardlocator.com
(click on credit cards), which provide information at no charge
You can reduce credit card fees,
which may add up to well over $100 a year, by getting rid of all
but one or two cards, and by avoiding annual, late payment, and
over-the-credit limit fees.
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.
On a $100,000 fixed-rate loan at 7% annual percentage rate (APR),
for example, you will pay over $75,000 less in interest on a 15-year
mortgage than on a 30-year mortgage.
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 7% to 6.5% can save you more than $5,000 in
interest charges, and paying two points instead of three would save
you an additional $1,000.
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. You
may also check www.bankrate.com
for mortgage information in your area. Then ask an accountant to
compute precisely how much each mortgage option will cost and its
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 points, fees and closing costs)
will cost and whether, in the long run, it will cost less than your
Do not purchase any house until
it has been examined by a home inspector that you selected.
Do not sign any contract that requires
full payment before satisfactory completion of the work.
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.
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 more.
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.
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.
If you make very few toll or long
distance calls, avoid calling plans with monthly fees or minimums.
Check your phone bill to see if
you have optional calling services you don't use. Each option you
drop could save you $40 or more each year.
You will spend less on food if
you shop with a list.
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.
Since brand name drugs are usually
much more expensive than their generic equivalents, ask your physician
and pharmacist for generic drugs whenever appropriate.
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.