Sometimes it takes creativity to cut back. Whether you're getting squeezed by credit card bills or saving for a big purchase like a car or home, there are some easy ways to save big chunks of change many people aren't thinking about. Here are a few, with assists from personal-finance experts Jeff Yeager and Lynnette Khalfani-Cox.
Paying full price is so 2005. But if you're like many Americans, you can't negotiate your way out of a parking lot. Learn and save. Things such as rent, bank fees, electronics, apparel and even food can be had at a discount just by asking — or by offering to pay cash.
If you stay closer to home you'll save big. AAA estimates it costs more than $8,000 a year to operate the average car. Driving 15 percent less amounts to a $1,200 savings in that case.
On home and car insurance, agreeing to pay a higher deductible, say $1,000 instead of $250 or $500, can save you a bundle in premiums.
You're only covered for a set amount of years, but you can get a lot more for a lot less cash. A 20- or 30-year term policy will cover the life of a mortgage and be there until kids are out of college. For a healthy 35-year-old man, $500,000 of insurance can be had for $30 a month for 20 years. That same amount in whole-life insurance could cost hundreds a month.
Taxes on smokes are going up again, putting the average price of a pack of Marlboros at more than $5. A pack a day at that price costs $1,825 a year.
An individual-development account is a special savings account that helps low-income workers buy homes, cars or start businesses. The accounts are matched by donated dollars at a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. More people qualify than one might think. Visit www.idanetwork.org to find out more.
They can run about $800 less than an auto-matic and get two to four miles per gallon more, according to Consumer Reports. They cost less to fix and you earn cool points.
Your home is typically your biggest monthly expense. Whether you rent or own, cut your cost and make a new friend.
Turn off the phone, disconnect the computer and stop your mail. Check for resident discounts on local attractions and explore some great restaurants.
Is that New Year's resolution slimming your wallet more than your waist?
Consider ditching the pricey gym membership and save on gas getting there. Find out if you can freeze payments when you aren't going.