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                                                  Ways to save money

Airline Fares
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 in advance.
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 is.
Be flexible  if possible. Consider using low fare carriers or alternative airports and keep an eye out for fare wars.

Car Rental
Since car rental rates can vary greatly  shop around for the best basic rates. Ask about any additional charges (extra driver, gas, drop-off fees) and special offers.
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 lifetime of a car by selecting a model that combines a low purchase price with low financing, insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs. Ask your local librarian for new car guides that contain this information.
Having selected a model  you can save hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping. Call at least five dealers for price quotes and let each know that you are calling others.
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 found at many libraries, banks  and credit unions.
Have a mechanic you trust check the car  especially if the car is sold "as is."
Consider purchasing a used car from an individual 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 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.
Leasing a car is very complicated. When shopping  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. Keys to Vehicle Leasing: A Consumer Guide, published by the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission, is a valuable source of information about auto leasing.

Gasoline
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.
You can save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping 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  and communicates well about repair options and costs.

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.
Talk to your agent or insurer about raising your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverages to at least $500 or  if you have an old car  dropping these coverages altogether. Taking these steps can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
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 insurance 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 important to call at least four insurers for price quotes.
Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace the house and its contents. "Replacement" on the house means rebuilding to its current condition.
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.
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.
Check your public library for information about the financial soundness of insurance companies and the prices they charge. The July 1998 issue of Consumer Reports is a valuable source of information about a number of insurers.

Checking
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 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.
Savings and Investment Products

Before opening a savings or investment account with a bank or other financial institution, find out whether the account is insured by the federal government (FDIC or NCUA). An increasing number of products offered by these institutions, including mutual stock funds and annuities are not insured.
To earn the highest return on savings (annual percentage yield) with little or no risk  consider certificates of deposit (CDs) and treasury bills or notes.
Once you select a type of savings or investment product  compare rates and fees offered by different institutions. These rates can vary a lot and, over time, can significantly affect interest earnings.

Credit Cards
You can save as much as a thousand dollars or more each year in lower credit card interest charges by paying off your entire bill each month.
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). For a modest fee, RAM Research Corp. (800-344-7714) will send you a list of low-rate cards. You can obtain a list of low-rate cards by accessing "www.ramresearch.com.cardtrack" on the Internet.
You can reduce credit card fees, which may add up to more than $100 a year  by getting rid of all but one or two cards and by avoiding late payment and over-the-credit limit fees.

Auto Loans
If you have significant savings earning a low interest rate, consider making a large down payment or even paying for the car in cash. This could save you as much as several thousand dollars in finance charges.
You can save as much as hundreds of dollars in finance charges by shopping for the cheapest loan. Contact several banks, your credit union, and the auto manufacturer's own finance company.

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. On a $100,000 fixed-rate loan at 8% annual percentage rate (APR), for example, you will pay $90,000 less in interest on a l 5-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 8.5% to 8.0% can save you more than $5,000 in interest charges. On this mortgage, 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. Then ask an accountant to compute precisely how much each mortgage option will cost and its tax implications.
Be aware that the interest rate on most adjustable rate mortgage loans (ARMs) can vary a great deal over the lifetime of the mortgage. An increase of several percentage points might raise payments by hundreds of dollars per month.

Mortgage Refinancing
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 up-front fees) 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. These loans reduce the equity that you have built up in your home. If you are unable to make payments, you could lose your home.
Compare home equity loans offered by at least four banking institutions. In comparing these loans, consider not only the annual percentage rate (APR) but also points, closing costs, other fees, and the index for any variable rate changes.

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.
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 classified ads or referrals from friends and acquaintances. Select buildings where you would like to live and contact their building manager or owner to see if anything is available.
Remember that signing a lease probably obligates 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 written, fixed-price bids for the work.
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 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.

Electricity
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.
Enrolling in load management programs and off-hour rate programs offered by your electric utility may save you up to $100 a year in electricity costs. Call your electric utility for information about these cost-saving programs.

Home Heating
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.

Local Telephone Service
Check with your phone company to see whether a flat rate or measured service plan will save you the most money.
You will usually save money by buying your phones instead of leasing them.
Check your local phone bill to see if you have optional services that you don't really need or use. Each option you drop could save you $40 or more each year.

Long Distance Telephone Service
Long distance calls made during evenings, at night, or on weekends can cost significantly less than weekday calls.
If you make more than a few long distance calls each month, consider subscribing to a calling plan. Call several long distance companies to see which one has the least expensive plan for the calls you make.
Whenever possible, dial your long distance calls directly. Using the operator to complete a call can cost you an extra $6.

Food Purchased at Markets
You can save hundreds of dollars a year by shopping at the lower-priced food stores. Convenience stores often charge the highest prices.
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.

Prescription Drugs
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 .

Funeral Arrangements
Make your wishes known about your funeral, memorial, or burial arrangements in writing. Be cautious about prepaying because there may be risks involved.
For information about the least costly options, which could save you several thousand dollars, contact a local memorial society  which is usually listed in the Yellow Pages under funeral services.
Before selecting a funeral home, call several and ask for prices of specific goods and services, or visit them to obtain an itemized price list. You are entitled to this information by law and by using it to comparison shop  you can save hundreds of dollars.

 



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