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Ways to Save $10,000 This Year

by Kim Danger, Family Savings Expert for Coupons.com

With the rising cost of groceries and the economy continuing its downturn, it seems everyone is looking for ways to cut back on spending. However, nobody wants to sacrifice their standard of living. Here are some relatively easy ways to come up with big savings - as much as $10,000 per year. In many ways, following these tips will enhance your quality of life as well as improve your finances.

Rethink Entertainment

Read more. Swap magazines with a friend. Create a queue using library holds and interlibrary loans. This works for books, CDs, audiotapes, and other media too. You'll get a steady stream of new selections each week and it won't cost you a penny. When you do buy new books and DVDs, look for sales, coupons, and other discounts. Amazon's marketplace is a great source for finding gently-used books. Consider buying previously-viewed movies (which typically cost 50% of the original price). When you're through with books and DVDs, consider swapping them. The Mommysavers Bartering Board allows members to trade without money changing hands and has a special section just for book trades. By saving $50 a month, you'll come out $600 richer at the end of the year.
Total Savings: $600 per year

Eating Out

Changing your restaurant habits a little bit can help you save a lot without giving it up entirely. Once a month, have friends over for a potluck dinner. When you do cook, make a double batch and freeze half to eat later when you simply don't feel like cooking. This will help you avoid the temptation to get take-out. Instead of heading to your favorite restaurant on the weekend, eat out during the week when there are more specials such as Happy Hours and Kids Eat Free nights - which are typically on Mondays or Tuesdays. Look for coupons online and on sites like Restaurant.com. Cut your budget back by just $25 a week and you've saved $1300 per year.
Total Savings: $1300 per year

Clip Coupons, Shop Sales

Often, the biggest savings in discretionary income come from becoming a savvy grocery shopper. The average grocery shopper who spends slightly more than $100 on groceries in a typical week can save over $900 per year by using coupons, amounting to a conservative estimate of 15% in savings. Online coupons are becoming more prevalent and make it even easier to save. Sites like Coupons.com offer a steady stream of great discounts on pet food and toiletries, as well as groceries. Go one step further and plan your meals around what's on sale at the grocery store, and you can save another 20%.
Total Savings: $2100 per year

Vacations

You don't have to give up your family vacation this year, but scaling back is a good idea. Getting creative with your vacation budget will allow you to take a much-needed break without breaking the bank. Consider staying closer to home instead of flying somewhere. A weekend in a nearby city can be fun if you approach it with a sense of adventure. Try sites like Hotwire to save 40% or more off your hotel expenses. Check out Entertainment.com for discounts on admission fees.
Total Savings: $800-$1200 per year

Buy Fewer Pieces of Clothing

Let's face it: most of our closets are overstuffed the way they are. Wear out what you have, and when you do purchase something get it at the end of the season when it's marked down by 50-75%. The best time to purchase -weather clothing is in August, cool-weather clothing in January. Let the Mommysavers.com What's In Store forum clue you in to markdowns and where to find the best deals. Most people are so wrapped up in the idea of image, but the truth is that other people don't pay as much attention to what you wear as you think they do. One woman in Canada even wore the same thing to the office for a month and only a few people noticed.
Total Savings: $1000 per year

Get new Insurance Quotes, Raise Your Deductibles

If you haven't re-evaluated car insurance policies lately, you could be paying too much. One quick way to save is to raise your deductible. If your deductible is set at $500 consider raising it to $1,000. Yes, you'll have to pay more out-of-pocket if you're in an accident, but you could save up to 30% on your rates throughout the year. Or, if your car is worth less than $2,000 you may want to drop collision insurance completely. Consider bundling your auto insurance with your homeowner's insurance to save even more.
Amount saved: $480 per year or more for a household with two cars

Properly Maintain Your Car

There isn't much you can do about the price you pay at the pump. However, there is a lot you can do to improve your gas mileage and make your car last longer. Check that your air filter is clean, your tires are properly inflated, and that your wheels are properly aligned to improve fuel economy by up to 55 cents per gallon and to help squeeze an extra year or so out of your car.
Total Savings: Up to $2000 per year for a household with two cars

Rethink Gift Giving

Most families spend around $1,000 on holiday purchases alone - not to mention other gift-giving occasions such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, and so on. When all is said and done, most families easily spend $2,000 a year on other people. You can actually cut that number in half while adding more meaning to your gift giving. Think about what friends and relatives would truly want from you. In some cases it might be a favor: watching their kids, pet sitting, or a phone call once a month. In other cases it could be simply spending time with them or cooking them a meal. Consider making more homemade gifts and cards. These things mean a lot but don't cost much. Start holiday shopping early so you have time to look for sales and cut your gift spending in half. Come up with a master list of all the occasions you want to remember this year and who you want to buy for. When you see a great deal, you can snap it up.
Total Savings: $1000 per year

Exercise the Old-Fashioned Way

It's pretty ironic that Americans spend millions on fitness equipment and gym memberships, but often hire out for services like lawn care and housecleaning. Instead of spending $75 or more per month in health club fees, exercise the old-fashioned way and do something productive at the same time. Household chores like mopping and vacuuming are great calorie burners. Outdoor chores like cutting grass, washing your car, raking leaves, and gardening burn nearly as many calories as a slow jog. Supplement your fitness routine by jumping rope or dancing with your kids and taking your dog for a run. You can also find free workouts on YouTube as well as fitness DVDs and videos from your library.
Total Savings: $900 per year

Debt

The average credit card debt among all American households is $8,400 - and the average interest rate is 18.9%*. Avoid paying high interest rates - and better yet: Make this the year you stop outspending what you earn. First, call your credit card company to negotiate a lower rate. If you have a good credit score (above 720) and have been a cardholder for longer than a year, the chances of lowering your rate are excellent. Next, make this the year you break the revolving debt cycle. Pay down your debt then get in the habit of paying off your credit card bill in full each month.
Total Savings: $800-$1500 per year

Focus on the Family: Limit Extracurricular Activities

Families today are overscheduled. While extracurricular sports and activities are important, spending time as a family is more important. If your kids are in several extracurricular activities, you may want to consider dropping a couple. In place of those activities, institute a family game night. Cutting back on 2 or 3 activities can help you save an extra $100 per month as well as strengthen your bond as a family.
Total Savings: $1200 per year

*Source: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/debt/debtguide2004/debt-trivia1.asp

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