Continue saving in your physician's office. Ask for samples, a voucher or a coupon.
"It's perfectly OK to ask for samples, especially if it's a new medication," De Monte says. "Some doctors can give you a seven-day, 14-day or a one-month supply as a trial. That would offset the cost and let you know if it works or not."
Ask about a generic version of your medication and check to see whether the prescription drug is available over the counter. "Some antihistamines and antacids are much cheaper purchased over the counter," De Monte says.
Before you get the prescription filled, shop around. "Call ahead and get a price quote, especially on a new medication," De Monte says. "Mail order can work, too, if you've tried the medication and know you're going to be on it for the long term. The savings can be enormous. You might get a three-month supply at a one-month co-pay, compared to a retail pharmacy."
Even though you shouldn't halve the dosage of your medications, sometimes you can get a prescription at double the dose without doubling the price; you can then use a pill splitter to cut the pills in half. Keep in mind, however, that coated or time-release pills should not be cut, De Monte says.
3. Car insurance
Cuts that cost you:
Remove a family member from your car insurance and, sure, your premium will go down. How much you'll save depends on the carrier. But even though many policies do cover a friend or neighbor who drives the car in a pinch, family members who drive should be named on the policy. The savings aren't significant anyway, says Kate Hollcraft, a spokeswoman for Allstate Insurance.
Worst-case scenario: You might not be covered in case of an accident. Also, your insurance company may drop you.
"Failure to list someone who is a regular driver could result in a loss of coverage because you were not honest in your dealings with us," Hollcraft says.
If you have a minor fender bender with no injuries, you may decide to leave your insurance agent in the dark to avoid an increase in insurance premiums. But that other driver who at first says he's OK could come back later and claim to be hurt.
"You never know when someone might sue you," Hollcraft says. "You want to make sure you've told your insurance company about an accident."
Cuts that count:
If you have towing coverage through a motor club and on your car insurance, nix the towing through your insurance carrier, Hollcraft says. If your old clunker isn't worth much, consider dropping the collision coverage, she adds. Your savings will vary depending on your carrier.
You can also find a payment plan to fit your budget. If you can afford to pay your premium every six months, you might save 10% compared with 12 monthly payments. On the other hand, if money is tight, maybe a monthly bill would help you budget, Hollcraft says.
Although teen drivers (and any drivers younger than 25) typically drive up the cost of car insurance, relief is available. Check with your car insurance carrier to see whether it offers a good-student discount. Other programs for young drivers also are available. For example, in many states State Farm offers a discount program called Steer Clear Safe Driver for parents insuring drivers younger than 25.
4. Home insurance
Cuts that cost you:
With a lower appraisal, you may be tempted to save money by reducing the insurance on your home and its contents. Savings will vary by insurance carrier and the value of your home.
Worst case scenario: If you have a home catastrophe, your insurance may not cover everything.
"Even if the value of your home has gone down, the cost to rebuild it has not," Hollcraft says. "The cost of wood and other building materials has not gone down. If you have a loss, you want your insurance to make you whole."
You may also be tempted to look for savings on the liability insurance that covers you if, say, someone trips and falls in your home. Again, your savings will vary. But being without liability insurance can also be troublesome.
"In many states, claimants can sue," Hollcraft says. "If you have insurance, the coverage will cover the lawsuit. If not, you'll have to cover the suit by selling assets."
Cuts that count:
Though you can't cut back on everything, you can find savings. If you raise the deductible on your homeowners insurance from $250 or $500 to $1,000, you might save as much as 25%, McCollum says. Just make sure you have the difference socked away in savings so you can pay it yourself if disaster strikes.
Finally, if your car, home and other insurance policies aren't with one carrier, look into the savings from consolidating. Most carriers offer a discount to customers who insure multiple cars, their home and other needs.
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