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15 simple ways to save thousands of dollars

Find out which month is the best time to buy a new TV.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 2:05AM

This post comes from Will Chen at partner blog Wise Bread.

The March issue of Real Simple magazine had a fantastic feature called "71 ways to spend smarter." With the magazine's permission, I'm sharing 15 of my favorite tips from that issue.

March is the best time to buy a new TV. You can save an extra 15% if you buy your TV in March. New TV models usually come out in March, which means retailers will be clearing out their old inventory to make way for the newest items.

If March isn't a good time, the day after Thanksgiving is the second best time to do your TV shopping. Of course, you can easily cut out TV altogether by watching your favorite shows on your computer

Find the best deals in the supermarket. Don't buy products placed right at your eye level. That's where the most expensive products are. Companies know that's where you'll look first, so they pay supermarkets a hefty premium to place their most expensive products right where you're most likely to look.

Look up or down instead. That's where you'll find the store brands, which are usually just as good.

Forget the 3,000-mile oil change rule. About 95% of drivers change oil too frequently, according to a AAA survey. The 3,000-mile rule is a myth. Unless your car gets heavy usage like a taxi, most cars can wait 7,500 miles, says Perry Stern, editor at MSN Autos.

Amy Schiff from our forums says you can save even more by changing your own oil: "The bonus is you don't have to listen to the Jiffy Lube guy try to sell you extra services like changing the air filter for $16 when the part itself literally costs only $5."

Get the best grocery buys at warehouse stores. Strip steak costs $5.99 a pound at warehouse stores versus $11.49 a pound at the supermarket. Stock up because there are plenty of ways to enjoy that bargain meat.

Another great buy is canned tomatoes, which are 45 cents a pound at the warehouse stores versus $1.14 a pound at the supermarket.

Don't splurge on fancy toothbrushes. The American Dental Association says budget toothbrushes are effective tools for cleaning your teeth.

Pricier toothbrushes with fancy ridged bristles aren't necessarily better. The real key is to avoid a toothbrush with hard, stiff bristles, which can cause enamel erosion and receding gums. The best option is a soft brush with bristles that have rounded ends.

The oscillating, rotating electric toothbrushes are better for your teeth than manual ones for reducing plaque and gingivitis, but the benefits are modest.

You don't need designer reading glasses. If you need only low-magnification nonprescription glasses to read, the cheap $15 glasses you can get at the drugstore will be as effective as the $125 designer glasses. If the cheaper glasses feel comfortable on you, there's no need to spend a fortune.

Share a baby sitter with a neighbor. Besides saving you money, this arrangement also gives your kid a built-in playmate. Visit our sister blog Parenting Squad for detailed instructions on how to set up a baby-sitting co-op.

Fix windshield chips immediately. A small chip can easily lead to a full crack. Small chips cost $100 to fix. Cost of replacing a windshield? About $500 to $1,200. Ouch. Check your car insurance policy. Many of them offer free chip repair.

Negotiate lower fees with your health care providers. According to a 2005 Harris poll, two-thirds of people who asked for their medical fees to be lowered were successful.

The medical billing system has a lot of wiggle room for price adjustments. Always ask if discounts are available before the procedure. Offering to pay in cash can also save you up to 30% off your bill. Ask for the "prompt-pay discount." For more ideas, check out Wise Bread's comprehensive guide to getting the most out of your health care dollar.

Eat an apple a day for whiter teeth. Snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and celery can help you maintain a dazzling smile.

Need more whitening power? You can do an at-home treatment once a week. Add just enough hydrogen peroxide to a little baking soda to form a paste. Brush with this paste to get rid of unsightly discoloration.

Get together once a year for a clothing swap. Real Simple reader Kelsey Hughes gets together with her friends once a year for a clothing swap. It is a good excuse to clear out the closet and get some new clothes for yourself.

Best part? Everyone goes home feeling as if they've had a full day of exciting shopping without spending a dime.

Carry information you need for a medical emergency. Quick access to your medical background is crucial for getting the best emergency care. That's why you should always carry a medical card in your wallet behind your driver's license. (Paramedics will always check there.)

Write down information such as:

  • medications and vitamins you're taking.
  • any allergies.
  • major surgeries or illness.
  • contact information of your doctors.
  • contact information of your family members.

Swap your latte for a misto. A misto is brewed coffee with steamed milk (as opposed to espresso with steamed milk). They generally cost about $1 less than regular lattes.

If you just want something hot and sweet, try steamed milk with a shot of flavored syrup.

No one will judge you for ditching bad gifts. My favorite tip comes from our good friend Erin Rooney Doland of Unclutterer, who also blogs at Real Simple: How many of us are afraid to throw away tacky gifts for fear of offending someone? Erin says forget about it. She's throwing out stuff all the time and no one has ever called her out on it.

So relax. That classic clown lamp your uncle gave you 10 years ago? It's time to let it go. He won't mind.

Here are a few related tips to help you find more zen in your uncluttering efforts:

Store digital cameras in a travel soap case. Plastic travel soap cases and Altoids tins are great for storing small electronic devices like cameras and MP3 players. 

Keep in mind that these cases offer protection only against scratches and minor bumps. And as a helpful reader at The Consumerist pointed out, hiding electronics in unusual places may sometimes attract unwanted attention from the TSA.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. If you see the March issue of Real Simple at the supermarket, pick it up and give it a scan. It is well worth your time.

Related reading at Wise Bread:

Published Feb. 26, 2009


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