205 Ways to Save Money ( 3 )

205 Ways to Save Money - This is an excerpt from my first book, Life or Debt. You won't be able to use every tip, but you'll definitely be able to use some!



  1. Consider consolidation. Some insurance companies offer substantial discounts for insuring both your home and car. See if yours is one.
  2. Raise your deductibles. The easiest and fastest way to lower insurance bills is to raise deductibles. Going from a $250 to a $1,000 deductible can reduce your home or car coverage cost by 20%, and only takes about three minutes.
  3. Don’t buy credit life. These are gimmick policies that are basically life insurance that’s tied to specific debts, like a credit card or mortgage. Regular term life insurance is a much less expensive alternative.
  4. Don’t buy whole life insurance. Whole life, or permanent life insurance, combines a life insurance policy with an investment account. Unless you’re rich and need a permanent policy to help pay estate taxes, it’s generally a better idea to buy cheaper term coverage and do your own investing separately.
  5. Don’t insure your child’s life. The purpose of life insurance is to replace the earnings of a key breadwinner in the event of untimely death. While the death of a child is certainly a tragedy, it’s rarely a financial calamity. There are better investments you can make for a child.
  6. Shop your coverage. Whatever type of insurance you have, you should shop it every six months. This is a competitive business, and getting more so all the time. So pull out those policies and make sure you’re getting the best deal!
  7. Cancel your car coverage! This may seem like a strange idea, but if the cost of your annual comprehensive/collision coverage is more than 10% of the value of your car, you could consider dropping it. (Obviously you should never under any circumstances drive without liability!) For example, if you’re paying $500 in comp/collision premiums to cover a car that’s only worth $5,000, you’re at the 10% threshold. If the potential loss of $5,000 worth of car is worth not spending $500 every year, consider dropping the coverage. This is only an option if you don’t have a loan on the car, since lenders require you to maintain full coverage to protect their collateral.
  8. Flaunt your good driving record. If you’ve had no accidents or tickets during the last three years, make sure your rates reflect that. Most insurance companies don’t automatically lower your premiums when old citations fall away. You have to call and make them reduce your bill.
  9. Get what’s coming to you! Keep the following list of possible discounts available and ask for them all when you get car insurance quotes (many might be applicable to homeowners as well.) Accident-free, multiple cars, short mileage (usually less than 7,500 miles per year) good student, absent student (if your kid is away at school without their car, they might reduce your family rate), over 50, graduate of defensive driving course, nonsmoker, airbags, antilock brakes, automatic seatbelts and antitheft devices. Any of these possible discounts could save you money. And when you’re done reciting them to the insurance company, be sure and ask, “Did I leave anything out? Do you have any other ways for me to save money?”
  10. If you’re changing policies, make sure your new one is in effect before you drop your old one. This applies to every kind of coverage: health, life, homeowners and automotive.
  11. Get rid of PMI ASAP. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is normally required if you have less than 20% equity in your home. And it can easily cost $50 a month! As soon as you’re sure you’ve got the magic 20%, whether it’s by appreciation or paying off mortgage principal, call your lender and tell them you want out of PMI. Expect them to make you jump through hoops since they make tons of money from this coverage.
  12. If you’re going to buy travel insurance, make sure you only get coverages you need, like trip cancellation coverage. Policies insuring your luggage are normally so riddled with exceptions that they’re virtually useless.
  13. Don’t buy specialty insurance, like cancer coverage. Put your money into a good general health insurance policy instead.
  14. Keep health insurers honest. If you’re like most people, you pay no attention to your health coverage. So when your insurer messes up, which they frequently do, you don’t know it. For example, many policies have a deductible of $200 per person, $400 per family. But are you keeping track of when you reach those magic numbers? Don’t assume your insurance company is. Read and understand your policies and keep your own tally: you may need it for tax purposes anyway.
  15. Don’t let your doctor cost you money. If your health insurance provider agrees to pay 80% of covered procedures, that generally means they’ll pay 80% of what they think is reasonable for that procedure, not 80% of whatever it costs. So find out what your insurance company is willing to pay and if your doctor can do it for that amount.
  16. HMOs are normally the cheapest way to get health coverage. In the world of health, choosing your own doctors is an expensive alternative.


  1. Shop your banking services carefully. As banks consolidate, competition is decreasing and fees are increasing. Think about the services you need first, then call around and see who can deliver them for the least money. Do you do a lot of ATM transactions? Then you need a bank with lots of branches and ATM machines to avoid paying “foreign” ATM fees. Do you travel a lot? Then you want a bank with branches in the states you often visit. Do you need online banking? Find a bank that doesn’t charge for this convenience. Do you write just a few checks a month? Find a bank with a stripped-down inexpensive checking account. You get the picture. Think about what you need before you go shopping, and be sure you understand all the fees before you sign up. In general, you’re going to get better deals from smaller local banks rather than the biggies.
  2. Don’t use a bank! Instead, use a credit union. Credit unions generally offer lower rates on loans, higher rates on savings, and lower fees than commercial banks. To find one that will accept you as a member, ask your employer or open the yellow pages and make a few calls.
  3. Use only your bank’s ATM. Avoid fees to get to your own money!
  4. Don’t use a passbook savings account. These accounts are old-fashioned and pay very little interest. You’re much better off with your bank’s money market account. You’ll earn more interest, your money will be just as safe, and you’ll still be able to get to it at any time. For a little more interest with just a tiny bit more risk, consider money market mutual funds. These aren’t federally insured like bank money markets, but they’re normally plenty safe.
  5. Check your checks! There’s no law that says you have to buy checks and deposit slips from your bank. There are companies that will sell them to you for 50% less.
  6. Don’t pay fees to have a checking account. There are now online banks that will charge you nothing for your checking account, and even pay interest on it. Shop around, and you might even find the same with old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar banks. Eliminating the fee on your checking account could easily save you $100 a year.
  7. Be aware of fee changes. Did you know that banks most often mail notices of fee increases between Thanksgiving and Christmas? That’s because they know that you’re least likely to read it during that busy time. Don’t let them fool you. Read fee notices.
  8. Ask and you might receive. Years ago, Money Magazine called 10 credit card lenders and merely asked them to lower their interest rates. Three out of 10 did it! This could work in all areas of banking. If your bank is charging you high interest or high fees, try saying something like, “Gee, I’ve banked here for years, but I can get much better deals from your competitors. Can’t you lower (eliminate?) this fee (interest rate) so I don’t have to leave you?” You’d be surprised how often this simple tactic could work.
  9. Go direct! Direct deposit of money you receive and direct payment of bills you owe can save you postage, gas and hassle. And it could increase your interest earnings to boot. See what your bank offers and take advantage of it.
  10. Balance your checking account! Estimates of people who don’t bother to reconcile their checking accounts range from 6% to 20%. If you don’t keep track of what’s in your account, you should just carry cash. Because sooner or later, you’re going to be paying giant fees for bounced checks!
  11. Give yourself credit. If you’re going to have credit cards, get the best possible deals. If you pay off your balance every month, get a card with no fee. If you don’t, get the lowest possible interest rate, but don’t forget to include any annual fees in the interest price you’re paying. You can find good credit card deals in magazines like Money and Kiplinger, or online at web sites like www.bankrate.com and www.ramresearch.com. And, as you’ve learned from reading this book, remember that a life with no debt is always your best option.
  12. Be aware of “stealth” fees. Hidden fees abound in credit cards. They include fees for going over your credit limit, transferring your balance to another company and paying late. The only way you have of finding out about these fees is to call the issuer or read the microscopic print found on the original disclosure paperwork or monthly statements. You should also be aware that your card issuer can sell your account at any time to a company that will change every term you have including the interest rate. Be vigilant.
  13. Know the lingo. When we shop for credit cards, or any loans for that matter, the focus is always on the interest rate you’re being charged. While that’s obviously the main thing, it’s not the only thing. In the case of credit cards, you also need to inquire about “grace period.” That’s the period of time you have after using the card before the interest clock starts ticking. Twenty-one days is typical, but obviously the longer the better. You also need to know about all fees: the annual fee, and any possible fees that could occur on cash advances, late payments and balance transfers. Once you’ve uncovered all the costs, only then can you really compare apples to apples. ( repost.us )

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