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LifeScript.com, a Mission Viejo-based women's health Web site published a special report detailing 100 ways to save money on health care.
The report tells readers how to save on prescriptions and health insurance, purchase discounted massages and other health services and make healthy food, beauty and travel decisions.
LifeScript.com, a Mission Viejo-based women's health Web site published a special report detailing 100 ways to save money on health care. The report tells readers how to save on prescriptions and health insurance, purchase discounted massages and other health services and make healthy food, beauty and travel decisions.
Schwartz Communications, Inc. September 15, 2009 100 Money-Saving Health Tips By Kathy Passero Your family’s health is a priority. But so is holding the line on costs. Lifescript scoured the country for free and deeply discounted deals on everything from doctors’ visits to grocery shopping. Read on for 100 money-saving tips… As the family’s chief financial officer, women need to pinch pennies any place they can. As its medical CEO, they’re also responsible for keeping everyone — from the kids, to parents and husbands — healthy. But these days, medical bills are gobbling up a bigger share of household budgets. In fact, about 28% of middle-income families are having trouble paying for health care and insurance, according to a 2008 Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Is it possible to save money on the things we need most? Yes! Lifescript consulted physicians, expert penny-pinchers and bloggers for their best money-saving secrets. Then we threw in our own bargain-hunting strategies. Here are 100 ways to save a health buck — or even a Benjamin or two. You’ll get advice on where to find low-cost medical services, eating healthy on the cheap and how to look good for less. You’ll feel like a million bucks – without having to spend it. Save on medical care 1. Vaccinate for free: If your kids are on Medicaid, not insured or underinsured (meaning your health plan doesn’t cover shots), they can get free vaccinations from the federal government’s Vaccines for Children Program. Details are at www.CDC.gov. Schwartz Communications, Inc. 2. Join a clinical trial: Many medical studies need people for research on chronic diseases, such as diabetes, or common ailments, such as allergies. You’ll get free medication and treatment. In some cases, you’ll be paid. A database of federally funded and private medical trials is at ClinicalTrials.gov. 3. Attend a health fair: Many health fairs offer free or reduced-rate screenings. You'll get important information about blood pressure or cholesterol levels that may help avoid diabetes and other diseases, says organizer Fiona Gathright of Wellness Corporate Solutions. 4. Get low-cost ob-gyn checkups: Women can get inexpensive ob-gyn care and contraception at one of the 880 Planned Parenthood clinics around the country. Find one near you at PlannedParenthood.org. 5. Find free screenings: The Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act provides low-income or uninsured women with free or low-cost mammograms, pap tests, pelvic exams and diagnostic testing if results are abnormal. Find a clinic near you at the Centers for Disease Control Web site. 6. Ask for a discount: Ask about doctors fees in advance and offer to pay cash for a discount, says economist Devon Herrick, who has studied health care issues for the National Center for Policy Analysis. A new Web site, PriceDoc.com, helps consumers find better pricing. (It’s available in Seattle and is launching nationwide in November.) Also, bargain down a hefty hospital bill if paying will cause a hardship. “Hospitals and doctors will work with you so they don’t lose their ability to collect,” says Kathleen Stoll, deputy executive director of Families USA, a health care consumer organization based in Washington, D.C. 7. Shop for lab work: Call labs for prices. Paying upfront and/or filing insurance forms yourself may save a bundle, Herrick says. Or go online to providers like MyMedLab.com and BloodWorksUSA.com. “The hospital may be five times more expensive than a comparable lab.” 8. Avoid ERs: If you have health insurance and don’t have a life-threatening medical emergency, a same-day doctor’s appointment is a better, cheaper option. The national average for an ER visit is about $1,000; an average doctor’s office visit is $60, says a spokeswoman for CIGNA Health Care. If you don’t have health insurance, the ER is your best bet. Many hospitals are required to treat uninsured patients to get federal subsidies. 9. Cut office visit costs: Local retail clinics or telemedicine services such as TelaDoc.com can cost half as much as traditional office visits. TelaDoc charges about $35 per phone consultation, economist Herrick says. 10. Have in-office procedures: Minor surgeries are cheaper in an office or ambulatory center, but some doctors prefer higher-priced hospitals, often for their own convenience, Schwartz Communications, Inc. economist Herrick says. Save thousands by finding doctors with their own office operating room. 11. Try therapy by the minute: For $1.60 per minute, you can talk to a social worker, marriage counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist through MyTherapyNet. The site promises to connect you with a mental health professional within 20 minutes for an instant messaging e-therapy session. 12. Seek surgery outside U.S.: Medical treatments in other countries are only a fraction of the cost charged by U.S. providers, according to the “Rise of Medical Tourism” by Grail Research. The average cost of knee replacement surgery in the U.S. was $40,000 in 2007; in Thailand it was $10,000. But beware: The report warns “it’s not all roses,” with legal issues related to bad outcomes, follow-up treatment, insurance coverage or language barriers. 13. Get touched: Need a good rub? Many massage schools provide low-cost rubdowns to the public for half of what you’d pay at a day spa. Search for schools near you at the American Massage Therapy Association Web site. Save on prescriptions 14. Get free samples: Ask your doctor for free samples of your regular medicines. Dermatologists may also have freebies of face creams, cleansers and sunscreens. Eye doctors often give out free contact lens cleaners. 15. Go generic: Ask your doctor or pharmacist about generic and cheaper brand medications. They're about 30%-75% less than newer drugs and may be just as effective, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield. 16. Mail it in: If your insurance plan covers them, mail-order prescriptions may be almost 30% cheaper than your local pharmacy, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy. Plus, you’ll save on car trips for refills by getting a 90-day supply. Take advantage of specials: Buy two months’ worth and get one free. 17. Cash for care: The Caregivers Marketplace offers cash rebates on many health products, including pain relievers, foot care and vitamins, says Beeb Ashcroft, editor of SuperCouponGirl.com. Enroll online for a free savings number. Whenever you purchase an eligible product, save the receipts. Once you’ve saved five, fill out a form, mail in your receipts (keep a copy for yourself) and get your check in 4-6 weeks. You can save 25 cents to $1 on eligible name-brand products (minimum five products, no maximum). 18. Take a cheap shot: Drugstores and grocery stores offer flu vaccines for about $25 — cheaper than at the doctor’s office. Some, like CVS and Walgreens, are offering free vaccines for a limited time to seniors or those who are unemployed. Schwartz Communications, Inc. 19. DIY testing: Save money on medical tests at clinics and drugstores, which offer such low-cost screenings and tests as do-it-yourself blood pressure cuffs, cholesterol screenings and HbA1c blood glucose tests for diabetics. Pocket the $60 — the average cost of a doctor’s visit. 20. Scour diabetes deals: If you have diabetes, you know that a blood glucose monitor can cost $10-$100. Ask if your doctor has free samples or check the manufacturer’s Web site. Some monitor makers, like Abbott Laboratories (MyFreeStyle.com), may throw in a free monitor if you register on the site. An added membership bonus: coupons, discounts and online consultations with certified diabetes educators. 21. Join drugstore clubs: Ask your pharmacist or check your drugstore’s Web site for prescription savings clubs. Walgreens’ program provides discounts on more than 5,000 brand and generic medications — it doesn’t matter if you don’t have insurance — and lets you earn rewards for other Walgreens products and services. (Annual membership fees are $20 per person or $35 per family.) BJs Wholesale Clubs’ free Physician’s Rx Care Discount Card can save an average of 15% on brand medications and up to 46% on generics. 22. Get online coupons: Many drug makers offer coupons on their Web sites or on Drugzoo.com (most offer $10-$25 off). For instance, get $35 off on the migraine med Zomig at Zomig.com or a free 30-day trial of the cholesterol-lowering statin Liptor at Lipitor.com. Lipitor also offers a card that lowers co-pays costs. 23. Choose a high deductible: If you’re young, healthy and don’t anticipate major medical costs, a high-deductible plan can cut your premium to as low as $75 a month, says Sam Gibbs, consumer expert with eHealthInsurance.com. But make sure you have enough cash to cover the out-of-pocket amount. 24. Tap into freebies: Almost all health insurance plans offer free services, education and tools, including phone lines staffed by nurses 24/7 or discounts on gym memberships and equipment. Check out your network’s Web site or call the member services number on the back of your insurance card. 25. Question insurance claims: If your insurance claim is rejected, appeal it immediately. Call your doctor’s office to make sure the procedure cost code is correct. Call the insurance carrier to verify that they’ve correctly processed the claim. Insurance claim errors can increase your costs by 50% or more. If necessary, go to your state health insurance commission with your complaint. (Listings are by state at ConsumerAction.gov.) 26. Know your network: You can save thousands by confirming that your doctors and hospitals are in your health plan’s provider network. Check your provider’s Web site for lists of in-network health professionals. If you’re planning an elective procedure, ask in advance if all physicians involved are in-network. If not, request ones who are. Schwartz Communications, Inc. 27. Get tax deductions: Save your receipts for tax purposes. Medical expenses over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income are deductible if you file an itemized tax return. 28. Save in numbers: If you’re self-employed, investigate health care plans offered by associations or professional groups. Large organizations get volume discounts that they pass on to members. 29. Sign up for savings: If your employer offers a medical flexible-spending plan, enroll. You can set aside a fixed amount of pre-tax money from your paycheck every week and “reimburse” yourself for health care not covered by insurance. Your flex spending account is deducted from your gross income — the amount you’re taxed on — which can also lower your taxes. 30. Shop for insurance: If you’re buying your own plan or if your employer offers multiple options, comparison shop. Find out which company offers the most comprehensive coverage for the lowest price. Make a list of services you’ll probably use based on prior experience and compare the total cost of premiums, co-pays and out-ofpocket expenses for services the plan doesn’t cover. Save on eye care 31. Check-up for free: Need an eye exam? Eyecare America, an arm of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers free eye disease diagnosis and care for some seniors and children, as well as those with some diseases, including glaucoma and diabetes. For more information call (800) 222-3937 or visit EyeCareAmerica.org. 32. Eyeglasses under $10: Prescription eyeglasses start at $7.95 at e-tailer EyeBuyDirect.com. Upload a headshot to try a few different styles, then plug in your prescription from a drop-down menu. Special prescriptions such as bifocals will cost more. You'll also pay for shipping and handling. But overall prices are lower at your neighborhood optometrist. 33. Use member discounts: Leading eyeglass retailers LensCrafters and Pearle Vision offer 30% off eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses for AARP or AAA members (cannot be used with insurance or vision care plans). Save on dental care 34. Clean your toothbrush: To kill germs that cause colds and flu, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a cup and let your toothbrush sit overnight once a week. Hydrogen peroxide and water work too. So does immersing the brush in boiling water for five minutes. Replace your toothbrush every three months and ask your dentist for free ones at visits. 35. Whiten for less: Can’t afford professional whitening in a dental office? DIY with Crest Whitening Strips, which are recommended by Toronto dentist Uche Odiatu, Schwartz Communications, Inc. D.M.D., author of The Miracle of Health (Wiley) and Fitdentist.com. Just follow directions carefully. 36. Find a clinic: Can’t afford to get that cavity filled? Call the dental school of your local university. You’ll be treated by residents under the supervision of experienced dentists and faculty. You can search for free or low-cost ways to keep your pearly whites healthy through organizations like National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped or Remote Area Medical. Save on diet and fitness 37. Shape up virtually: At $30 a month minimum, gym memberships, personal trainers and yoga classes can be pricey. But you can find free online workouts from certified trainers at the iTunes store, YouTube or Netflix. Or record a fitness TV show, says Carla Birnberg, MizFitOnline blogger, former bodybuilder and fitness competitor. Either way, you'll find a wide range of workouts, from high-impact cardio to yoga and gentle sit-andstretch. 38. BMI asap: Check your body mass index (BMI) online for free at Lifescript.com. It instantly calculates your BMI and shows where you fall in the normal-to-obese range. You'll also find seven more health and fitness tools, and can sign up for daily diet and fitness newsletters. 39. Online support: Track your weight-loss progress for free at StartYourDiet.com or FatSecret.com. You can keep an electronic food journal and share tips and moral support with other dieters. 40. Work out at home: Tone body parts with household items, says Lifescript Chief Diet and Fitness Expert Jorge Cruise. Use a simple, flat-seated chair, for instance, to firm up your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes in a chair squat. Check out Jorge's other home workouts. Or build muscle with weights found in the pantry, MizFitOnline’s Birnberg suggests. Do bicep curls with small soup cans, working your way up to “family-sized extra-chunky variety.” 41. Hit the dollar store: You’ll find cheap exercise equipment such as jump ropes, hula hoops and fitness DVDs, MizFitOnline’s Birnberg says. 42. Walk the mall: Doors open early in many malls around the country to allow walkers to exercise indoors. It’s free, temperature-controlled and you might meet new walking buddies. 43. Join a 5K or 10K. Get motivated to train daily by signing up for a 5K or 10K walk or run. For a list of upcoming races in your area, search at Active.com, RunThePlanet.com or RunningInTheUSA.com. Save on healthy eating Schwartz Communications, Inc. 44. Make more meatless meals: “The costliest part of a meal is the protein: meat, fish, chicken, cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt or soy,” says Linda S. McDonald, M.S., R.D., founder of SupermarketSavvy.com. So build dinners around non-meat protein sources such as beans, eggs and soy products. They’re cheaper than meat, healthy and give you the same energy boost. And with beef prices jumping by more than 50% from 2007 to 2008, according to the Boston Globe, steak dinners and burgers are costlier than ever. If you must have meat, save with bone-in chicken and tough cuts, such as shoulder or brisket, that need longer cooking. 45. Chop at home: Prepackaged products are fine when you’re time-crunched, but they always cost more. Bagged romaine lettuce runs $3.79 for 10 ounces ($0.38/oz.), while a head of the greens is only $1 ($0.06/oz); pre-shredded carrots are $1.99 for 8 ounces ($0.25/oz.); whole carrots are $0.07 for a pound ($0.05/oz.). Shredding your own cheese brings similar savings. 46. Forget brand loyalty: Brand name products usually cost more than generics and are often just as good. But check ingredients lists to ensure they’re equal to what you usually buy. If you have a favorite brand, stock up when there’s a coupon or in-store promotion. Check the manufacturer’s Web site for coupons and promotions. 47. Try two-for-one meals: Make several meals from one healthy product. Julie Languille, owner of the online meal planner DinnersinaFlash.com, often roasts a chicken to get three meals. She boils the bones to make stock for soup and risotto. 48. Shelf strategize: Look on the lowest and highest grocery shelves. That’s where bargains tend to hide. Stores generally put the costliest items at eye level. 49. Shop the sales: Look for manager’s specials, which are unadvertised, last-minute deals on food nearing expiration, says Julie Parrish, co-founder of HotCouponWorld.com and OrganicGroceryDeals.com. Sometimes you’ll find two for the price of one. 50. Haggle: The more you buy, the more you save, says Parrish of OrganicGroceryDeals.com. Whole Foods, for example, offers a 10% discount on a case of anything. At supermarkets, you can often get 10% off a case of wine and negotiate on day-old bread and other expired foods. 51. Take a rain check: If the supermarket is out of a sale item, ask for a rain check. It guarantees you’ll get the lower price when the store restocks the missing item, even if the sale is over. 52. Do the math: Bigger isn’t always cheaper. Check the unit price on a bulk product to see if it’s really a bargain, says McDonald of SupermarketSavvy.com. Take a calculator, pen and small notepad to help you do the math easily. 53. Go clubbing: Many grocery stores have loyalty club cards with discounts, buy-one- Schwartz Communications, Inc. get-one-free (BOGO) deals and coupons tailored to your shopping habits. Scan your card at checkout to get the latest deals. Or earn freebies or members-only deals. 54. Clip and save: Don’t use grocery coupons right away. Save them until items go on sale to boost your savings, suggests Teri Gault, founder of TheGroceryGame.com. And never buy a product just because you have a coupon. Buy it only if and when you need it. 55. Compare the wares: When using coupons, don’t forget to compare the coupon discount to the store brand’s equivalent product; the generic may still be cheaper. 56. Markdowns rule: Choose this week’s meals from what’s on sale, TheGroceryGame.com's Gault advises. Buy healthful, low-fat items that are marked down. 57. Be late: Shop the deli counter shortly before the supermarket closes. Stores sometimes slash prices on fresh pasta salads and similar dishes rather than throw them away. If you can’t find a dinner food, get something for lunch the next day. You’ll save the trouble of preparing a bagged lunch, the food will still be fresh and it’s one less meal to buy. 58. Eat in season: Buy fruits and veggies in season — they’re not only cheaper at their peak, but they’re also the freshest, ripest and healthiest. Cherries, for example, plummet from more than $9 per pound out of season at supermarkets to $3 or less per pound in summer. Don’t know what’s in season? Find out at the Produce for Better Health Foundation Web site. 59. Go co-op: Join a food co-operative in your area and take advantage of discounts on fruits, veggies and other healthful items offered only to members. Find one near you at Coop Directory Service. 60. Be farm friendly: Sign up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, where locals pay a portion of an organic farm’s operating expenses in exchange for free deliveries of the harvest. Find one near you at the Local Harvest Web site. 61. Grow your own: Plant a vegetable and herb garden. Playing in the dirt is good exercise and therapeutic. Growing your own is also inexpensive. No space? Fresh basil, rosemary and mint can flourish in sunny windowsill pots. 62. Buy in bulk: Whenever unperishable grocery items go on sale, stock up. Organize your cupboards so you can find them easily and won’t overbuy. 63. Watch the register: Grocery price scanners aren’t always accurate — they have an error rate of about 2.5%, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And clerks don’t always know about all the promotions in their stores. Keep an eye on prices as they’re scanned or scan it yourself. Schwartz Communications, Inc. 64. Skip quick shops: Avoid convenience stores like the swine flu. Sure they’re handy, but you’re paying for the convenience. Bread and milk can sometimes cost twice as much as grocery-store brands. 65. Turn it topsy-turvy: Store opened containers of food upside down in your refrigerator to prevent spoilage and so contents stay fresh longer. (Mold spores start where air comes in contact with food.) Just make sure they don’t leak. 66. Milk it: Use powdered fat-free milk for cooking and baking. It’s cheaper than fresh, easier to store and lasts longer. 67. Acceptable substitutes: Exchange expensive recipe ingredients with more affordable ones — imitation crab for shrimp and imitation vanilla extract, for example. 68. Cook and freeze: Cook in quantity on weekends. Make a pot of soup, a lasagna or veggie-filled casserole that you can freeze and pop in the oven on a weeknight. It’s easier than cooking a healthy meal after a long work day and cheaper than buying frozen meals or takeout. Save on healthy restaurant meals 69. Buy lunch, not dinner: Dine out for lunch instead of dinner. It’s cheaper and less crowded, especially on weekends. Plus, lighter meals are easier on your wallet and waistline. Restaurants sometimes offer "blue-plate" specials in the afternoon. 70. Use doggy bags: Ask for a takeout container at the beginning of restaurant meals. Put half away, then relax and enjoy what’s left on your plate. Your portion will be a healthier size, so you’ll save calories and money when you take the leftovers home for the next day’s meal. Save on healthy traveling 71. BYO snacks: When you go to the movies or sports games, take a small Ziplock bag of popcorn sprinkled with low-cal parmesan and a small empty bottle of water that you can fill up at the drinking fountain. Don’t even think about hitting the concession stand. You’ll overspend and overeat. 72. Ask for a fridge: When you travel, ask the hotel for a mini in-room refrigerator. It can provide one for free or a small fee. You’ll save money on bottled drinks and avoid the cost and calories of room service. If you can’t get one, pack healthy foods that don’t need to stay cold, like low-fat breakfast bars and apples. Save on healthy beauty Schwartz Communications, Inc. 73. Stretch your shampoo: Lather your hair once, not twice. Cut back on conditioner too: Apply only to the middle and ends of your hair, where it tends to be driest — not to your scalp. 74. Make your own conditioner: Mix a tablespoon of cider vinegar in warm water, pour it over your hair after shampooing, then rinse. Beauty pros swear it leaves your hair shinier than drugstore brands. 75. Try kitchen treatments: Turn low-cost kitchen staples into at-home beauty treatments. Reduce puffiness and dark under-eye circles, for example, with two chilled, damp tea bags on closed lids for 20 minutes. Why spend $20 on body scrubs? Blend honey with brown sugar or olive oil with granulated sugar, then use it on dry spots on arms and legs. 76. Recycle to get freebies: Makeup recycling programs offer freebies for supporting earth-friendly causes. Origins stores, for example, recently installed recycling bins for empty canisters and tubes of all cosmetics brands. Each month, the company hands out free products as a thank you. “M.A.C.’s Back to M.A.C.” program offers a free lipstick in your favorite shade when you ship back six empty containers of MAC cosmetics. 77. Get mail-in salon deals: Get on the email and snail-mail lists of your favorite salons to receive discounts, coupons and other special offers. 78. Trim hair costs: Get maintenance trims at discount salons between expensive visits to pricier hair stylists. Limit "luxury" cuts to every four months. Have the discount shop stylist follow the style lines you have. Ask if your regular stylist will trim bangs for free between cuts - many do to keep long-time clients happy. 79. Scope out weekday bargains: If you can’t break your mani-pedi addiction, schedule them for Mondays through Wednesdays, when business is slower and deals are easier to find. Some salons, for example, offer a mani-pedi combo for $14-$17 those days. 80. Be loyal: If you get your nails done regularly, choose a salon with a loyalty program that offers discounts or a free manicure for frequent clients. 81. Chill nail polish: Store nail polish in the refrigerator so it will last longer. The cold prevents it from getting thick and goopy. 82. Save at drugstores: Why spend $40 on department-store mascaras when you can have lovely lashes for less? Drugstore lash care can cost as little as $10 at Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Costco and others. Professional makeup artist Ann Orcutt swapped seven pricier brands (foundation, blush, mascara, eye liner, lip gloss, lip liner and finishing powder) for Maybelline and Neutrogena products. The total was just over $66. "High-end versions would have cost upward of $175 easily," Orcutt said in a New York Times article. Schwartz Communications, Inc. 83. Sample savings: “Combining coupons with store sales can often snag you personalcare items like deodorant, shampoo or toothpaste for free or pennies,” says Ashcroft of SuperCouponGirl.com. Visit coupon Web sites to learn strategies. Her favorites: HotCouponWorld.com, MoneySavingMom.com, CommonSenseWithMoney.com and DealSeekingMom.com. 84. Train students: Craigslist and Yelp often list local salons and beauty schools that offer free haircuts, colorings and highlights on certain days. But have patience: These sessions generally take longer because supervisors need to check trainees’ work. 85. Swap and meet: Host a clothing exchange. Invite all your friends to bring gently used or never-worn items. The sweater that never fit you properly might be perfect for a friend. Donate whatever is left over to charity. 86. Get organized: List the clothing you really need — a new pair of workout pants, brown heels and so on. Whenever you go clothes shopping, bring your “to-buy” list and stick to it — just like you do at the grocery store. A sale dress you don’t need is a waste of money. 87. Surf the Web: Bookmark “Sale” and “Outlet” pages on your favorite e-tailers’ Web sites. Some offer discounts up to 80% off standard prices. Check them every few weeks to see if items on your "to-buy" list are on sale. Bookmarking makes it easier to skip fullprice items and go directly to the bargains. 88. Don’t skip shipping: When you order from a catalog or e-tailer, calculate shipping costs into your total purchase price. Other points to consider: Is shipping free for orders exceeding a certain amount? Is there a restocking or reshipping fee if you return or exchange the item? 89. Get on the e-list: Sign up for emails from e-tailers you use often. Many send discounts, coupons and free shipping offers regularly. 90. Make it hard: Don’t store your credit card information at online stores. It makes impulse buying too easy. 91. Stick to basics: Don’t buy a closet full of shoes like “Sex in the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw. Instead, buy a few affordable pairs of simple, comfortable pumps in basic colors such as black and taupe. To jazz them up, purchase cheap frills such as clip-on buckles and bows from Payless or Target, suggests Kathryn Finney, founder of TheBudgetFashionista.com. 92. Get a year-round coat: Buy an all-weather coat with a removable lining so you can wear it through all the seasons (spring, fall and winter with the lining; summer without), The Budget Fashionista’s Finney advises. Schwartz Communications, Inc. 93. Ditch the dry cleaning: Don’t buy clothes that need dry cleaning. And if you must, know this: Not all clothing needs to be dry cleaned after each use. Sweaters, for example, can be worn several times before needing a trip to the cleaners. The average American woman shells out $1,500 per year on dry cleaning, according to 2008 research by Procter & Gamble. Worse, 65% of dry-cleaned clothes are machine-washable. 94. Check coupons, send emails: Before you go shopping, check for coupons at the store’s or manufacturer’s Web site, Google (search for the item you need) or sites such as RetailMeNot.com, TheCouponMom.com, TheCouponClippers.com and Boodle.com. If you can’t find one, email the company a short message to tell them how much you enjoy their product. Many will send you a thank-you message with coupons. 95. Cash in the card: Use gift cards and certificates promptly. Americans exchange about $66 billion in cards every year, according to Tower Group research. But about $20 billion is never spent. With so many retailers struggling and bankruptcies common today, your gift card might be a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. 96. Visit vintage stores: Check out thrift stores, vintage clothing shops and eBay listings. You’ll often find fashionable near-new or never-worn items for a steal, usually under $10. 97. Price check at scanners: Many department stores, such as Macy’s, offer unadvertised discounts that show up only on scanners, not on the price tag. 98. Jot down costs: Stash a notepad in your purse to write down every purchase, alphabetically or by date. Next time you reach for a product, compare its price to what you paid last time. It’s a good way to know whether it’s an okay buy or a great deal. If it’s the latter, stock up. 99. Do the coupon research: Find out whether your favorite stores honor competitors’ coupons or expired coupons. Many national chains, such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, do. 100. Treat yourself: We all need a pick-me-up, especially when we’re penny-pinching. So drop all your loose change into a jar. At the end of the month, convert the coins to cash and pamper yourself. You’ll feel better about scrimping the rest of the month if you can look forward to a healthy treat. Additional reporting by contributor Fran Golden and the Lifescript editorial staff Do You Know How To Budget Your Money? Are you one of those people with the proverbial hole in her pocket, or are you keeping your purse strings pulled tight? Take this quiz to find out if your books are in order or if you are being bulldozed by your bills. Check out Health Bistro for more healthy food for thought. See what Lifescript editors are talking about and get the skinny on latest news. Share it with your friends (it’s free to sign up!), and bookmark it so you don’t miss a single juicy post! Schwartz Communications, Inc.
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