Snippet #1 Cutting Your Grocery Bill Several avenues for saving on overall grocery bill expenses have been around for many years now. The “big box” grocery stores like Wal-Mart, Costco, and others can easily help you save 20% or more off your regular grocery store bill. Many people are reluctant to change their grocery store for various personal reasons. These range from not wanting to appear “low class”, to disliking crowds, to a misplaced sense of loyalty to their regular store. But the experience of millions shows that discount stores are frequented by people from all walks of life. Shopping at odd hours (easy, since many are open 24 hours a day) can solve the problem of bumping elbows. Buying in bulk may initially cost you more, but it definitely pays off over time, especially if you are bulk buying products you use regularly. One week you may find yourself spending a lot more money, but over subsequent weeks you’ll spend a great deal less. It’s really only fresh foods that need to be purchased weekly, and most other products can be purchased in bulk amounts that can save you hundreds over the course of a year. What you buy is just as much a determinant of how much you save as where you shop. Think of all the not-necessarily nutritious, non-essential food and drink items you purchase. Some people crave sugary cookies; others enjoy pie, ice cream, and other tasty treats. Some have a weakness for high calorie soft- drinks or alcohol. Not only are these foods bad for your bank balance, they’re also bad for your waistline and overall health. Even greater savings are possible by preparing more home cooked meals and eating out less, or by purchasing fewer take out or convenience foods. Many families are pushed for time, so it can be easy to go to the drive through once a week or more to pick up some quick, easy food. With a bit of preparation, it’s easy to avoid this temptation. Think about meals that can be prepared in advance or frozen. Many busy families do a lot of cooking on the weekend, so that during the week they can get a pre-prepared but home cooked meal out of the freezer and simply re-heat. The overall idea is to explore, be flexible, and change long-standing habits. A little thought and a willingness to be adventurous can keep you satisfied and fit, while keeping your wallet fat even when times are tough. This article is excerpted from the Skinny Report “Saving Money”. Skinny Reports offers a wide variety of information products on topics that matter to you. All Fact, No Fillers. You can download your copy of “Saving Money” by visiting http://www.SkinnyReports.com This article is available for free reprint on your site or newsletter, provided it is copied in its entirety, and the byline remains intact. Snippet #2 Check out Discount Stores Discount stores are often overlooked. In the past few years a number of Dollar Stores of one brand or another have opened up around the country. While many are quite popular, there are still people who don’t shop there due to the perception of low quality. However, just because something’s cheap or discounted, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good product. Shopping at major discount stores can net you major brand soap for a third of the cost of that purchased in a major grocery store. You can get a $2 tooth brush for less than a dollar or a mop that would cost nearly $10 elsewhere. It’s often also possible to find “damaged” food items, which really don’t have anything wrong with them, and which are on sale for prices unheard of in regular grocery stores. In smaller towns, the local feed store – originally developed for horse owners but now stocking almost everything under the sun – can help you save plenty. Major brand dog food in large quantities is often 10- 20% less than the price offered by a major grocery store. Clothing, garden tools, and much more are also on sale every day. Looking at online options, Craigslist continues to expand, and for good reason. It offers an unbelievable array of items for whatever people are willing to accept. It’s especially good for those odd items that you would have to scour antique stores for years to find, and the prices are usually much lower than such stores charge. Along that same line of thinking, but applying it to retail, thrift stores often sell “second-hand” clothing that has, in fact, never been worn. Sometimes it’s on the rack owing to the generosity of donors. Other times, it was just something that person had in the closet for a while and never wore. They take it to the thrift store to exchange for something else they prefer. Many other clothes may be pre-worn, but are still in next to new condition. Book and CD purchases are another possible arena where those who enjoy reading and music can save a lot. Alibris, Amazon, and other online venues offer steep discounts on books used and new. But offline used book stores, which often also carry CDs, provide another way to save on those odd titles that you will never see anywhere else. They’re fun, peaceful places that are rarely crowded, except in the largest cities. Strand Books in New York, for example, is three floors and it’s always packed with people. This article is excerpted from the Skinny Report “Saving Money”. Skinny Reports offers a wide variety of information products on topics that matter to you. All Fact, No Fillers. You can download your copy of “Saving Money” by visiting http://www.SkinnyReports.com This article is available for free reprint on your site or newsletter, provided it is copied in its entirety, and the byline remains intact. Snippet #3 Three Ways to Buy a Cheaper Car In the past it was hard to buy a car without draining your bank account or loading up on debt (in some cases both). However, for the first time in many years, the market actually works in favor of car buyers. Taking advantage of this only requires following a few simple guidelines. The first method is the natural and usual one: shop around. Of course, it’s important not to expect miracles. Many dealers both online or offline are so hungry for business now, and so overloaded with inventory, that they may even take a small loss just to get the car off the lot. Still, there’s a floor set by the price the manufacturer charges. The dealer can only budge so much before they have to say no. If you are determined to purchase a brand new car, it’s often a great idea to wait until a new model comes out, because the price of a brand new older model will often drop thousands of dollars at such a time. The second area for potential savings is one in which relatively few buyers are as knowledgeable as they might be: financing. Not only are inventory stocks high and dealers hungry, but interest rates on auto loans are currently very low and banks are eager for business from qualified borrowers. They’re likely to stay that way for some time to come, too, so there’s no need to rush out and get the first thing that looks good. You can take the time to do some research. One way the dealer can stay flexible on the price is by getting the financing end of the deal as well. In days past, that was ruinous for buyers. It meant paying several percentage points more, which was only necessary if you had really weak credit. The exceptions were low-interest deals on select models unless you wanted a set discount right off the top. But those models, no surprise, were the ones you may not have wanted. That’s why they carried the discount and not some other more popular model of car. Now, buyers are in the driver’s seat. Auto loans, despite the credit crunch, are still being offered to qualified buyers on very good terms from everyone with money to lend. That means interest rates are low overall from both banks and dealers. This works to your advantage. Suppose you have to decide between a 5.0% interest rate from the bank and 5.5% from the dealer. It sounds like a better deal to get financing from the bank, but if you’re being offered a discount on the car from the dealer, it is well worth it to do some simple math calculations first. On a $30,000 car paid back over 48 months the savings on interest works out to only about $10 per month, which is $480 over the lifetime of the loan. If you can save $1000 or more on the new car price when getting dealer financing, it’s worth it to go with the slightly higher interest rate. To find out the difference in your specific situation, just use a home loan mortgage calculator and plug in the numbers. It’s the same equation behind the scenes, so you can use the same software to judge how much you can save in various scenarios. This article is excerpted from the Skinny Report “Saving Money”. Skinny Reports offers a wide variety of information products on topics that matter to you. All Fact, No Fillers. You can download your copy of “Saving Money” by visiting http://www.SkinnyReports.com This article is available for free reprint on your site or newsletter, provided it is copied in its entirety, and the byline remains intact. Snippet #4 How to Lower Internet, Phone and TV Costs Many people spend a significant amount of money each month on communications and entertainment. That means paying for cable or satellite for TV, the phone, and an Internet connection. However, these bills can be lowered without missing out on these services. One basic choice for TV and/or Internet involves selecting between cable or satellite. Of course, there are more factors than cost involved. Some cable providers offer things that no satellite can, such as extremely high speed Internet. However, people are sometimes dazzled by numbers that will actually do them little good. As a result, they sometimes pay a higher price than necessary. For example, no satellite currently offers 10Mb download speeds for residential customers. But how often do you need to download a large file in a short time? Even at the much slower 1.5Mb speed (1.5 megabits per second) available on Wildblue’s satellite service you can download at roughly 10 megabytes per minute. This means that you can get very good surfing and download speeds with either, so you don’t have to sacrifice performance to cut costs. It’s only a problem if you watch a lot of streaming media online, but even so, most online videos allow you to load them before watching, so you don’t have a problem with lag anyway. Look at how much you’re downloading online each month. Some people lock themselves into superfast plans with heaps of download (or even unlimited download) when they only use a fraction of it. Keep track of your Internet usage, and you may find that you can get a substantially cheaper plan and still get the same level of service and usage. Phone bills are another medium-priced bill that can be reduced. It’s tougher, though, because land-line phone companies still face no competition within a geographic region. However, they are finally facing it from other sources, such as Internet and cell phone service providers. The key here is to ensure that you still get all the services you need solely from an Internet phone provider. Some don’t offer 911, for example, so you still need either a cell phone or a land line. There are often many different pricing options depending on your needs, so don’t let yourself be talked into more than what you generally use. For example, some may have message services built in, or will offer deals for international or long distance calls. These can be useful if you need them or use them a lot, but if not then sometimes it’s best to go with just a basic phone service that doesn’t have extras tied in, costing you month after month. This article is excerpted from the Skinny Report “Saving Money”. Skinny Reports offers a wide variety of information products on topics that matter to you. All Fact, No Fillers. You can download your copy of “Saving Money” by visiting http://www.SkinnyReports.com This article is available for free reprint on your site or newsletter, provided it is copied in its entirety, and the byline remains intact. Snippet #5 Easy Ways to Lower Home Prices There is one truly bright aspect to tough economic times. It’s now easier than ever to buy the home you’ve been wanting for less than ever before. It doesn’t require a college degree in mortgage finance or a real estate agent’s license, either. Just be prepared to do a little extra shopping and homework. Home prices have fallen 15-20% in many areas over the past two years, and in some they’re still going down. Many foreclosures are selling for half what they did only a year earlier. However, lending criteria have tightened, and for good reason. To get your dream home you will need to provide evidence of steady income and good credit, and having a decent deposit won’t hurt your chances either. Fortunately for buyers, since the home price is so much lower, the amount of income required and what qualifies as good credit are now within the reach of many more people. Potential buyers who in the past were shut out by high prices and the need to come up with 10-20% deposit can now enter the market. After all, a 20% deposit on $150,000 is a lot easier to come up with than a 20% deposit on $300,000. However, purchasing a home will require more flexibility, because the housing crunch has hit different areas in different ways. In some neighborhoods many homes stand empty, driving prices to lows not seen in a generation. This means it may be necessary to move in now and be willing to live (temporarily) in what looks like a depressed area. However, chances are good that in a few years, all those other homes will be sold and things will look normal again. Many people are afraid of high crime rates in areas where there are many empty homes, but a bit of common sense can protect you and your home against crime, especially if the neighborhood is overall a decent one. For singles, couples, and some families it’s worthwhile to consider relocating. Some areas have lower house prices and more vacancies than others, and yet have overall long term potential. Look around the country and you will soon find a location where homes are plentiful at low prices. But that means moving there, which might mean moving far from a familiar city or state. On the upside, since so many of these homes have come on the market, owners have moved or are seeking to relocate. That opens up the possibility of employment in the same area. If you do have some buffer against a short period of unemployment, or are willing to move into a rental prior to purchasing your home, relocating can be an exciting proposition for many. This article is excerpted from the Skinny Report “Saving Money”. Skinny Reports offers a wide variety of information products on topics that matter to you. All Fact, No Fillers. You can download your copy of “Saving Money” by visiting http://www.SkinnyReports.com This article is available for free reprint on your site or newsletter, provided it is copied in its entirety, and the byline remains intact.