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Money

-Pay attention to how you spend your loose change. Limit the amount of cash and coins you carry, and you’ll plug one of the biggest financial leaks in most Americans’ pockets.

-Write a letter instead of making a costly long-distance call. Everyone loves to get letters, and maybe you’ll get one back. Letters become keepsakes of cherished friendships in a way that phone calls can’t.

-Stop pouring money into vending machines, espresso stands and fast-food lunches. Bring a thermos of coffee and store-bought snacks to save at least $10 a week (average person). Bring your own lunch occasionally. Two brown-bag lunches a week save the average worker more than $325 a year (assuming a $4.50 restaurant meal).

-Take an hour and start a savings plan today without noticeably reducing your spending. Write down your monthly income. Subtract from this all fixed expenses and variable expenses. (Pick the average of the past two to three months.) The remainder is money you’ll probably fritter on donuts, so pick a fixed amount of it and write a check to savings before paying bills each month.

-The experts all agree -- the fastest way to earn 14% to 21% on your money is to pay off your outstanding credit card balances. Use a portion of your savings if necessary. Credit card interest is devouring the interest earned on those savings, anyway.

-Put away just $25 a month at 8%, and leave it alone. In 30 years, you will have $45,000! Pretty good for less than $1 a day!

-Have only one credit card, and make it’s a no-fee, low-interest card. This simplifies record-keeping and bill-paying, and saves trouble if your wallet is lost or stolen. Don’t charge anything (except in true emergencies) before asking “Will I be able to pay this off this month?”

-Just 50% of Americans with health insurance have employer-paid insurance. The rest pay more than $300 a month to insure a family of four. The simplest way to reduce that is to raise your deductible to $1,000 and invest the money you would have spent on premiums in an emergency fund. Most frugality books have sections on navigating the confusing world of health insurance and saving 50% or more on this expensive item.

-The average person can save $80 today on auto insurance, another big-ticket item for most of us, with a simple phone call. Just raise your deductible to $500 or $1,000. Chances are very good that the money you saved in premiums will more than make up for the higher deductible by the time there is a claim. Consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage on a car that’s more than five years old or worth less than $1,500, and save 30% to 50% on your premium. Examine your policy closely for other items that will chop your costs, such as discounts for safety features (e.g., air bags, anti-lock brakes), and medical coverage that duplicates coverage in your health insurance.

-Are you wasting money on another kind of insurance, too? If you’re single and have no dependents, you definitely don’t need life insurance. Children (unless they’re child stars or prodigies who contribute income to the family) do not need life insurance. If you’re married with no children and two incomes, you may not need it if each partner could support him/herself.



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