Saving money is top of mind for just about everyone these days. With vacationing and other summer fun activities front and center, saving is no easy task. Why not explore and take advantage of creative ways to save? Here is a list of resources and tips that will help you do just that.
Saving at Home
Cell phones: Many of us have cell phone plans that don’t fit our needs, but we still don’t take the time to find a more suited plan. www.billshrink.com and www.validas.com will evaluate your usage to identify where you can save. www.myrate.com will allow you to compare rates. You can get free texting service at www.texplus.com.
Water/Coffee: Many households rely on bottled water these days. You would be surprised how much you can save just by purchasing a Brita filter and drinking the filtered tap water instead. You can now savor the taste of Starbucks’ and Dunkin Donuts signature blends right from your own home. So why spend $5.00 at the store for the same thing? Make it at home and save!
Movies/Books/Music: Rather than going to Red Box or paying for pay per view flicks, visit the library. The library is a great place to access free movies, work out videos, books, and music. Also, take advantage of the free e-books available for download on kindles or other devices. There are sites such as www.hulu.com and www.crackle.com that offer free movies to download as well
Computers: You don’t have to pay upwards of $30 for computer protection. Avast Antivirus and Microsoft Security Essentials is free. You can also save when troubleshooting computer issues by visiting www.techguy.org. If you are looking for an online storage solution, check out Windows Live Skydrive. It will provide free storage space (currently 7 gigabytes of free space), and protects files and photos from crashes or theft.
Heating/cooling: Ask your local electric or gas utility for a free or low-cost home energy audit. The audit may provide ways to reduce home heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year.
Groceries: Bankrate has a great compilation of ways to save on groceries. Click here to read more.
Online shopping: www.freeshipping.org directs you to retailers who offer free shipping on every order and it also gives you coupon codes to get free shipping at other retailers.
Repairs/service: Almost everyone has had an experience where they feel their auto service bill is questionable. Visit www.repairpal.com to see if you are getting a good deal on car service/repairs.
Car values: If you are in the market for a new or used car, and want to see what others are paying currently for that specific type of vehicle, visit www.truecar.com. www.edmunds.com is another good resource.
Gas: Gas buddy is an app that helps you find gas stations sorting either by location or price, using GPS technology.
Click here for more cool apps to make your drive easier.
Passports: Instead of paying to have your passport photo taken at the post office or CVS, take a picture with your digital camera and upload it to www.epassportphoto.com.
Hotels: Visit www.priceline.com for a searchable database of hotel freebies. Then check out www.tripadvisor.com to read reviews of thousands of hotels. If you are trying to determine if promotional offers are worth it or not, check out www.dealbase.com. This site offers a “deal analyzer,” which dissects promotional offers to let you know just how much you’ll really save by going with that deal.
Airfare: Visit www.kayak.com to find the cheapest fares available. Then go to Bing’s Travel “price predictor” to help you decide the best time to buy. It can forecast when the cost of the airfare will go up or down. www.yapta.com tracks fares for you and will shoot you an email if the cost of your flight goes down.
Dining Out: If you are looking to save while dining out with the family, check out www.kidsmealdeals.com. This site will find restaurants offering free meals for kids. Many restaurants have deals like this in place on one specific day during the week. You can also find deals by checking out www.groupon.com and www.livingsocial.com.
Car Rentals: www.kayak.com offers deals on car rentals, but click here to see some highly rated apps that can help you as well. Car rentals.com is another excellent site to search, and they recently came out with their own app as well, which has been receiving great reviews.
Credit report: Don’t underestimate the power of your credit score. This number will have a huge impact on your ability to obtain loans, and will help determine the rate you get. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for your free annual report. Visit www.creditkarma.com to obtain your free score.
College: www.upromise.com turns your everyday spending into money for college education. Cash rewards for eligible purchases such as groceries, gas, dining out and travel can be automatically transferred into your child’s 529 account. You can also visit sites like www.fastweb.com to search colleges, look up scholarship matches, get financial aid tips and advice, and more. A great site to review is http://www.savingforcollege.com/tools_calculators/. It is packed with calculators, tips, 529 information, and featured scholarships.
Banking: Visit www.findabetterbank.com to compare banks and credit unions in your area that fit your needs and preferences such as free checking, online banking, overdraft protection, etc…
Enjoy the summer months, and remember to take advantage of all of the excellent tools and resources available to help you save!