15 Real Simple Ways to Save Thousands of Dollars
The March issue of Real Simple magazine has a fantastic feature called 71 ways to spend smarter. With the magazine's permission, I'm sharing 15 of my favorite tips from that issue.
March is the best time to buy a new TV
You can save an extra 15% if you buy your TV in March. New TV models usually come out in March, which means retailers will be clearing out their old inventory to make way for the newest items.
If March isn't a good time, the day after Thanksgiving is the second best time to do your TV shopping. Of course, you can easily cut out TV altogether by watching your favorite shows on your computer.
Don't buy products placed right at your eye level. That's where the most expensive products are. Companies know that's where you'll look first, so they pay supermarkets a hefty premium to place their most expensive products right where you're most likely to look.
Look up or down instead. That's where you'll find the store brands which are usually just as good.
Forget the 3,000 mile oil change rule
95% of drivers change oil too frequently, according to a AAA survey. The 3,000 mile rule is a myth. Unless your car gets heavy usage like a taxis, most cars can wait 7,500 miles, says Perry Stern, editor at MSN Autos.
Amy Schiff from our forums says you can save even more by changing your own oil: "The bonus is you don't have to listen to the Jiffy Lube guy try to sell you extra services like changing the air filter for $16 when the part itself literally costs only $5."
Best grocery buys from warehouse stores
Strip steak costs $5.99 a pound at warehouse stores vs. $11.49 a pound at the supermarket. Stock up because there's plenty of ways to enjoy that bargain meat.
Another great buy is canned tomatoes, which is 45 cents a pound at the warehouse stores vs. $1.14 a pound at the supermarket.
Don't splurge on fancy toothbrushes
The American Dental Association says budget toothbrushes are effective tools for cleaning your teeth.
Pricier toothbrushes with fancy ridged bristles aren't necessarily better. The real key is to avoid a toothbrush with hard, stiff bristles, which can cause enamel erosion and receding gums. The best option is soft brush with bristles that have rounded ends.
The oscillating-rotating electric toothbrushes are better for your teeth than manual ones at reducing plaque and gingivitas, but the benefits are modest.
You don't need designer reading glasses
If you only need low-magnification nonprescription glasses to read, the cheap $15 glasses you can get at the drugstore will be as effective as the $125 designer glasses.
If the cheaper glasses feel comfortable on you, there's no need to spend a fortune.
Share a babysitter with a neighbor
Fix windshield chips immediately
A small chip can easily lead to a full crack. Small chips cost $100 to fix. Cost of replacing a windshield? $500 to $1,200. Ouch.
How to negotiate lower fees with your health-care providers
According to a 2005 Harris poll, two-thirds of people who asked for their medical fees to be lowered were successful.
The medical billing system has a lot of wiggle room for price adjustments. Always ask if discounts are available before the procedure. Offer to pay in cash can also save you up to 10 - 30% off your bill (ask for the "prompt-pay discount").
For more ideas, check out Wise Bread's comprehensive guide to getting the most out of your healthcare dollar.
Apple a day for whiter teeth
Snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and celery can help you maintain a dazzling smile.
Need more whitening power? You can do an at-home treatment once a week. Add just enough hydrogen peroxide to a little baking soda to form a paste. Brush with this paste to get rid of unsightly discoloration.
Get together once a year for a clothing swap
Real Simple reader Kelsey Hughes gets together with her friends once a year for a clothing swap. It is a good excuse to clear out the closet and get some new clothes for yourself.
Best part? Everyone goes home feeling as if they've had a full day of exciting shopping without spending a dime.
Information you need for a medical emergency
Quick access to your medical background is crucial for getting the best emergency care. That's why you should always carry a medical card in your wallet behind the driver's license (paramedics will always check there).
Write down information such as
- medications and vitamins you're taking
- any allergies
- major surgeries or illness
- contact information of your doctors
- contact information of your family members
Swap your latte for a misto
A misto is brewed coffee with steamed milk (as opposed to espresso with steamed milk). They generally cost about $1 less than regular lattes.
If you just want something hot and sweet, try steamed milk with a shot of flavored syrup.
No one will judge you for ditching bad gifts
How many of us are afraid to throw away tacky gifts for fear of offending someone? Erin says forget about it. She's throwing out stuff all the time and no one has ever called her out on it.
So relax. That classic clown lamp your uncle gave you ten years ago? It's time to let it go. He won't mind.
Here are a few related tips to help you find more zen in your uncluttering efforts:
Store digital cameras in a travel soap case
Plastic travel soap cases and Altoids tin cans are great for storing small electronic devices like cameras and MP3 players.
Keep in mind these cases only offer protection against scratches and minor bumps. And as the helpful reader at the Consumerist pointed out, hiding electronics in unusual places may sometimes attract unwanted attention from the TSA.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. If you see the March issue of Real Simple at the supermarket, pick it up and give it a scan. It is well worth your time.
Additional photo credits: Marina Burity, Rick, JMV, Noonch, Sherman Tan, Dori, Gustavo Veríssimo, Nick Bonzey, Michael Chen, Tin-Tin Azure, Sophia Alvarado, mangpages, Ahmed Rabea, Nguyen Thanh Long, LDCross.