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Special section Time to save

Use these frugal tips to squeeze the life out of each and every dollar. If you feel like you're hemorrhaging money find out where the bleeding is and make it stop!

Saving for the holidays

10 ways to save $500 or more

3. Conserve energy.
Dad was right. Turn off the TV when you leave the room. Using less energy is a painless way to save. Heat and air conditioning are the largest home-energy hogs. The U.S. Department of Energy points out that during each 24-hour period, you will save about 3 percent on your energy bill for every 1 degree that you lower the thermostat setting (or, conversely, raise it when air conditioning is the big cost).

For example, let's say you normally keep your thermostat set at 73 degrees in summer. If you raise it to 76 degrees, you will save about 9 percent (3 degrees times 3 percent) or 9 cents for every dollar you spend on air conditioning costs. If you're spending $2,000 per year, that small change will save you $180. Buy a programmable thermostat and turn the system up 10 degrees during the day when no one's home, and you'll save much more.

Here are some other quick fixes for savings that add up to an additional $400: Switch to U.S. Energy Star-approved light bulbs and save $60 a year. Running a 32-inch TV four hours a day costs $3 per month, but many families use the TV for background noise, letting it play 24/7. You can save more than $200 a year just by turning off the TV when nobody's watching it. Washing clothes in cold water is good for another $60 a year and powering down your computer at night saves $70.

4. Dig gardening.
Not only does gardening burn lots of calories, but also a nice yard adds value to the house. If you do it all yourself, it's pure profit. Assuming a modest savings of $300 per summer for mowing your own grass and another $200 for such related expenses as applying your own weed killer and fertilizer, a $500 savings is easily attained.

Bonus idea: Assign jobs like shoveling, raking and car washing to Junior, who's always good for hitting you up for money. While you might shell out $200 for him to do these chores, it's a savings, considering that you were going to give him the money whether he worked for it or not.

5. Go small or stay pet-free.
Fido and Tabby are lovable, but they can cost a bundle. If you're considering a pet, keep the cost of their upkeep in mind. Pawprints and Purrs, an animal adoption agency based in Keithville, La., tells its clients to expect to pay these annual costs of pet ownership: cat, $640; small dog, $780; medium dog, $1,115; large dog, $1,500. Obviously, smaller is cheaper. The difference between a large dog and a small one is $720 per year -- that's a lot of kibble.

-- Updated: June 5, 2008
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