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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

Raises are hard to come by at many jobs, so don't wait for the boss to be struck by the sudden realization that you're valuable. Give yourself a raise by spending less of your hard-earned cash.

Following any one of these tips can save you as much as $500 per year. Some of them can save you more. If you do all 10, you'll save at least $5,000 a year. That's a heck of a lot more than the measly 3 percent increase that your employer is likely to hand out. And the best part about it is that you don't have to smile and say "thank you."

10 suggestions for painless frugality
1. Drive less.
2. Bring your own stimulant.
3. Conserve energy.
4. Dig gardening.
5. Go small or stay pet-free.
6. Don't flush money down the commode.
7. Limit media.
8. Sign up for tax-advantaged plans.
9. Eat in.
10. Don't bank on it.

1. Drive less.
With gas hovering around $4 per gallon, you don't have to cut back on much mileage to save $500 in a year. You'll save that much in gas alone if you drive a car that gets 15 miles per gallon just 36 fewer miles per week. When you divide it by 50 weeks, 1,872 miles in a year isn't much. If you have a 40-mile round-trip commute, persuading the boss to allow telecommuting one day a week, or squeezing 40 hours of work into four days, will definitely put you ahead about $500 per year.

If that doesn't work for you, there are other options. The cutback doesn't have to be extreme. Trimming a couple of unnecessary short hops out of your routine is enough to hit the target. Encouraging the kids to take the school bus instead of schlepping them in the car, or consolidating three trips to the grocery store into one weekly excursion may do the trick. Vacationing at the lake instead of driving the family to Florida will certainly hit the goal.

2. Bring your own stimulant.
Stop buying coffee at the chichi coffee joint down the street from work. Either bringing coffee from home in a thermos or brewing it in the break room will actually improve the quality of your morning shot of energy, as well as cut its cost dramatically. You can get 40 cups of coffee from a pound of beans. Even the gourmet ones can be purchased for $4 per pound. If you're spending $2 per day on coffee -- easy to do in most workplaces -- you'll go from spending $500 a year to about $25 by making your own.

Save even more by taking cans of soda or bottled water to work instead of buying them out of the vending machine. Bottled water sells for around 30 cents a bottle at a big-box grocery stores. Compare that to the 75 cents or more that you'll spend at the machine, and it's a no-brainer. You can go even further by cleaning your small plastic water bottles and replenishing them with drinking water from a gallon jug. (It's an environmentally friendly move, too.)

-- Updated: June 5, 2008
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