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The cheapskates strike back -- 20 ways to save every day

Bankrate readers know how to save. Our "Cheap is chic" story prompted many readers to share their tips for keeping more green in their pockets. Here are 20 savvy strategies for saving all the way to the bank.

1. You don't have to spend a bunch of money to have fun. Go to a local park, and throw a Frisbee around. Go walking, jogging or hiking. It's free and good for you. Getting yourself into better health today may lower your medical bills later in life.

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2. Most first-run movies don't measure up. Wait until you hear a few rave reviews before going to a flick.

3. Get rid of that ''1,000 mega-channel lineup,'' and switch to basic cable. You can save as much as $20 a month. Or, delete television from your life. It cuts the 'I wants' drastically.

4. Instead of eating in a restaurant, order out! You will save 15 percent to 20 percent on a tip.

5. Stop shopping as a hobby. Stay away from the malls, and keep your checkbook and credit cards at home.

6. Join the frequent-flier program of each airline that you fly to earn free tickets. Take advantage of credit card air-mile programs. The miles accumulate quickly.

7. Car pool when possible or use mass transit. In cities where you are able to use a transfer on the bus or subway, save it and use it for your return trip. Time your trips, so you travel during the discounted hours.

8. If you live in an area with increasing home prices, buy a rental property. Live in it for two years, so you can avoid capital gains when you sell. Hang on to the property, and let the tenants pay the mortgage; you get the tax write-off.

9. Sell the big house, and get an affordable townhouse or smaller home. Do you really need a family room, a living room, an entertainment room, a den and a three-car garage?

Ready to invest in a CD? Find the best yields in your area.

10. Rent out a room in your home. If you have more space than you need, rent the basement or extra room to a student, particularly if you live in an area that has several universities.

11. A lot of people keep change in a big jar and let it accumulate. Why not count the change regularly and buy U.S. savings bonds? Bonds yield more interest than the money was earning in the jar.

12. Always ask for a 10-percent discount, no matter what the merchant sells. You'd be surprised how often it works. A 10 percent-discount achieved half of the time is comparable to a 5-percent increase in your salary!

13. Put cash back in your pocket by taking the clothing you no longer wear -- yet still in good condition -- to a consignment shop. The store will split the profits with you. At the end of the consignment period, donate unsold items to charity and enjoy the tax deduction. There are also consignment shops for furniture.

14. Never buy new furniture. It is sold at a higher markup than almost any consumer item.

15. Get rid of all of the credit cards but one. Take that one and make it hard to impulse shop with -- bury it in the backyard or freeze it in a bowl of water in your refrigerator. Read your monthly statements carefully -- look out for the hidden charges, such as credit insurance.

16. Keep receipts on all purchases. Unfortunately many products are made cheaply. With a receipt, you can bring back the product for a replacement or refund.

17. If your power company offers a special energy-saving program, sign up and start saving. Some programs shut down electric appliances for short bursts of time during peak hours. You hardly notice the difference -- except in your bill.

18. Don't order new checks through the bank. Order new checks through one of the discount catalogs or through an office-supply warehouse. The savings are substantial.

19. Clip coupons from the Sunday paper. Organize them in a coupon pouch with one section for grocery shopping and one for fast food and restaurant runs.

20. If the opportunity exists, work overtime or an extra shift at least once or twice a month.

-- Posted: Sept. 28, 2001

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