smart spending

9 cash-saving tips that pay big bucks

What it's worth: According to ConsumerReports.org, raising your homeowners insurance deductible from $250 to $1,000 can save you a sweet 25 percent. That's $201 alone. Assuming that raising your deductible could lower your other two insurance bills by a modest 10 percent, consumers can save $866.80 per year on average.

  • A one-time deposit of $866.80 grows to $2,392.
  • Annual deposits add up to $21,782 in 15 years.

Time the vacations

For Leah McCombe, a New York City-based art director, saving money means scouting hot vacation deals.

"My boyfriend and I just got back from Nicaragua, and the whole trip -- airfare and tours -- only cost us $500 each," McCombe says. "That's what happens when you vacation somewhere cheap in the off-season."

On top of saving on airfare, those who leave their hometown when nobody else does can also save anywhere from 20 to 50 percent off hotels and tourist activities. Combine that savings with discounts from online promotional codes, and consumers can travel much cheaper this year.

What it's worth: A study conducted by Visa shows that the average consumer plans to blow $1,654 per person on their summer vacation. Flip that vacation from summer to winter, factor one-fourth off hotel, airfare and entertainment, and that $1,654 drops down to a $1,241 vacation budget, for a $413 savings.

  • A one-time deposit of $413 grows to $1,139.
  • Annual deposits of $413 add up to $10,378.

Negotiate

The art of haggling is alive and well. DuPaix, a staunch advocate of negotiating for good bargains, says she's gotten breaks on everything from plumbing to preschool simply by asking.

"It especially works if it's a local vendor that operates on reputation or you've been a loyal customer," says DuPaix. "Several years ago, we missed two (credit card) payments and we called and said, 'Hey, we've been great customers. Would you be willing to waive that fee?' Both times they did."

What it's worth: You can't put a number on this one. DuPaix saves an extra $360 per year on preschool bills, but amateur hagglers may not be so lucky. While there's no guarantee that haggling will pay off, as DuPaix says, "Why not? It couldn't hurt."

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