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smart spending
100 tips to help you save

Daily life 

1. Don't "crisis cook." Shopping after work for the day's dinner gets expensive. Plan a weekly menu before shopping and watch your grocery bill shrink.

2. Don't waste money on prepared foods. Instead, prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them, or double a recipe when cooking and freeze the remaining portion for a hectic day coming up.

3. The highest-markup items at the grocery story are on the shelves at about chest level. Reach up or kneel down to select the cheaper house or generic brands.

4. Avoid shopping for food when you're hungry; you'll buy more. And try to shop without the kids; those little helpers can quickly boost your bill by lobbying for their favorite high-priced brands.

5. Grab your local supermarket's weekly insert or log onto its Web site to see the weekly specials. You can save big by buying whatever brands are marked down rather than always buying the same brand.

6. Check out the wealth of coupon sites on the Web before you shop.

7. Avoid purchasing non-grocery items, such as painkillers, contact lens solution, etc., at a grocery store. You usually pay more.

8. Beware of "discount store syndrome." Just because you're in a bargain store doesn't mean you're getting the best price on every item.

9. Always send in for the rebate on a purchase, whether it's $2 or $50. It all adds up.

10. Veer your wardrobe away from the extremely fashionable, trendy styles that limit how many times and how many ways you can wear them. Try to buy clothes with dual functions: business casual outfits that can be dressed down for a relaxed night out with friends, for example.

11. Dry cleaning costs add up quickly. So put the silks in the back of the closet and move your wash-and-wears upfront.

12. When your clothes are wrinkled, hang them on a shower rod, spritz them with a fine mist of hot water and they'll be wrinkle-free in the morning.

13. Put cash back in your pocket by taking the clothing you no longer wear -- that's still in good condition -- to a consignment shop. While you're there, shop for used clothes -- if they're in good condition, you'll save a bundle by not buying new!

14. Working couples can reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses and premiums by carefully comparing the costs of the benefits offered by each employer to find the best deal.

15. Check out the local beauty school for bargains on everything from haircuts and manicures to spa facials and highlights.


16. Save a bundle on taxes by paying your child care and health care costs with pretax dollars. Participate in your employer's flexible spending account program.

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