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smart spending
100 tips to help you save

17. Cut child care expenses through flexible scheduling. Can you telecommute, job share or work more flexible hours to reduce the hours away from home?

18. If your public school district offers a half-day pre-K program for 4-year-olds, enroll your child. It's free and reduces child care costs to half-day rates.

19. Consider alternative ways to get health care for your pet. Humane society or university veterinary clinics may offer thriftier medical services than private practitioners. And always seek a second opinion when a vet suggests a pricey procedure. You'd do it for yourself, right?

20. Keep your eyes open for new restaurants in town. They typically offer grand opening specials.

21. Check your local newspapers for advertisements of lunch and dinner specials and early bird specials -- look for coupons, too.

22. Do lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus usually offer the same entrees as dinner, just smaller portions and a smaller check.

23. Share an entree or stick with the appetizer menu. Many restaurants serve portions that are too large for one person to finish.

24. Check your favorite magazines' Web sites for online offers that may be lower than others you've received.

25. Use your local library -- your tax dollars pay for it, so you should be reaping the benefits. Check out a book you'll read once instead of buying it at the bookstore. Pick up a video at the library rather than renting one.

Personal finance 

1. Start saving something today. It doesn't have to be a large sum. Even on a tight budget, a small amount adds up over time. Get an envelope, cookie jar, coffee can or whatever you like and set aside the same amount every week. The trick: Don't count it, don't spend it!

2. Treat saving as a bill. Consider having the amount transferred automatically from your checking account or paycheck. Pay your account every month or every two weeks.

3. Empty your pockets -- or your purse -- at the end of the night. Put all the change into a jar. Not only will you feel lighter, but your spare change adds up a lot faster than you think.

4. Just paid off a big debt such as a car loan or child's tuition? Keep making the payments -- this time to yourself.

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5. Trying to lose weight this season? Each time you go without dessert, that midafternoon candy bar break or that fatty mochaccino at the coffee shop, put the cost of your forgone goody into your savings jar.

6. Involve the whole family in saving. Plan a treat for everyone when you reach the savings goal. Make it something everyone will look forward to, but inexpensive, such as a day at the zoo, museum or beach.

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