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smart spending
100 tips to help you save

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

23. Participate in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. Your contributions are made with pretax dollars. You save for the future while reducing today's taxable income.

24. Set up a tax-advantaged IRA or Roth IRA account to build up your retirement savings.

25. Save your raise. The next time you get a raise at work or a tax refund, consider directing half to savings. If you're not used to the money, you won't miss it.

Car and commuting 

1. Look for ways to cut out your car altogether. Consider walking, biking or telecommuting. If you live in an area that has good public transportation, take advantage of it. Even if you can't quit driving altogether, using some of these methods, your family can get by on one car instead of two.

2. Consider carpooling. Carpool matching services are available free in many communities. Do a search online for a local carpool center or call your local government.

3. When using mass transit, be sure to take advantage of multiple-ride discount cards, monthly passes and any other deals for riders.

4. Maintain your car. Keeping tires inflated properly saves fuel and tread wear, and a well-tuned engine that gets regular oil changes burns less gas.

5. Buy the lowest grade (octane) of gasoline that is appropriate for your car. As long as your engine doesn't knock or ping, the fuel you're using is fine.

6. Don't top off the gas tank. Rapidly starting and stopping a gas pump can cause it to overcharge you for the small amount of gas you put in, and there's a good chance gas will slosh or seep out.

7. Lighten up on the accelerator, and don't make fast starts or sudden stops. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. For example, driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your fuel economy by two miles per gallon.

8. Tighten the gas cap. And if your cap doesn't fit snugly, buy a new one. Gas easily evaporates from the tank if it has a way to escape.

9. Buy a fuel-efficient car. When pricing cars, factor in long-term fuel costs. Keep in mind that sunroofs add to wind resistance, lowering the mileage per gallon.

10. Be smart with the air conditioning. On the highway, closed windows decrease wind resistance, so run the air conditioner. In stop-and-go traffic, shut off the air conditioning and open the windows.

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11. Comparison shop for auto insurance at least once a year. Check with at least three companies before signing up.

12. You can save money on car insurance by changing your profile. Improving your credit, getting married, moving to a better neighborhood, taking a defensive driving course or joining the right national and local organizations can lower your insurance.

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