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smart spending
100 tips to help you save

13. Keep your driving record as clean as possible, and if it's pretty spotless already, make sure your insurance company knows it. Be a squeaky wheel about discounts if you've gone a certain number of years without an accident or ticket, store your car in a garage or drive fewer than a certain number of miles each year.

14. Bundle insurance coverage. If you have more than one car, insure them on the same policy to get a break. Or try insuring your auto policy through the same company that insures your home, for a discount.

15. Don't buy more insurance than you need. Consider raising deductibles (bank that amount for emergencies) and increasing your liability coverage.

16. Consider dropping collision insurance if you drive an older car. Ask: How much of your premium is collision insurance? Do you have $2,000 if you needed a new car tomorrow?

17. Rein in those ridiculous teen-driver insurance premiums. Make sure your teen studies hard -- some auto insurers offer discounts to good students. If she'll be driving a family car, designate which vehicle she will drive to avoid be charged as if they're driving the highest-risk vehicle on your policy. And when she goes off to college, take her off your insurance altogether to save big.

18. Car shop on a rainy day, at the end of the month or toward the end of the year. Car dealers will be begging for business. You will probably get a better deal and more for that trade-in.

19. Know your credit score before you car shop and secure your financing ahead of time from your bank or credit union. That way, you can ask the dealer to beat the offer you already have. Either way, you can be confident you got the best financing deal.

20. Use the Internet to get the best auto deal. Find the value of your trade-in and search online to find the lowdown on pricing and financing options on the car you'd like to buy. Visit several Web sites to compare everything from sticker price to customer rebates to regional incentives from manufacturers.

21. Let car dealers haggle with each other. E-mail, fax or phone several car dealers. Make it clear that you're contacting several dealers and you'll buy from the dealer that makes the best offer.

22. Negotiate the price of a new car, the price of your trade-in and your financing separately. A dealer will try to roll one or more of these transactions together. Don't let him.

23. Be prepared to walk away from a deal. You know within a few hundred dollars what you should be paying, and every minute spent discussing a figure significantly higher than that is wasted.

24. Bite the bullet. Sell your old car privately, get someone else to assume the lease or stay with the thing until it's paid off. Don't roll negative equity into a new car loan.

25. Consider buying a one- or two-year-old car. If the factory warranty is still good, you could get a car with 95 percent of its life left for 20 percent to 30 percent less than the cost of buying new.

 

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