smart spending

7 easy steps to saving $1,000 in 2008

If you don't find any deals at the store's entrance, there's still a chance to save money at the checkout line.

"Ask the cashier if there are any coupons or specials going on that would apply to any of your purchases," says Mehdikarimi.

By getting in the habit of asking about sales each time you pay for your groceries, you could regularly discover discounts for items that you were already planning to purchase. The clerk might have extra coupons on hand, or a manager who's ringing up your groceries might let you know about a special offered on one of your brands.

Even a customer may help you if she hears your question and mentions a "buy one, get one free" deal that you missed.

Another way to save is to sign up for store coupon clubs.

"Grocery stores have many programs that allow you to get discounts for purchases," says Mehdikarimi.

If your grocer has a baby club, for example, signing up for the program could save you hundreds of dollars in diapers, infant food and other baby products over the course of a year.

If you're able to save just $4 off of your bill during each weekly shopping trip, total savings would be more than $200 a year.

4. Check out materials from the library

The next time you plan to buy or rent a favorite movie classic, head over to your local library instead and borrow the video for free. Many libraries stock DVDs -- movie classics and newer titles -- and CDs with generous borrowing periods.

If you need children's videos, visit the juvenile area for new cartoons and educational selections.

Adding up the savings

TypeHow often?Savings each timeYearly savings
Dinner discountsTwice monthly$5.00$120.00
Returning unused itemsVariesVariesVaries ($90 in this example)
Finding grocery dealsWeekly$4.00$208.00
Check out library materialsMonthly$20.00$240.00
Bundling utilitiesMonthly$20.00$240.00
Negotiating savings on servicesMonthly$10.00$120.00
  Total:$1,018.00

While you are at the library, see if they have the latest book releases. Many libraries post best-seller lists for your convenience, and they probably have several copies of many titles. Remember to return everything on time, because libraries charge late fees just like rental stores do.

If you want reading material but you don't want to leave your home, call your local library and ask if they offer e-books that can be downloaded to your computer.

If you borrow just two books or movies a month that you would otherwise buy or rent, you could save between $120 and $240 per year.

5. Bundle cable, phone and Internet services

If you can't live without your cable, telephone and Internet access, but the monthly bills are getting uncomfortably high, consider bundling all of your services under one company.

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"With the competition for cable and Internet being so high, there's a good chance that you can negotiate a promotional rate," says Mehdikarimi.

Just be aware that unexpected fees could be added to that low quoted rate.

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