smart spending

Driver safety course saves money

Everyone is looking to save money or cut costs these days, whether it's clipping coupons, refinancing a mortgage or cutting back on eating out. Our Frugal $ense contest winner for this month -- Ann Todd, of Peapack, N.J. -- has three children under the age of 3, so she really wanted to make sure she was spending every dollar wisely.

Ann looked into cutting her auto insurance premium and found a discount she hadn't heard about. Ann's agent suggested she and her husband take an online driver safety course. The result: a savings of $180, which can now go toward diapers for her three young children.

February's Frugal $ense winner: Ann Todd
Ann Todd of Peapack, N.J., won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Car safety course leads to insurance savings
"I recently asked my auto insurance company what additional discounts I am eligible for and how to apply for them. They recommended that I take the AARP online driver safety course to save an additional 5 percent for the next three years on my auto policy. If you don't ask, you don't get."

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Bankrate: How did you find out about this option?

Ann Todd: I actually called the car insurance (company) and asked them how I could reduce my premium. I have all the other discounts, and the agent said I could take a driver safety course. But since I have three small children -- a two-and-a-half-year-old and 4-month-old twins -- there was no way I could go somewhere to attend a course. Then, she told me I could take it online.

Bankrate: How long did the course take to complete?

Ann Todd: Actually eight hours. The woman told me it was 30 minutes, but when I went online it was eight hours. But the good thing is that you can do a couple of hours and then go back to the class when you have time.

Bankrate: How much did the course cost, and what did you save on your auto premium?

Ann Todd: I think it was $10 or $15 to take the course and for my husband and me, we saved $180 on our yearly premium. So it was worth it.

Bankrate: Eight hours is a significant investment of your time. Did you learn anything new?

Ann Todd: It was just nice to refresh your memory, how to stop at a stop sign, how far back to stay from a school bus. It was beneficial to take the driver safety course.

Bankrate: What other moves has your family made during this economic downturn?

Ann Todd: I don't know if you want to call this a frugal tip or not, but with three kids in car seats, we had to get a new car. So we needed something big because we do a lot of travelling to see my family in Pennsylvania, and we have a golden retriever dog and we like to bring her with us. So we decided we would need an SUV, and with all the red-tag sales by GM, we were able to get a Yukon Denali. And with my brother-in-law's employee discount, we saved about $20,000.

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