smart spending

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Unblock drains

Pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar, will open a clogged drain by dissolving the gunk on contact. This will save money spent on expensive clog removers and is environmentally friendly as well.
Stephanie Romac, St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Cheap pool chemicals

Rather than using expensive pool store chemicals, use grocery store products. Sanitizer or chlorine is just unscented bleach; "pH Increaser" is baking soda; and laundry borax can be used as a pH buffer. Buy in bulk when on sale and use coupons.
Virginia Borden, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Protect your wardrobe

The secret to maintaining the vibrant color of your clothes and protect them from fading is to soak clothes in a vinegar and water mixture prior to washing. Vinegar sets the color and protects from fading too quickly. This works great with black jeans.
Lisa Penn, King of Prussia, Pa.

Full freezer uses less power

Keeping your freezer full will help it run more efficiently. If you have empty areas, place plastic bottles filled with water. The bottles work double-duty. You'll be more prepared for electrical outages because the ice will keep things frozen longer and have a safe emergency-water supply.
Dolores Dong, Charleston, S.C.

Don't miss out on government benefits

Go to and fill out the benefits questionnaire. It will locate any government programs you may qualify for. The list is complete with names and addresses of agencies, programs and what you need to do -- or be -- to qualify. I pulled up over 65 programs I had no idea existed! Try it! It's FREE!
Monique Noreiga, Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Frugal flights

When booking airline travel, be sure to compare the costs flying from the various airports around your area. Don't just settle for the closest airport. I've saved bundles of money by picking a major airport 100 miles south of my hometown instead of the one 100 miles north of it. And, I've cut costs by agreeing to take a smaller feeder airline from my hometown's small airport to a major airport. You can also save by traveling at different times of the day.
Lynn Bulmahn,, Orange City, Fla.

Save money on regular online purchases

Once you find something that you would like to purchase online, complete a quick online coupon search for that store and you will receive instant savings on something you already planned to purchase. A coupon search is easily completed on any search engine by typing the name of the store and the word "coupon."
Jamie Juntunen, Kapolei, Hawaii

Save on prescriptions

People with low incomes and senior citizens should see if they qualify for a prescription drug discount card put out by the drug companies. On your prescription label, it should name the pharmaceutical company (Pfizer, Lilly, etc). Look on the company's Web site for a link to "prescription savings." My mother qualified, and now gets her cholesterol medicine for $6 a month instead of $30!
Becki Harris, Logansport, Ind.

Cancel your land line

Most cell phone companies offer coverage and plan choices that meet most regular phone needs. So why not cancel your land line and use your cell as your main phone number? If you count on your land line for Internet access, see if your cable or satellite company offers it. You can save several hundred dollars.
Anthony Lazaro, Durham, N.C.

Big tax refund = loan to Uncle Sam

If you're getting a large tax refund it means you've given an interest- free loan to the government. Change the withholding status on your W-4 form to more accurately reflect your actual tax. The extra money in your paycheck can then be invested earlier in the year to earn you even more money.
Kevin Tanguay, Bronx, N.Y.

Beef up your 401(k)

Each time you receive an incremental raise, contribute half to your 401(k). If your raise is 6 percent, increase your contribution by 3 percent. You'll still see an increase in your net pay and your 401(k) will grow much quicker. Continue to do this until you've reached the maximum contribution allowed.
Vicki L. Robinson, Palmyra, N. Y.

Saving money on magazine subscriptions

If you are hoping to subscribe to a magazine, a trip to your doctor may be the answer. Doctors' waiting rooms usually have a variety of magazines with the special subscription cards inside. These special offers can knock 40 to 60 percent off of the annual subscription rate. Check with the receptionist before you take anything but they probably won't mind.
Shakeel Khan, Hanover Park, Ill.

Save on printing costs

If you own your own business, use a computer program such as Microsoft Office to create your own letterhead. If you have a quality printer, it will look professional. You'll save by not having to go to a professional printer for letterhead.
Andrew Gerth, Kansas City, Mo.

Shop at garage sales

I live in a very affluent area of Atlanta and I frequent garage sales as much as I can. I have gotten a Coach purse for $1, Pottery Barn and William Sonoma items that costs more than $100 -- for $1 or $2. Your best bet is to go on Fridays -- the best stuff is there early and you can find a great deal. Go a couple of weeks and you will be hooked -- it's amazing what people are willing to give away.
Traci Rogers, Alpharetta, Ga.

Online bill payment

Check with your bank to see if they offer online bill-paying services. Many banks are now offering free online bill payment as a way to entice new customers. If your bank does charge for this service, threaten to move your business elsewhere. You'll save money on stamps and you'll always have confirmation that the payment was received by monitoring your account online.
Derek Espeer, Kansas City, Mo.

Save on gift wrap

When buying wrapping paper, choose carefully. I buy a beautiful yet versatile type so that I can use it for several occasions instead of one. Plus, it doesn't get torn up sitting in the closet until next year. I bought an off-brand "Old world style" silver wrapping paper and used it for Christmas, a birthday and an anniversary.Andrew Gerth, Kansas City, Mo.

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