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Shop around for home insuranceWith the cost of homeowners insurance skyrocketing, I went to my state's Department of Insurance Web site, which I found by doing a search on Google. There I found a Homeowner's Insurance Rate Guide that listed all the companies doing business in my state by county, name, phone number, financial rating, premium rates, complaint index and type of policy they sell. I switched carriers and reduced my annual premium by several hundred dollars.
Susan Wallace, Prosper, Texas
Cut the grass at cut-rate pricesLawn mower repair shops often have used, reconditioned mowers for sale and the prices are often competitive with even the best discount store chains. They also stand behind what they sell, should anything go wrong. I recently purchased a shiny, like-new self-propelled mower, in tiptop condition, with all the latest features for less than a new, barebones model would cost at a discount store. And, discount chains usually cannot service what they sell as they lack repair facilities.
Lynn Bulmahn, Orange City, Fla.
Use your closing date wiselyWhen you use a credit card to make a purchase, use a card whose statement closing date has just passed. For example, on the 14th, use a card with a statement closing date of the 9th or 10th. That way, the balance for today's purchase won't be due until the end of the billing period for the following month.
MJ Stigliano, Rahway, N.J.
Save on medicationsCall several pharmacies to compare the cost of a prescription if paid out of pocket, not using an insurance plan. Some will charge your full deductible amount, no matter what the prescription costs. It may be less expensive to simply pay in cash. Also, often you can save more by buying in multiples of 100.
Patricia Sparks, Kissimmee, Fla.
Ask for clearance itemsAlways ask for clearance items in a home appliance store. You won't usually find them advertised. They are often simply discontinued models. We got a great deal when we replaced a water heater and couple of faucets. We specifically asked if any of these items were on clearance and got a $259 heater for $25 and a $209 faucet for $75.
Seema Rao, Fremont, Calif.
Let 'em know who's the bossYou always have the choice to take your business elsewhere, use that choice to your advantage. I recently had my radiator replaced and it failed within two weeks. The dealer told me that the radiator was covered by the warranty, but not the installation costs. I would have to pay for the installation of the new replacement radiator. I told him that I was not happy with this arrangement and that I have been a loyal customer for over eight years. I then told him that if he wanted me to continue to be his customer in the future, he would waive the installation fee. If he no longer wanted me as a future customer then he would make me pay for the installation. It was his choice. I got the radiator installed for free!
Dave Hajdasz, Meriden, Conn.
It pays to write a letterIf you feel that you have been genuinely ripped off, write a reasonable letter to the company. Businesses want to keep their customers happy. I received $600 in airline vouchers when I wrote to the airline about the deal we got when we agreed to be bumped from an overbooked flight. I also picked up a free vacation day for several co-workers and myself by writing to our personnel office about an unfair benefits change. If you feel you are truly in the right, don't let others tell you nothing can be done.
Suzanne Summers, Falls Church, Va.
Get more from your health insuranceMany medical insurance plans do not cover costs for new glasses, dentistry, massages or health spas. However, most carriers do have agreements with providers of these services to offer significant discounts. Before paying full price for a service not covered on your policy, contact your insurance company to find out what other health-related partners they've contracted with and start saving."Jennifer Maslowski, New York, N.Y.
Rack up the frequent flier miles while you dine outSome frequent flier programs allow members to register for their dining program, in which they give you 10 miles for every dollar spent at participating restaurants. Go to the airline's Web site to see if they have a dining plan and register for free. Pay the restaurants with a credit card that earns additional miles to really make the most of these programs. You can easily earn hundreds of miles per meal!Benita Crittle, Pepper Pike, Ohio
Free airline ticketsWhen you are traveling and your flight is overbooked, the airline will ask volunteers to give up their spot. If you agree, you will usually have to wait a couple of hours for the next flight, but in compensation, they will often offer round trip tickets good for one year and sometimes even money. If you can handle the inconvenience, you just got yourself a free trip and some extra spending money.Ryan Reyes, Fontana, Calif.
Saving on gasWhen filling up your gas tank, try to fill up during the cooler times of the day such as early morning or later at night. Since the gas is cooler it is more condensed and you will get more gas for your money.Miguel Morales, Tucson, Ariz.
Scratch and dentWhen shopping for a major household appliance (washer, dryer, oven, refrigerator, etc.), browse the yellow pages for companies that sell "scratch and dents". These companies buy slightly tarnished appliances from major retailers at rock bottom prices and pass the savings on to you. The appliances may have a minor scratch or dent that is not visible to the naked eye. Savings can be more than 50 percent off the manufacturer suggested retail price.Ryan O'Connor, Ellicott City, Md.
Long distanceTo prevent long distance companies from "slamming" you (notifying your company that you want to change your long distance company without your authorization or knowledge) just call your telephone company and ask for a "pic freeze" to be put on your account. This freeze prevents ANYONE from changing your long distance company without your approval. This is never advertised.
S. Hurston, Bothell, Wash.
Save money and gasAfter the pump stops automatically, do not try to "top-off." The amount of pressure needed to deliver fuel is not enough in short bursts. Therefore, the dollar meter runs but you are not getting the fuel for those last few drops.Andy Ginsburg, Las Vegas, Nev.
Save time and money by paying electronicallyMany credit cards and utilities now have free electronic payment options that allow you to make payments instantly online or have the money deducted from your bank account automatically. So there's no longer a need to run out and buy stamps or write checks just to pay your bills!
Mark Cantor, Mayfield Heights, Ohio
Don't be shy ... ask for a better deal!I discovered that my cell phone plan was no longer the best offer out there. I called my cellular service provider and asked if they could match the offer that I had seen. They immediately offered to not only beat the rate, but also to increase my minutes and throw in free long-distance. My cell phone bill is now half of what it was plus all the extras. It doesn't hurt to shop around and ask your current provider to match competitive offers.
Kristy Wilson, Middletown, Ohio