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A few simple money-saving ideas (and three helpful apps)

General

Calculating savings
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If at all possible, try to save your change and any monetary gifts.

If you have one coming, try to save at least half of your income tax refund.

Review your paycheck; when you get a raise, overtime pay or a year-end bonus, try to save it (can you continue to live on what you made before?).

Can you cut down or entirely get rid of an expense? Save what you would have spend on it.

Have a portion of your savings automatically deposited into a savings account.

Home Improvement

Shop around, then select from among several well established, licensed contractors; check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Never sign a contract that requires full payment before the work is completed. Also, don’t sign anything you don’t understand.

Insurance

Review your life insurance premiums and coverage annually. Do you want insurance protection only? Buy a term insurance policy.

Review your insurance coverage. Do you have the appropriate amounts for your present situation? Look at all the types of coverage you may have (such as car, home, life and disability, for example). And make sure your beneficiary information is up-to-date.

Utilities

Make sure that the appliances you buy are energy-efficient (like my computer!).

Did you know that low-income subscribers may qualify for discount service? Call your local provider for more info.

Long-distance calls made at nigh or on weekends can cost less than weekday calls.

Credit Cards

Avoid late payment and over-the-credit limit fees (they can cost nearly $40!).

Switch to credit cards that have lower annual percentage rates (APR).

Prescription Drugs

Ask your physician and pharmacist for generic drugs whenever possible.

When taking a prescription drug on an ongoing basis, consider using mail-order pharmacies or a mail-order service, which often charge lower prices.

Buying Food

Don’t shop regularly at a convenience store; they usually charge higher prices.

Use a list (do you see something that you want to buy that wasn’t planned for? Ask yourself three questions: “Will I use it soon?” “Will I need it later, but can save money by buying it now?” and “Does it fit within my budget?” ) and eat something before you go shopping! You’ll spend less on food.

Buy generic brands with optimistic caution (some are just as delicious as the name brands, but some are just dreadful).

Did you know that higher-priced items are usually located at eye level? Lower-priced items are usually found below or above eye level. And try to avoid ready-made meals; they’re very pricey!

Get a store frequent buyer card; it’ll provide instant access to sales and savings (so true!).

Keep your receipts (for at least a few days to a week).

Car Repairs and Maintenance

By simply keeping your engine tuned and tires inflated to their proper pressure, you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year.

Finding a skilled, trustworthy mechanic will be well worth its weight in gold; look for one that has done excellent work for a friend, co-worker or family member.

For more info on money management, try these four to start (there are many more!): www.apprisen.com or call 800-355-2227, www.americasaves.org, www.mymoney.gov and www.yahoo.com/finance.

Three Helpful Apps

Key Ring-www.keyringapp.com

Have access to Key Ring’s exclusive deals and coupons at thousands of stores. By uploading all your loyalty cards to this app, cashiers can then scan them from your phone (iOS, Android).

Larky-www.larkey.com

Are you an AARP member? Belong to a professional union or in a museum group? If you’re involved in any qualifying organization (and chances are good that you are; there are thousands listed), you may be eligible for discounts. Upon registration, you’ll get a reminder when you’re near one of these money-saving perks (iOS).

RedLaser-www.redlaser.com

This enables you to get the best deal around by letting you scan retail barcodes. It also will alert you of lower prices online or at nearby stores (iOS, Android).

Sources: “Simple Steps To Save Money (And Improve Your Finances, Too!), an informational pamphlet by Apprisen, 2014 and “4 Apps That Will Save You Cash”-by Vi-An Nguyen-Parade magazine, June 8, 2014