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Things You Don't Have to Pay For:

  1. Storage lockers. You've got too much stuff. Sell or donate something and make room at home.
  2. Health club membership. Walk somewhere.
  3. Cable, especially the premium stuff. Buy or make an antenna to get HD local TV.
  4. Cigarettes. They're really expensive.
  5. Cell phones.
  6. A home phone if you pay less for a cell phone.
  7. Telephone extras, including long distance. Use Google Voice or Skype to make free long-distance calls.
  8. A checking account. Find a free one with free online bill pay.
  9. Extended warranties. They're overpriced and seldom used. Consumer Reports in 2004 recommended them only for laptop computers, plasma TVs, and treadmills.
  10. Insurance you don't need. If you have no dependents, you don't need much life insurance. Accidental death insurance is stupid. If you need insurance, then you need it no matter how you die.
  11. Magazine subscriptions. Most libraries now have freely accessible databases that provide content for tens of thousands of magazines, journals, newspapers and other educational, credible information issued on a periodical basis. You can use your own computer or the library's computer to do extensive research or just read up on your favorite interests. You can even set up alerts that deliver the full text of articles on your selected topics to your email account whenever they are published.
  12. Video rentals. Sometimes free at the library. If they don't have what you want, Redbox, grocery stores, etc. charge only $1 or so.
  13. Trash removal. If you have a pickup truck, see if your local landfill will allow you drop off your trash there for free. Many cities or counties require you to pay for their trash service, so this only applies if your local service is optional.
  14. Lawn service. Do it yourself. It's good exercise, gets you out of the house, and gives you exercise. But always do a cost comparison for what a professional service would charge, verses your equipment, your equipment maintenance costs, chemicals, fertilizers, and other assorted costs would add up to be. Check with your neighbor to see if you can go in together with a lawn service to get a discount.
  15. Soda. Tap water is better for you and virtually free.
  16. Pets. Get one from the shelter. It saves a life and discourages puppy mills.
  17. Pets. No pets means no pet expenses.
  18. Gas logs. Might as well burn money.
  19. Ice. Fill jugs and bags with water and freeze them.
  20. An extra car. Car rentals are $20-30 per day and an occasional car rental can be cheaper than keeping an extra car.
  21. Join your local Freecycle chapter. This is a free exchange of goods. You absolutely cannot charge anyone or accept money for your items, nor are you expected to pay for items you have received. Whoever wants the item picks it up at their own expense.

Things You Could Pay Less For:


  1. If it's non-perishable, on sale, and you will use it, stock up!
  2. It's probably cheaper at the dollar store.
  3. Buy used. A used CD sounds as good as a new one.
  4. Yard sales can yield great deals, especially the ones in wealthy areas.
  5. Layaway still isn't a bad idea if you can't pay for it all now.
  6. Postage. Use Media Mail instead of Priority Mail for printed material and CDs when the package weighs more than a pound and it doesn't have to be delivered quickly. Using ZIP+4 can speed up Media Mail for no extra charge. If the package weighs less than a pound, first class mail is normally very close to the cost of media mail.
  7. Postage. Pay bills online and save a stamp. You'll also have documentation that it was paid on time.
  8. Paper towels. Use dishtowels. They're reusable.
  9. Dishtowels. Use shop towels.
  10. Shop towels. Use old clothes rags.
  11. Dry-cleaning. Try Dryel.
  12. Reuse freezer bags if they're not yucky.
  13. Services. Trade services with a neighbor
  14. If the library doesn't have your favorite magazine, and you itemize on your taxes, donate a subscription to them and take a tax deduction.
  15. Internet. Try
    • NetZero and Juno are still free for 10hrs per month each
    • Freedompop offers free wireless internet in some areas after you buy their device (watch for deals on Groupon for refurbished hotspots).
    • Your public library
    • Your neighbor's wifi (ask first!)
    • Restaurants, bookstores, etc
    • Many 4G smartphones can create a wifi "hotspot" to provide internet to nearby computers. If you already pay for such a smartphone, activating hotspot may be cheaper ($0-$15/mo) than home Cable/DSL internet. Not recommended for heavy users or for use with VOD (Netflix; Hulu) services.
  16. Library. If your library doesn’t have what you need, ask to see if they can get it by inter-library loan.
  17. High schools can be a source of free labor for all sorts of things if they have any trade classes like welding, construction, agriculture, cosmetology, woodworking, etc. Check it out.
  18. Make your own cleaning solutions. This often works better, as some companies have skimped on the "active" ingredients in cleaners. For example:
    • Window cleaner: 1 part nonsudsy ammonia, 1 part rubbnig alcohol and 4 parts water. Or substitute white vinegar for nonsudsy ammonia.
    • All-purpose cleaner: add anywhere from 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup liquid laundry detergent (depending on how strong you want the cleaner to be) to 2 cups water. Add 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol to make this evaporate faster.
  19. Ask for discounts. For example, if you are eligible for senior discounts (which start as young as 50 at some businesses), you usually have to ask for them each time. If you're a regular customer of a small business, try jokingly asking for "the good-guy discount" or something similar and see what they say.
  20. Look into prepaid cell phones. One you pay for two years' worth of cell phone service, your carrier-subsidized phone ends up costing you 2-3 times the full sticker price of the phone.


  1. Fixing your car is cheaper than financing a new one. Don't kid yourself.
  2. Buy a good used car. What you save on the purchase price will easily cover repairs.
  3. Always have a used car inspected by a certified mechanic before you buy it.
  4. Buy cars that are in the last 2-3 years of production. Generally, the bugs in the model are worked out and the buyers are tired of them.
  5. Avoid popular models - you will pay more.
  6. Car rentals are $20-30 per day and an occasional car rental can be cheaper than keeping an extra car.
  7. Car rentals can be more economical on long trips over a short period of time. i.e., it can be cheaper to rent a car to drive 1000 miles over a long weekend than to use your own vehicle.
  8. Leasing is usually not a good deal.
  9. Public transportation can be cheaper than driving your own car, especially if it means you can keep fewer cars in the household. If one person can take public transportation most days, a family member may be able to help out when the family car is needed for an appointment, etc.
  10. Walking and biking are cheaper than driving on short distances, and you'll get some exercise.
  11. Buy the lowest grade gasoline for your car, unless the car’s owner’s manual specifically says that you must use higher octane gasoline.
  12. If you have an old junker, your local high school transportation department can use it to learn on and may fix it up for you for free.
  13. Buy the tools (including a service manual) and learn to do your own preventive maintenance on your car. Make sure you do all the things that the manufacturer recommends and learn to spot leaks, worn belts, etc. while you are down there.
  14. Keep your car properly maintained and regularly check tires for proper inflation to save gas.
  15. Anticipate stops and avoid jackrabbit starts to save gas.
  16. Know your auto benefits that come with your credit card or insurance coverage. Often there is free or discounted towing and other services that go unused. If you have a child away at school, or you want the extra coverage, consider a AAA or other auto club membership. Towing, extraction, jump-starts, and flat tire changes are just some of the things covered. The peace of mind may be worth the cost.

Beauty and Clothes:

  1. Because men's fashions rarely change, buy in bulk when you find a bargain.
  2. Try thrift stores; it's kinda fun. They are a great source for designer women's clothing ... and men's shoes. Some of the women's clothing has not been worn.
  3. Yard sales are a great source of kids' clothes.
  4. Learn how to mend.
  5. Look for REAL outlet stores - that is where the real bargains reside!
  6. Running shoes: last year's style could save you 50%.
  7. Check out cosmetology schools for cheaper haircuts. For men and boys, buy a good pair of clippers (~ $25) and cut their hair yourself.
  8. Participate in a consignment shop. Use the proceeds from the clothing you sell to purchase new-to-you clothes.


  1. If you have credit card debt and good credit, ask your credit card company to lower your interest rate.
  2. Consider using low interest or 0% balance transfer offers to credit cards with low balances. Be aware of when the offer ends and be prepared for the change in interest rate, either by having it mostly paid off or having another card to transfer it to. Also consider the cost of balance transfer fees, which are based on the amount transferred, and typically not capped. Note that each new card you open can lower your credit score, so balance your need for a new card with that.
  3. If you have consumer debt, make the minimum payments on everything but the highest rate debt. Pay all you can on that until you get it paid off and then go to the next.
  4. Know what information is included in your credit report. Get your report free from each of the credit bureaus at: Don't fall for the credit report web sites that claim to be free, but try to sucker you in to paying for a credit report or credit score monitoring service.
  5. Contest incorrect information on your credit report. A good source of information is here:


  1. High school sophomores and juniors can generally take classes at local public universities, sometimes for free. It gives them a head start when they get to the university. The local school district may not advertise this.
  2. Take your kid's senior portraits yourself if you have a decent camera and know how to use it. Ask a friend or family member who is into photography to do it if you can't.
  3. Help your kid make his own graduation announcements.
  4. Scholarships - often there for the asking. College Board, Fastweb, and the DOL have scholarship search engines. Don't forget to fill out the FAFSA annually!
  5. You or your child are paying the professor's salary. Make sure that you (or your child) have access to him or her.
  6. Check to see if your employer will pay some of the cost for you to take college classes related to your work.
  7. Check around for public schools that offer online-only programs. You won't pay the extra fees like parking and student activities that you would if you attended classes on campus, plus you won't have to buy gas to drive back and forth. Some schools even charge in-state tuition rates to all students, so don't limit your search to schools in your state. Be wary of private, for-profit schools, though -- you may pay a lot more, and many of them aren't accredited.


  1. Many cultural and sporting events at colleges and universities are cheap.
  2. Use the city parks - you are paying for them.
  3. High school and small college sports are GREAT deals.
  4. Go to the matinee instead of the night movies.
  5. Wait to see movies until they are out on DVD.
  6. Don't pay for DVR service when you don't have to. Network shows are often available online the day after they air, free with commercials. (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS) You can also record television on your computer with the right equipment.
  7. Check out minor league games.
  8. If you go to a movie rental place that guarantees the movie is in stock, check ALL the movies to see if any aren't in. If it's not, you can get a rain check for it. You may not be willing to spend money to rent it, but what if it's free?
  9. See if there's a dollar theater in your area.
  10. College theater is a great way to see plays/musicals at very inexpensive rates.


  1. Breastfeed if possible
  2. Use cloth diapers. They've come a long way--no folding or pins required! The more kids you're planning to have, the more money you can save.
  3. You don't need commercial wipes. Use washcloths or cloth wipes with warm water--throw in wash with your cloth diapers.
  4. Make your own baby food. Your baby will get more variety and you're more likely to find things he likes. He might be more likely to try it if he sees you grind the same thing for him that you're eating.
  5. You don't need a changing table, a swing, fancy stroller, or a themed nursery.
  6. Instead of paying fees for kids to participate in city league sports, form your own weekend games with other parents and kids.
  7. Kids outgrow clothes really fast. Ask some friends with kids older than yours if you could have the "hand-me-downs." And offer to friends with kids younger than yours if they would be interested in your kids' outgrown clothes.

Food and Groceries:

  1. Generic won't kill you. Many grocery stores guarantee their brands; if you aren't satisfied, they'll exchange it for the name brand for free.
  2. Cook from scratch.
  3. Eliminate convenience food. You can make gallons of soup for the cost of a couple of cans.
  4. Shop the megastores and the local stores for the best deals. Selections and prices vary from place to place and time to time. Compare prices to see if the coupons and other gimmicks really are the best deals for things you need.
  5. Freeze, dehydrate, or can fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season.
  6. Gardening is cheaper - and good exercise. If you have extra fruits, vegetables, and nuts, you can sell them or give them away to friends and neighbors. Your friends and neighbors are likely to reciprocate.
  7. Shop farmers' markets at the end of the day when they are ready to go home.
  8. Use reusable water bottles filled with tap water instead of buying water.
  9. Premium beer. Is it that much better?
  10. Cat litter. Buy the expensive crystals (like Fresh Step Crystals) and add 1/5 scoopable cat litter to the box with the crystals. The crystals are much more expensive but it lasts 4 times longer, making it much cheaper over time. The additional 1/5 scoopable litter keeps the cost down as long you scoop the box every day (no odors and no mess). WARNING: don't flush the crystals! That will cause serious problems with the municipal water supply.
  11. Dinner. If you're desperate to go out, eat dinner at home, then go out and do some window shopping or have dessert.
  12. Does your favorite pizza parlor have a special deal say on maybe a Monday or Tuesday?
  13. Don’t ever pay the menu price for a pizza; there are tons of coupons out there and many places will even honor their competitors coupons.
  14. Instead of eating dinner out, order takeout from the lunch menu of your favorite restaurant. The portion sizes are usually slightly smaller, but less expensive. By ordering takeout, you can also save on drinks and the tip.
  15. Lunch: Brown bag it.
  16. Buy meat in bulk and freeze it in smaller packages.
  17. Less tender cuts of meat are cheaper, can be cooked longer, and have more flavor.
  18. Buy soda at the store, not from the machine at work.
  19. Always look at price per ounce/pound when comparing items.
  20. Real dishes keep you from having to buy paper plates.
  21. Make a shopping list prior to going into the grocery store. Don't impulse buy! Don't shop for food while hungry.
  22. Look at the grocery store ads in the Sunday paper or online. If the stores are not too far from you, shop at more than one, taking full advantage of the sales at each store.
  23. At restaurants with self-serve refills, order the smallest drink. Why pay for more when more is free?

Home Décor, Landscaping, Furnishings and Appliances:

  1. Make your own curtains.
  2. Shop for second-hand home furnishings. A one-year-old couch costs 20% of the price of a new one.
  3. If you need a new appliance, check for scratch and dent stores. A few scratches can mean half-price.
  4. When buying electronics (particularly laptops and Apple products), check the manufacturer's site for refurbished models. Many refurbs carry the same warranty as "new", but for much less.
  5. Check your high school art department for leftover thingamabobs that kids made and forgot to pick up. It won't always look the best but it always adds "character" to an outside area.
  6. Check if your high school has an agriculture dept. By developing a relationship with the ag teacher, sometimes you can get a "trade agreement" whereby you provide some plant clippings the students need and you can get plants/clippings of something you need.


  1. Buy the size of house you need, not the largest house that you can afford.
  2. Learn how to fix your home, but know when to call a professional.


  1. Insurance and taxes are cheaper on older cars. Don't forget to drop collision and comprehensive once the car is worth too little to justify keeping these coverages.
  2. Raise your insurance deductibles.
  3. If you live with someone, ask the insurance company to give you the married discount.
  4. Check to see if you can save money by buying your auto and homeowner's or renter's insurance from the same company.
  5. Compare your auto insurance and homeowner’s insurance rates with a few other companies at least once a year.
  6. If you drive less than 12,000 miles a year, see if you can get a special rate on your insurance.
  7. Don't invest in insurance. Cash-back policies like whole life and variable life are only advantageous for people with very high incomes, and if you are reading this list, chances are you aren't one of those people. Agents like to recommend them due to the high commissions they generate.
  8. If you have any assets at all (including real estate, retirement savings, or even a future inheritance), you should consider getting an Umbrella Policy to cover losses above your normal policy limits. This is very inexpensive but if you have a serious at-fault insurance loss, you don't want your current or future assets at risk. If you have a teen age driver, this is absolutely necessary.


  1. Buy the generic drugs - often made by the same manufacturer.
  2. Exercise causes long-term savings.
  3. Question whether procedures are necessary.
  4. Have the doctor provide you with all test results.
  5. Talk with your doctor regarding your medications. It may be cheaper to buy 50 mg tablets and split them into half than to buy 25 mg tablets.
  6. Check the expiration dates of any over-the-counter medication you buy and choose the package with the latest expiration date.
  7. If you are taking regular medication, and you don't have insurance, consider signing up for a discount card if you will save enough on your prescriptions to cover the fee.


  1. Max your available retirement plans.
  2. Take advantage of Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, and other opportunities to reduce taxes.
  3. Adjust your tax withholding if you're getting large tax refunds and use the increased take home pay for savings and investing during the current year, rather than next.
  4. Most Americans are eligible for free tax prep through IRS Freefile. For those that self-prepare, use FreeFile Fillable Forms to e-file, saving time (faster refund) and a stamp. Your state department of revenue may also sponsor a FreeFile-like system.
  5. Don't get suckered into paying huge fees for a "rapid refund". E-file your return and opt for direct deposit. Most tax refunds are direct deposited in 1-3 weeks after e-filing without a fee.


  1. Join airline frequent flier programs for any airline that you use. However, always choose a lower fare over frequent flier miles. Keep an eye out for other discounts that come along with frequent flier plans.
  2. Take your own food from home, rather than buy food at the airport. You will save money over the airport food and know that you will have real food on the flight.
  3. Avoid flying on Sunday nights, Monday mornings, and Thursday and Friday nights because those are popular travel days and those flights fill up first. You're more likely to find better deals on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
  4. Don't pay for rental car insurance if your own auto insurance or your credit card covers you.
  5. Try or for cheap hotel rooms if your plans will not change.
  6. For Las Vegas and Reno, individual hotel websites usually have cheaper rooms.
  7. For flights, check alternative dates, airports, and look at all of the travel websites
  8. If traveling by car, pack drinks and meals in a cooler. Eat them in a park or rest areas if the weather is nice.
  9. Sign up for the preferred guest list at the hotel chains & always make sure you have them give you credit, even when someone else is paying the bill (like your company). Those points add up.
  10. Use offsite airport parking. The rates are cheaper & the shuttle may pick up & drop off at the airport. Look into a lot's frequent customer and advance reservation incentives.
  11. Schedule your rental car as soon as you know your travel plans. Check back again before you travel, in case rates have gone down. You can cancel most car rental reservations with no penalty at any time, so there's no cost to switch to another company with lower rates.
  12. Taking public transit between the hotel and airport is cheaper than a cab, and sometimes faster.
  13. Preregister for conventions at the time you make your travel arrangements. Conventions generally charge a lower price for preregistered attendees than those who pay at the door.


  1. Wash full loads of dishes and clothes
  2. Get a programmable thermostat. See also utility rebate item below.
  3. Change the filter on your furnace regularly.
  4. Turn down the heat and wear a sweater.
  5. Get a clothes rack or clothesline to dry heavy items like sweats.
  6. Insulation for an uninsulated house pays for itself in lower heating and cooling costs, usually in a short period of time.
  7. Use shades to keep room cool in summer, warmer in winter.
  8. When the time comes to get a new washer, get a front loader - it saves water and energy. Front-loaders cause less wear on clothing, meaning your clothes will last longer. See also utility rebate item below.
  9. The microwave uses less energy than the oven.
  10. Avoid using the oven in the summer. It heats up the house and makes your air conditioner run longer. Cook on the grill, in the microwave, or even the stove. Better yet, plan meals that don't require heat.
  11. Check with you local gas, electric, and water utilities before buying major appliances. They often offer rebates for buying efficient models. This also applies to replacement windows, additional insulation, and sometimes light fixtures or ceiling fans.

Ways to Actively Make Money:

  1. Clip coupons from the newspaper or online for items that you already buy.
  2. Check to see if any stores in your area offer double coupons.
  3. If you have good enough credit to get one, use a rebate credit card and pay it off every month. You must not spend more than you can afford to pay off each month, or you will pay more in interest than you get back.
  4. If you have the money to pay, use 0% financing and keep your money in an interest-bearing account. Be careful of minimum monthly payments and pay the balance electronically or mail it early enough that they can't "lose" the payment and find it just after the due date.
  5. Get a second job.
  6. Rent out a room in your home or get a roommate if you rent.
  7. Sell some of your old stuff on ebay, craigslist, or your local newspaper want ads site.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure - Don't sacrifice quality to save money on:

  1. Health care
  2. Exercise. Every day and don't wait until you have health problems to start!
  3. Car maintenance
  4. Nutritious food
  5. Education: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance
  6. Birth control. It's cheaper than kids. We're not saying not to have them, just that they are very expensive; that's the plain truth and worth some thought first.

Et cetera:

  1. Learn that instant gratification comes with a price and that you are far better off saving and paying cash. Your hard-earned money will go much farther.
  2. Pay yourself first, by putting money in savings; then use the rest of your budget to live on.
  3. You should never finance a depreciating asset--that includes a car. The only thing you should finance is real estate or an education that will help you earn more money.
  4. Don't pay for stuff that you can find for free.
  5. Think about whether an item is necessary or can be had cheaper anytime you buy something.
  6. Get in touch with nature. Urban life is expensive.