It's Common Cents Week here on the PIX11 Morning News. We're covering everything from where to sell your old gold jewelry to how to save for your future. But first, we're kicking things off by pinch pennies! We caught up with "Real Simple" magazine to learn easy ways to save big on everyday expenses including grocery shopping, beauty products, entertainment, clothing, pets, cars, dining out and medical expenses.
Shop at a dollar store: While you'll want to get your fresh produce and dairy from your local grocery store, you can actually find great bargains on other grocery items at your local dollar store. In addition to the canned and packaged goods you'd expect, many stores are adding refrigerated and frozen cases, and stocking gourmet items at reduced prices. Things to look for here are frozen fruits and veggies, dry goods, snacks, and drinks. Not everything you'll find will cost just $1, but prices at these stores are significantly lower.
Learn menu tricks: When dining out, remember a few things about navigating a menu and you can avoid spending more than you want to. First, if the menu doesn't print dollar signs next to the prices of items, people tend to spend 8% more (according to a study by the Culinary Institute of America and the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration), so imagine they are there and you'll think about the prices more realistically. Second, think twice about selections printed on a menu's top right-hand corner. Your eye goes there first, so a lot of restaurants list their most expensive dishes there.
Be smart about wine: Even if you're at a cheap restaurant, drinks can quickly add up, especially wine. When possible, BYOB. Restaurants typically make up the price of wine 50-75%, so call ahead to make sure it's okay to bring your own, then pick up a bottle before dinner. If you have to order from the restaurant, you'll get the best deal if you order by the bottle, because of the markup on single glasses. Even if you're only planning on having one glass, order the bottle and take the rest home. All 50 states now have laws allowing you to do so, just check with the restaurant to find out how to package and transport it.
Request a three-month prescription: This option, given mostly for birth control or medications that treat chronic conditions, like diabetes and arthritis, can reduce costs up to 33 percent (compared with paying monthly).
Consider generics: According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a person under the age of 65 could save an average of $46 annually by substituting generics for brand-name drugs.
Offer to pay in cash, up front: Doing so may cut 10 to 30 -percent off your bill. (This is commonly referred to as a "prompt-pay discount.")
Buy movie tickets in bulk: You can purchase four-packs of tickets at a discount ($2 to $3 off a ticket on average) from eight different major theater chains at bulktix.com.
Online shopping tricks: When shopping online, always do a quick google search for coupon codes before checking out. You can sometimes find promotions for free shipping (save $5-10) or discounts for 10-20% off. Useful sites are: couponcabin.com, coupons.com, and coolsavings.com. Another sneaky trick that actually works: Fill your online cart with the items you plan to purchase, but at the last minute, cancel your order. If it's a company you've shopped with before and they already have your information, they'll often send you an email right away offering a promo code for the items you were going to buy.
Go for durability: One way to save money on clothes (or almost anything) is to ensure that your purchases will last a long time. When buying jeans, choose a dark wash. Denim companies launder items repeatedly to lighten the color. Deeper shades are handled less, so they'll last longer. And add a little stretch: Jeans with 2% spandex will not only hug your curves but will better maintain their shape over time.
For kids, buy a size up: When you have young, fast-growing kids, buy their clothes one size up. They'll be cute and baggy for a little while, but they'll eventually grow into them and you'll avoid buying new things with every growth spurt.
Don't be afraid of house brands: When a house-brand product is packaged very similarly to a brand-name one, it probably contains the same ingredients as its more famous twin. Think of them as generic pharmaceuticals almost exactly alike except for the price tag. Just make sure the first few ingredients are the same and in the same order.
Wash your hair less often
and your products will last longer. How ever often you currently wash your hair, try cutting back one day.
New uses for household things: If you do cut down on washing your hair, you don't have to buy an expensive dry shampoo for the in-between days. Baby powder works just as well if you're on a budget. Dryer sheets can also tame static hair.
Splurge vs. Save: Most people are used to buying shampoo and conditioner in pairs, but it might be worth it to start buying them separately. While you still might want to splurge on your conditioner to reap all the benefits, feel free to save when buying your shampoo. They are designed to cleanse the hair, and any fancy ingredients will probably go down the drain with the suds. If you have normal, non-chemically treated hair, most drugstore shampoos will do the trick. Garnier Fructis Fortifying Shampoo is only $4 and is touted by hairstylists as a great inexpensive shampoo.
Forget that 'every 3000 miles' rule: AAA found that 95% of drivers had oil changes too frequently. Only heavily used cars such as taxis need changes that often, so opt for the oil change every 7,500 mi. instead, and you'll slash your auto-repair bills significantly.
Get the little fixes now: To avoid pricier repairs later, like replacing an entire windshield ($500-1,200), get the little fixes now, like fixing one small chip ($100.)
Get free advice & learn the lingo: When it comes to repairs, the more you know, the more you'll save. Get free DIY advice from YouTube videos like "askthebuilder" and "When to Hire a Pro," and check out sites like moneypit.com and diynetwork.com to learn the lingo before calling a contractor you'll be better informed and less likely to get taken advantage of if you speak the language.
Cut your homeowners insurance: Many insurers offer 5% discounts to home owners who add smoke alarms and dead bolts to their homes. Or, boost your deductable increasing it from $200 to $1,000 may save you as much as 25% on insurance costs annually.
Groom midweek: Friday through Monday is the busiest time at pet salons, so many charge 20% less for midweek appointments.