Whether it's popcorn or your next vacation—start saving!
By Amanda Robb
#1 Choose stationery Some birthday cards are five bucks, while gorgeous—even personalized—notecards run about a dollar each.
#2 Discover best-price offers Most large stores have a 14-day price guarantee, and many provide a "best price" guarantee, which means they'll refund the difference between what you paid and the sale price, plus up to 20 percent. Check out cairo.com to track advertised sale prices even after you've made your purchase. The site will even e-mail you if your item is sold for less by another merchant.
#3 Don't throw it away You know those clothes the kids outgrew and that juicer you never used? Frugal Living for Dummies' Deborah Taylor-Hough recommends unloading them at a yard sale. She says she knows one family that made more than $1,000!
#4 Take advantage of discounts Students can get tickets to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for $25 to $35. AAA members get discounts at hotels and at Hertz. Each time you join an organization or a new company, examine its benefits package for discount offers.
#5 Find free banking Some banks charge more than $100 a year to maintain a checking account. Others offer free checking only if you maintain a minimum balance of $1,500. But banks like Capitol Federal Savings Bank and the online NetBank offer accounts that don't require minimums. To locate the best deal for you, track your account activity for a month and then compare banking fees in your area at bankrate.com.
#6 Forgo warranty extensions Most electronic products come with year-long warranties, and many credit card companies provide extensions and theft protection. Ron Berry, senior vice president at the Council of Better Business Bureaus, also notes that many extended warranties offered by retailers duplicate coverage in the original warranty or exclude so many items that they may not be worth the extra cost.
#7 Learn to sew If you don't know how, ask your mom. Or, log on to ehow.com. My dry cleaner charges as much as $2 a button. Meanwhile, a spool of thread and package of needles together typically cost less than two bucks.
#8 Research package deals Consolidate home phone-Internet-cell phone, or Internet-cable-phone service and car-home-life insurance. The exact savings will depend on where you live and what services you choose. But the high-speed Internet, cable and landline phone package I got in October 2004 is $60 a month less than what I paid for the same services in 2003.
#9 Negotiate gym dues Ask your fitness center to meet a comparable facility's promotional price.
#10 Subscribe to your favorite magazines You can save up to 90 percent off newsstand price.