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If you sometimes fall prey to holiday overspending, you might want to look for small year-round spending cuts that, when added together, can result in big savings.
It can be tough sticking to your budget any time of the year, but the holiday season presents special challenges with seasonal expenses and temptations. If you sometimes fall prey to holiday overspending, you might want to look for small year-round spending cuts in other areas of your life that, when added together, can result in big savings.
Here are a few suggestions:
- If you have low-deductible homeowner's, renter's or auto insurance, ask how much your premiums would drop by raising the deductible to $500 or $1,000–it could be 15 to 30 percent or more.
- Cancel phone and cable services, magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, and other "extras" you're not using.
- Kick bad habits. Smoking can cost you thousands of dollars per year, not to mention additional medical and lost-work costs.
In the home:
- By lowering your thermostat 10° to 15° for eight hours, you can reduce your heating bill by 10 percent or more. For a $400 monthly bill, that's $40 in savings.
- Insulate your water heater and outgoing pipes to reduce heat loss and save 4 to 9 percent in water-heating costs. Also, try lowering the temperature to 120° for additional savings.
- Try using energy-efficient light bulbs that use 25 to 80 percent less energy – saving you money every month.
In the car:
- Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking) wastes gas and can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway. By driving sensibly, you could save about $1.20 for each $3.65 gallon of gas.
- Fuel economy drops rapidly at higher speeds. For each 5 mph you exceed 60 mph, it's like paying an additional $0.29 per gallon of gas.
- Avoid keeping unnecessary heavy items in your car – each extra 100 pounds reduces your mpg by up to 2 percent.
Health care tips:
- Consider generic instead of brand-name drugs; copayments are usually much lower.
- Ask whether your insurance offers quantity discounts for mail-order prescriptions. Often, the copayment for a 60- or 90-day supply is the same as a 30-day supply at a regular pharmacy.
By trimming a few dollars here and there, you can save up enough to get you through the holidays and start a vacation fund for next summer.