spending

Save Money on Practically Everything, 2011: Necessities -- Food and Meds

Restaurant.com. The site guarantees discounts of at least 50% at more than 15,000 restaurants.

Deals on meals

These sites take a bite out of restaurant prices.

Here's how to serve up a discount at a nice restaurant in the city of your choice.

Restaurant.com. The site guarantees discounts of at least 50% at more than 15,000 restaurants. Recent deal: $20 for a $50 dinner at Ravish, a tapas-style restaurant in Seattle.SAVINGS: $30.

Wow-coupons.com. This aggregator offers deals at restaurants, retailers and even other discounters. Recent deal: 40% off the $20 price of a $50 Restaurant.com certificate.SAVINGS: $8.

Groupon.com. Buy with a group and get the discount du jour. Recent deal: $20 for $40 in food and drinks at Appaloosa Grill in Denver.SAVINGS: $20.

Livingsocial.com. As with Groupon, this site invites you to join a group to get the deal of the day. Recent deal: $25 for a $50 meal at Buck's Fishing & Camping, in Washington, D.C.SAVINGS: $25.

TOTAL ANNUAL SAVINGS: $240 (save $20 once a month)

Brown bag it

But splurge on Fridays.

According to research by Harris Interactive, 45% of U.S. adults packed their lunches last fall. No wonder: A 12-inch turkey-breast-and-ham sub with chips and a drink runs about $8 at Subway. Buy a loaf of bread, lunchmeat, cheese, and fruit or chips for the week and you’ll spend a much more palatable $3 or so a day. To add variety, cook enough over the weekend to last several days -- say, a pot of soup or a pasta dish -- or pack last night’s dinner leftovers.ANNUAL SAVINGS: $1,040 (packing four days a week)

Veg out at dinner

Beat the rising cost of meat and eggs.

The price index for meat, fish, poultry and eggs is up the most of any food category over the past year. All the more reason to go vegetarian once or twice a week. Compare $1 per serving for four-bean enchiladas (www.frugal-living-now.com) with $2.50 a serving for chicken breasts. A family of four saves $6 a meal.ANNUAL SAVINGS: $624 (going meatless twice weekly)

Healthy savings

Triple tax savings and cut drug expenses in half.

Health savings accounts let you stretch your health-care dollars with a triple tax benefit: Money that you contribute to an account is tax-deductible, grows tax-deferred and can be used tax-free for medical expenses in any year. To qualify, your health-insurance policy must have a deductible of at least $1,200 for self-only coverage (or $2,400 for family coverage). You can contribute up to $3,050 to an HSA in 2011 ($6,150 for family coverage).ANNUAL SAVINGS: $854. (for 28% bracket and maxing out self-only contributions)

Saving on drugs is possible using several strategies. When feasible, buying generics should be your first step. And you should ask your doctor whether you can save money by splitting any of your pills. For example, the cost of a 30-day supply of 10-milligram tablets of Crestor is the same as it is for 20-mg tablets. That can result in a $63-a-month savings. But the single best strategy, aside from using generics, is buying your medications through mail order, where you may be able to get a 90-day supply for about the same price as a 30-day supply at a local pharmacy. Example: You'd save almost $95 per month on Lipitor.ANNUAL SAVINGS: $1,140.

TOTAL ANNUAL SAVINGS: $1,994

Lift a glass for less

Savor these great deals on red, white and brew.

Rather than a pricey Bordeaux, such as Château Batailley Pauillac 2009 ($40), try Amancaya 2009 ($20), a Bordeaux-style blend made in Argentina. It’s a joint effort between local winemaker Catena and France’s Domaines Barons de Rothschild.SAVINGS: $20.

For a white, try South Africa’s Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc Groenekloof 2009 ($18), instead of New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2009 ($27).SAVINGS: $9.

Beer drinkers can try Yuengling Porter at $6 a six-pack. America’s oldest brewery produces a rich porter that challenges dark brews from Europe and American microbrews costing $10 or more a six-pack.SAVINGS: $4.

TOTAL ANNUAL SAVINGS: $222 (one bottle of wine and a six-pack per month)

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