The April issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine features 50 money-saving ideas from our readers. However, we received thousands of responses from people who wanted to share their ways to keep more cash. Here are eight bonus ideas for our readers that aren't in the magazine. Want to lower your auto insurance premiums, save money when building a home, and keep more cash in your pocket when dining out? Click through our slide show, which begins to your right.
I saved by building my home online. I shopped locally to find what I wanted then went online and purchased everything for less than half the cost at eBay and various stores. That included granite countertops, light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, and even the kitchen sink. I bought a $1,500 designer vanity brand new for just $150. If I hadn't shopped online, I would not have been able to build the home I have now. We call it our eBay home. -- Karen Hunter, Venetia, Pa.
As soon as I became eligible for my company's 401(k) retirement plan, I immediately began deferring 5% of my paycheck to receive the full company match. You can't beat a consistent 100% return on your investment. -- David Sawyer, Minneapolis
SAVE WHAT YOU SPEND
Each week or month, take the total amount you spent on non-essentials (movies, clothes, eating out, etc.), match that amount and put it in a savings account. After several months, take the total and put it in a certificate of deposit or a low-cost mutual fund. You'd be amazed at how much money you spend on non-essentials—but also at how much you put away! -- Melanie Turner, Kingsport, Tenn.
Monitor your credit-card accounts online to look for mistakes or fraud before the statement is generated. That way, you can fix things before an automatic payment kicks in, or before you have to write a check for an inflated amount or risk getting flagged for a late payment due to a contested charge. -- Bob Murdoch, Brielle, N.J.
AFFORDABLE AUTO INSURANCE
I didn't allow myself to buy my first car until I found auto insurance for less than $1,000. After shopping around, I finally found a policy for $900. When I recently renewed my policy, my premium was $426. What happened? I turned 25, an old accident was removed from my record, and I took an online defensive driving course from AARP for $19.95. In addition, I allowed Geico to take my credit into consideration. Geico sent me a letter asking permission, and because I have a good credit score, I sent it back in haste! -- Keisha Fuller, Atlanta
Using entertainment discount books (opens in new tab) allows you to dine at nice restaurants for half the normal cost. The books are available for more than 150 cities and cost from $27 to $47, depending on the location. For me, the book pays for itself after about two uses. It also offers a wide array of discounts at local stores. -- Felix Wong, Fort Collins, Colo.
MANAGE YOUR CREDIT
I am now 24 years old, and I've spent the past few years building my credit record. Throughout college I carefully managed my credit cards and paid them all off completely before any interest could be tacked on. As a result of managing my credit and building my credit score, I was fortunate to lock in a low interest rate of just over 5% on my car loan. -- David Sawyer, Minneapolis
I usually take about five minutes at the end of each day to record my spending. I account for every dollar, regardless of how trivial the expense. This helps me create a budget, determine whether my spending is on track and analyze expenses that I can further reduce or eliminate. -- Felix Wong, Fort Collins, Colo.
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