download (18)25 Solid-Gold Ways to Save


Buy the Smaller Package
Yep, you read that right. Some supermarkets and drugstores charge more per unit for the supersize product. At my grocery store, the price for a 200-ounce bottle of Tide worked out to $3.71 a quart; the 100-ounce bottle, $3.52. Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail cost $2.66 a quart in the larger size, $2.29 in the smaller size.

Don’t Miss Discounts
If you’re lingering at Starbucks, you can bring a reusable travel mug and get a 10-cent discount on any beverage, depending on the location.

Slash your prescription budget
Have your doctor write you a prescription for pills containing double your usual dose and cut the pills in half. Savings can be considerable: A prescription for 30 pills of a 50 milligram dose of Zoloft at costs $96; 30 of the 100 milligram pills cost just $9 more. Some medications work only when swallowed whole, so ask the doc before you start slicing.

Check the Total
Many online stores make up for a free-shipping policy with higher prices. charged $250 for a pair of BCBG Max Azria booties, for example, that had on sale for $175 plus $8 shipping.

Purchase Glasses Online
Using the prescription from your last eye exam, you can order a pair for as little as $40—the better Websites walk you through the process of taking measurements and selecting the right-size frames. You may not find designer frames, but these cheapies are fine for shuffling around the house before you put your contacts in.

Swap Books and CDs
Websites make it easy to trade used books and records for titles you want. and these three others are a great place to start.

Join a Ticket Club
In big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York, online ticket distributor helps theaters and clubs get rid of unsold seats by offering last-minute discounts to members; tickets are sometimes offered free when a theater needs to generate word-of-mouth for a little-known show. You can also find good deals through, where people resell tickets they can’t use.

Choose Refurbished
When consumers return products after opening the box, computer, electronics, and appliance manufacturers make any necessary repairs and resell returned goods as “factory refurbished.” If you buy direct from the manufacturer’s website, this lightly used gear often comes with a warranty.

Change Your Calling Plan Because You Can
Until recently, cell phone companies wouldn’t let customers convert to a cheaper plan unless they extended their contract another year or two. Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T have announced that customers can now switch their minute allowance, text, or data options without repercussion.

Get Free (and Souped Up) 411.
Dial 800-GOOG-411, tell the nice computer what you’re looking for, and Google does the rest. When I asked for a French restaurant in Brooklyn, it named 10 popular spots, sent a text message containing the address and phone number of my selection, and connected me to the restaurant so I could make a reservation.

Ask For a Break
I’m good about paying bills on time, but this year I got slapped with a late fee for missing a credit card payment. When I called to explain the circumstances (a snafu with my online checking account), the customer service rep immediately dropped the late fee—and asked if there was anything else she could help with.

Find the Cheapest Airfare
The best time to find a low fare is in the morning, says Keith Melnick, vice president of travel site Airfares are sometimes reset overnight, and the best pickings are available before East Coast workers get to the office. Look for flights departing Saturday, when fares are often cheapest; avoid Monday mornings and Thursday evenings, when flights are crowded with business travelers. Book as far in advance as possible—the chance of a price drop is slim, and should one occur, many airlines will credit you the difference upon request.

Rent Local
I rent cars from an independent shop that usually charges half what the big chains do—so what if that Ford Focus is a little scratched up? There’s a cheap option in nearly every city, like City Rent-a-Car in San Francisco, which offers cars for as little as $25 a day.

Buy a Wallet-Friendly Car
Car costs don’t stop with the monthly auto-loan payment: According to AAA, an SUV costs 73.9 cents a mile to drive compared with 43.3 cents for a typical small sedan when you factor in such costs as insurance, repairs, and depreciation. Before you head to the dealership, compare the five-year “true cost to own” of any vehicle model at consumer car guide

Craigslist Your Overseas Stay
Following the advice of friends, my sister and I went to Craigslist Paris to find a place to stay the week. We found a beautiful two-bedroom apartment with wrap-around balconies in the trendy Canal St-Martin neighborhood for $1,100—a fraction of what we’d have paid for a decent hotel—and cooking in saved money on meals. (We checked references from previous renters—obviously—before sending a security deposit.)

Call Hong Kong for Free lets you chat for free with people around the world (participating countries only) for as long as you
please. Enter your home or cell number and a friend’s number at the website. Talkster issues a set of local numbers you can call to connect. The catch: You have to listen to a 10-second ad.

Seek Out Appliance Discounts
A number of state and local programs will rebate part of the purchase price of an energy-efficient appliance. The city of Gainesville, Florida, offers a $100 rebate on a clothes dryer or kitchen range; New Jersey provides up to $400 on central air. A list of incentives organized by state is at

Give a Dog a Bone
Big rawhide chews cost $9.99 at Instead, you can ask the butcher for a beef shinbone—you might pay a dollar or even get it for free. My dog, Louis, loves them.

Discover the Coupon
Just about every online store offers discounts through “secret” coupon codes. Find them at coupon sites such as While every coupon site offers a searchable database of codes, RetailMeNot uses shopper input to track which codes actually work and under what conditions.

Abandon Your Cart
Leave that dress in your online shopping cart. Your seemingly feckless ways may trigger the retailer’s system to e-mail you a discount coupon—10 percent off is typical. It’s hard to predict when this will work, so don’t try unless you’re willing to miss out on a purchase.

Begin a Biweekly Payment Plan
By sending in half your monthly mortgage payment every two weeks, you make the equivalent of one extra payment a year. Following this schedule on a $300,000, 30-year mortgage would save you $77,000 in interest over the life of the loan.

Arbitrage Your Gift Cards
There are millions of dollars’ worth of unused store gift cards lying around. If you have one, you can sell or swap it at You can also buy gift cards at a discount averaging 15 percent off the card’s face value. Sample deals: a $1,000 Tiffany gift card selling for $875; a $336 Lucky Brand Jeans card for $245. There’s no risk—PlasticJungle verifies the balance on each card.

Maintain Certain Debts
In the past 50 years, an investment in the nation’s 500 largest companies grew at an average rate of 7.8 percent. Of course, there is no guarantee what future market returns will be, but the long-term historical trend is considered a solid guide. If the interest rate on your student loan or mortgage loan is significantly lower than that, you’ll likely have more cash in the long run by investing in the stock market rather than paying your loan off early.

Read the Classics for Free
Amazon offers thousands of free Kindle downloads, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

Ditch the paper products.
Cloth napkins over paper is a no-brainer (cloth instead of paper for a family of four adds up to $12 savings per year), but you can also swap your paper coffee filters for a metal mesh filter (saving $8 this year after paying for the new filter, and about $18 annually thereafter), paper towels for dish rags (annual savings: $40), and memo pads for a mini chalkboard ($15 this year). Total savings: $75 (plus a lot of trees).