Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tips For Saving Money During The Holidays (And All Year 'Round)

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them the one thought that consumes hearts and minds across the land:

How am I going to pay for all this stuff?

Short of giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to your MasterCard, one way to beat the holiday budget blues is by tightening up elsewhere. Naturally, this means you can afford to spend more on others, who in return will do the same for you. Either that, or you can make them feel like a heel throughout the upcoming year.

Here, according to the fine folk at WalletPop, are ten areas in which you can save some serious scratch by going the do-it-yourself route:

  • Text messaging. Unless you text a ton and have an unlimited plan, those OMG's will leave you saying just that when you get the bill. According to the Chicago Tribune, the average phone carrier realizes a profit of 6,000% on each message. Which is nothing to LOL about when you're paying for it.

  • Bottled water. No, this isn't some PC environmental deal, although that does figure into the matter. It's more the 4,000% markup we pay every time we buy a bottle of water instead of drinking from the tap. Granted, sometimes there's little choice in the matter. However, whenever possible grab a glass or refillable bottle.

  • Popcorn at a movie theater. Yes, eating popcorn while watching the latest flick is almost mandatory behavior. But the 1,275% markup should be enough to make anyone decide they can live without for a couple of hours.

  • Brand name prescription drugs. Unless there is no generic for whatever your doctor prescribes, always ask for the generic. In the past year, brand name drugs have increased in price by an average of 10% while generics have had a price decrease. Add this to the already far higher cost of brand names (anywhere from 200% to 3,000%)... you get the idea.

  • Mini bar in a hotel room. Unless shelling out a 300% to 400% markup is your idea of a fun time, do not open that door!

  • Coffee. No, no one's suggesting you abstain altogether from the stuff. (Unless you're like me and allergic to caffeine. But I digress.) No, where to steer clear is coffee shops. At a 300% markup over what you'd pay to brew a cup at home, a thermos would be a wise investment.

  • Wine at a restaurant. If ever you wanted a reason to stop drinking, the 300% markup should do the trick.

  • Greeting cards. 200% markup, or sending someone a hand-written note? Your call.

  • In-room movies at a hotel. At a 200% markup, you're better off watching the local news. Or movies on your laptop.

  • Pre-cut fruit and vegetable platters. Save 40% by doing your own chopping, slicing and dicing.

Now, there is one area the story missed...

  • Not having both your Auto and Homeowners insurance with CSE. Do you really want to miss out on taking 14% off your Auto policy and 10% off your Homeowners policy? Didn't think so.

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