50 Best Money-Saving Tips of the Year
Another year is coming to an end, presenting a chance to reflect on what we learned during the past 12 months. From electricity costs to credit cards, we've covered it all on Cheapism.com. Continue on to see 50 of the best money-saving, reward-earning, and frugal-living tips from 2014.
2. A Disney trip is possible on a budget if you plan in advance. Find discounted tickets; bring your own food and beverages; stay at value hotels; think twice about the Park Hopper pass; go during the off-season; and bring your own souvenirs.
4. When should you negotiate? More often than you might expect. With market information in hand, go straight to the manager at a rental car agency or hotel and try to wrangle a deal. Even if the price doesn't budge, try getting more value for your dollar with an upgraded car or room, neither of which costs the company any extra.
5. Smart thermostats are hot right now -- they learn your preferences and can be controlled from afar -- but even a cheap programmable thermostat (set at a reasonable temperature) can save you a lot of money.
10. Veterans can take advantage of a slew of discounts year-round. Lowe's and Home Depot, for example, offer a 10 percent discount to active and retired members of the armed forces and those receiving Veterans Affairs benefits.
14. Many consumers are joining the cord-cutting revolution. With a smart TV or a streaming media player instead of a cable subscription, monthly entertainment costs can dip to less than $10 per month and you'll still have plenty to watch.
16. Instead of buying bottled juices or doing a pricey, prepackaged cleanse, consider a home juicer. The time commitment and cleanup aren't for everyone, so start with a cheap juicer and upgrade if you're still using it months later.
17. When shopping online, check several sites before clicking "order." RetailMeNot finds coupon codes; Saveful compares the total price (inclusive of shipping and coupons) of identical products at multiple sites; Gift Card Granny shows you where to buy gift cards at a discount; and Mr. Rebates lets you earn cash back when shopping at any of 2,000-plus ecommerce sites.
18. Upgrade your house with energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. The initial investment will pay for itself over time and the planet will thank you. Not sure where to start? Enervee rates electronics based on their efficiency relative to similar products.
20. Avoid purchasing items that (let's be honest) you probably won't use more than once, such as formalwear (rent instead), specialty kitchen appliances (they lose their novelty quickly), power tools (rent from home improvement stores or borrow from local lending sources), and items you're buying only because they're deeply discounted.
25. Make this the year to zero-out fees. Buy a router or modem and stop renting one from your internet provider; switch to fee-free checking and ATM use at Charles Schwab, Ally Bank, Bank of Internet, or USAA Bank (for members and relatives of military members and veterans); and get a credit card that doesn't charge extra for foreign transactions when you travel.
27. Save money on razors by drying them after each use. This simple step can prolong the life of a razor blade by months. For even more savings, consider switching to a service that delivers inexpensive blades.
35. Looking for an interesting vacation stop that's cheap or free and just a little offbeat? Try Death Valley in California, free kayaking and canoeing in New York City, the "American Stonehenge" in Georgia, the Golden Driller in Oklahoma, or Natural Rock Face in Alaska.
36. These days many retailers manage to compete with Walmart on price, especially online, but Cheapism.com identified 10 types of merchandise that are still cheapest at Walmart: school supplies, air conditioners, brand-name groceries, baby products, razors, cleaning supplies, feminine products, contact lens solution, sunscreen, and laundry detergent.
39. Small business owners looking to attend conferences can save money or even go for free by volunteering, speaking, or being a sponsor. Book early and split the cost of transportation or accommodations with other attendees. If the conference price is still out of reach, try to attend the after-parties and networking events -- often the most valuable part.
41. Forget about spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a wedding cake. Ask skilled friends or family members to bake the cake(s) as a wedding present. Only one small cake needs to be gussied up for presentation -- the rest can be decorated simply and held in the back before being served to guests.
45. Whole Foods doesn't always eat your whole paycheck. In a side-by-side comparison, Cheapism.com found 25 items that actually cost less than they do at Safeway. The list includes organic whole milk, shredded mozzarella, pretzels, pasta sauce, organic balsamic vinegar, and cream cheese.
46. Chrysanthemums, carnations, and alstroemerias (Peruvian lilies) cost less than roses and last longer. No matter what type of flowers you send, call a local florist near the recipient instead of ordering online. You'll often save money or get a better bouquet for the same price.
49. Amazon recently announced a new option that lets shoppers name the price they want to pay on collectibles and fine art. Priceline and Hotwire do the same for travel (check Better Bidding first for tips); Score Big handles event tickets; and Greentoe offers photography equipment, home theater items, baby products, and more. No guarantees that you'll close the deal.