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Money-saving tips plentiful; small changes add up

Don’t buy a tech device just as a new version comes out, David Pogue says.
Yahoo
Don’t buy a tech device just as a new version comes out, David Pogue says.

Who doesn’t want to save money? You’ve probably heard basic money-saving advice, such as never buy an expensive item on impulse. Wait a day or two and mull it over.

Then there’s the old standby tip: Put aside your loose change from your wallet or pocket every day. At the rate of 50 cents a day, you would have a small emergency fund of $182.50 in a year. But making small changes can add up, too

AARP’s fifth annual ‘‘99 Great Ways to Save,’’ published this month in AARP Bulletin, provides some interesting tips from experts in home improvement, finance, food, and more.

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To see all 99 ways to save, go to aarp.org and search for “99 great ways to save.”

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Even if you’ve heard them before, it’s good to be reminded how little effort some saving tips take.

Home improvement expert Bob Vila’s tips include:

 Unplug it! ‘‘Vampire’’ electronics consume power even when turned off. A typical household can save $100 a year using smart power strips, which cut electricity to devices in standby mode.

 Install a low-flow showerhead. You won’t even notice the difference, Vila says, because a low-flow fixture reduces the volume of water but does not affect the water pressure.

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Yahoo Tech founder David Pogue offers these tips:

 Learn when new gadgets come out, so you don’t buy something just before it’s made obsolete. In general, a new iPhone model debuts each September, and a new iPad every November. New cameras come out in February and October, and everything else is timed for the holidays.

 Consider a prepaid cellphone. You pay before you make calls, instead of after you’ve made them.

 Talk to far-away family members using an app like Skype, which is available for smartphones, tablets, and computers, or FaceTime, for Apple phones, tablets, and computers. You chat for free over the Internet.

Jean Chatzky, AARP financial ambassador says:

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 Shop around for insurance. Auto insurers have a tactic called ‘‘price optimization.’’ They raise premiums based not on your risk factor, but on how much of an increase they believe you will accept. When it’s time to renew, ask your current insurer to do better.

 You can get your credit score for free at creditkarma.com and credit.com.

 At what age should you start collecting Social Security? The magic number is 80. If you’re single and you think you will live past it, wait until age 70 to begin collecting, to receive the maximum benefit. For couples, as long as you believe one of you will live past 80, the higher earner should delay as long as possible.

Tips from Holly Phillips, internist and medical contributor for CBS News:

 Switch to generic drugs. The price is usually lower, as well as the copay.

 Don’t smoke. Cigarette smokers pay more for insurance and require more medications and doctors visits. Cigarette smoking costs the United States up to $333 billion annually, including at least $130 billion in health care costs.

 Ask about independent facilities for radiologic tests. Having an MRI at a hospital costs an average of $1,200, but the same procedure at independent facilities costs about half that.

 Take advantage of wellness benefits. Many employers offer incentives for participation in exercise and other health programs. Insurance companies may offer a payment to those with gym memberships.

 Take your medications regularly. Many costly hospital visits are for conditions (like asthma or high blood pressure) that were managed well with medications until they worsened when the patients skipped doses.

Tips from Samantha Brown, AARP’s travel ambassador:

 For cheaper flights, look to the earliest and latest flights of the day.

 For weekend travel, stay in a business hotel. The road warriors are gone and so are the high prices. These hotels will be in the business district, which isn’t always the most vibrant part of town. But that’s a small trade-off if you gett a good deal.

 Avoid conventions. Cities such as Washington, Las Vegas, and Orlando have the best hotel rates when conventions are not in town. Check out a city’s official tourism website under Convention Calendar to spot the best times for a visit.

 Head to ski resorts in summer and beach locations in late August or early September.

 If hotel rates seem sky-high, there are often cheaper alternatives. Consider finding a room on sites like homeaway.com and airbnb.com; you’ll pay less and feel like a local.