insurance

photo by ClevelandSGS
Frugality often seems like a lot of effort for a few cents. But it's about making better choices that save larger amounts, too. Maybe you have a goal to pay down debt, such as your mortgage. One extra payment per year can shave a few years off your loan. But it's tough sometimes to get everyone in your family on board when they can't see the big picture. One way to get them to listen is to talk about the bigger ways to save money.

INSURANCE: Look to see whether you can raise your deductible to save. Consider shopping for new insurance and see whether you can find better rates, too. Have all of your insurance at one company to get a discount. Take a defensive-driving class to get a discount, too. When calling insurance companies, ask them about senior, student, professional organization or group, multi-car, mileage and safety discounts. Try to pay yearly versus monthly, and have your bill auto-deducted instead of mailed. And while you're trying to save on your automobile costs, consider parking the gas guzzler and driving a smaller car, car-pooling, using public transportation, or walking or riding a bike more often.

DITCH CONVENIENCE: Packaged foods are costly. Chop your own vegetables, slice and grate your own cheese, make your own snacks, try a homemade pizza, cut back or cut out soft drinks, and pack your lunch. While you're at it, when shopping try some store-brand foods or buy in bulk. Start a garden. You can start from seed, buy smaller, less expensive plants or bare-root perennials, share with family and friends, and shop seasonal garden sales. Speaking of ditching convenience, delay spending on items until they're on sale. For a handy reference calendar on the best time to buy items, visit my forums at www.frugalvillage.com/forums for "Annual sales and seasonal discounts."

PRESCRIPTIONS: Shop for less expensive prescriptions. Check to see whether your local pharmacies have rewards for transferring or promotional rewards for keeping your prescription with them. Check to see whether mail-ordered prescriptions will save you money. If you don't have prescription coverage, contact Partnership for Prescription Assistance www.pparx.org, 888-4PPA-NOW (888-477-2669), to connect you with programs to help meet your prescription needs. Visit Destination RX, www.drx.com, for price comparisons. Talk to your doctor, too. He or she might be able to offer prescription samples or coupons, tell you whether a generic option is effective and available or whether your prescription can be pill splitted. Check drug manufacturer's Web sites for coupons or Internet drug coupons (www.internetdrugcoupons.com), but be sure to call your pharmacy to check if coupons are accepted and to verify prices.

BUNDLE AND NEGOTIATE: Pay for Internet access, phone and television from the same company to save money. Call them, and simply ask if they offer any discounts. Often times, you can get your premium channels at a discounted rate for a limited time. Call around and see which company is offering the best deal and see whether your current provider will give you a discount for staying with them. If not, make the switch. You can also pare down to basic features to save, too. Many people are completely cutting out cable television or their landline telephones in favor of cell phones.

HOST A SWAP PARTY: Gather friends and family for a swap party to save on the cost of clothes, toys, household items, etc. Clean out the closets, and anything you don't swap, you can try to sell.