Clip coupons strategically
Thanks to the sagging economy, coupon use
surged 27 percent in 2009, the first increase
since 1992. But you no longer have to devote your
Sundays to cutting up newspaper inserts. Easy-to-use Web tools can slash your grocery bills by
50 percent in 15 minutes a week. The trick is to
use coupons only when the item is also on sale.
First, start saving your Sunday coupon circulars for at least a month. Then, once a week, go
to couponmom.com or hotcouponworld.com.
You’ll see every item on sale where you live,
along with the date of the corresponding coupon. You can also customize your search
to find items that are free if you combine a
manufacturer’s coupon with a store’s coupon.
DINE OUT WITH DISCOUNTS
Shop your pantry
You’ve probably heard the advice “shop your
closet,” which means taking a fresh look at the
clothes you own instead of hitting the mall.
Leamy’s twist: Shop your pantry. Once a month
skip going to the supermarket for a week (
except for perishables such as milk) and use up
your canned and frozen food. Rotating pantry
staples will pay off big. Leamy saves as much as
25 percent on groceries each month—though
for this to work, she points out, you must have a
weekly grocery budget—and not exceed it.
Slash your mutual fund fees
You can save more than 80 percent on mutual
Sign up for restaurant alerts
fund expenses—leaving you more money to
invest—by choosing low-cost funds. An index
fund (which mirrors the holdings of a market
yardstick such as the S&P 500) generally costs
less than an “active” fund (which picks stocks
and may charge a “load” fee upfront and man-
agement fees). The fees on active funds average
1. 22 percent of assets each year—far more than
the 0.18 percent, for example,
charged by the Vanguard 500
index fund. Exchange-traded
funds (ETFs)—similar to index
funds except that they trade on
stock exchanges—have fees com-
parable to index funds.
Go to your favorite chains’ sites and become a
member of their free clubs, such as Boston
Market’s VIP club or TGI Friday’s Give Me
More Stripes. The restaurants offer their members discounts, freebies, and other perks.
Save big with small plates
to a chain
such as Shop
provide a one-
stop source of
The latest dining-out trend—small-plate
menus—is also easy on the wallet. “More and
more restaurants are introducing small-plate
menus that remove the shame that has plagued
entrée sharers,” says Douglas Trattner, dining
editor at Cleveland Scene. Splitting three or
four small plates costing $5 to $8 apiece lets
you sample more dishes while spending less.
Profit from discount-
brokerage price wars
Charles Schwab, E-Trade, Fidelity,
and Scottrade have been slashing
stock and bond commissions to lure back inves-
tors lost during the economic meltdown. You can
find commissions as low as $7 per trade—that’s as
much as 60 percent less than the cost a year ago.