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Money Saving Tips:
Entertainment Savings Tips
Visit your local library. Not only do they have books, magazines and newspapers for you to enjoy, but free videotape and DVD rentals as well. Why pay $20 or more per month for internet access when you can get it for less? Check out Netzero or Juno for no-cost and low-cost internet access plans. Enjoy community theater productions, city festivals, or other local events. Attend a college play or concert. These are usually inexpensive. If you like going to the movies, be sure to go to a matinee showing instead of the more expensive evening showings. Also, don't go there hungry, or you may be tempted to spend $8 on that Coke and popcorn combo. Rent a movie instead of going to the movies. Visit museums or tourist attractions in your area. Borrow videos or DVD's from a friend or relative. Check your newspaper for discount coupons to area attractions. Consider a vacation close to home. By taking a one-day trip instead of an overnight trip, you won't have to pay for a hotel room. Pack your own snacks and drinks to save on food costs. Consider dropping some cable programming or premium movie channels. Remember to look at the big picture: A savings of $10 a month will total $120 for the year.
Utility Savings Tips
Invest in a programmable thermostat. It can automatically adjust room temperature settings to energy-saving levels when you're sleeping or away from the house, eliminating wasteful energy use. Lower the temperature setting on your hot water heater. Also, install a thermal insulation jacket. Lower the thermostat. You can save 2-3% off your energy bill for each degree. Use ceiling fans. Ceiling fans cost just one cent per hour to operate; air-conditioning costs up to 58 cents per hour. Also, in the winter you can run a ceiling fan in the reverse direction; it will circulate warm air trapped near the ceiling back down to living areas. Change your air-conditioning and heating filters regularly. Dirty filters will cause the units to work harder. Insulate your home adequately. Increase insulation, particularly in the attic. Not only is the attic usually the easiest place to insulate, but it's where you will see the greatest benefit in energy savings. Have your ducts checked to make sure there are no leaks. Ducts that leak can cost you hundreds of dollars more each year on your heating and cooling bills.
Use your vents. You can control where the heat and air goes. Try closing a few doors to rooms you don't use, along with the vents (unless you have a heat pump. Closing vents could harm the heat pump). Caulk, seal and weather-strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans for short periods of time. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. On days you use your a/c, keep the laundry room door closed when your dryer is in use. Dryers draw in air and heat it. Just two loads can substantially diminish the effects of air-conditioning in the average-size home. Unplug idle electronics and appliances. TVs, VCRs, cable boxes, CD players and microwaves continue to zap small amounts of energy even when turned off. You could save up to 9% on your electricity bill. Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Washing in cold water will get most clothes just as clean. Plus, the clothing will fade less and have fewer wrinkles. Always rinse in cold water. Use 40 or 60 watt light bulbs instead of 75 or 100 watt bulbs. Better yet, switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. They cost more, but use about a quarter of the energy as traditional bulbs -- and they last ten times as long.
Ten Ways to Build Your Savings Account
1. Pay yourself first. Put a certain amount of each paycheck into savings before you spend a dime. You'll soon adjust your cost of living to what is available to spend.

2. Save your coins instead of using them to purchase small items like gum, newspaper, sodas, etc. You'll be surprised how quickly it will add up.

3. After you've paid the last installment on a car loan or other monthly bill, add to your savings account the same amount you've been paying.

4. If you get an income tax refund, deposit it in your savings account. Many people frivolously spend their refund as though they won a small lottery and can't even remember where the money went.

5. If you receive a bonus at work, put it in savings.

6. Put any overtime pay into savings.

7. When you get your next raise, save it. Usually, people spend their raise and more, getting further into debt. Decide now to set aside your raise money into your savings each payday.

8. Have a garage sale. You might make $100 or more.

9. Have a short-term (e.g., one month) period during which you save as much as possible. Buy nothing unless you really need it. Cut out movies, dining out, fast food, entertainment or other expenses and deposit what you save.

10. Work odd jobs, a temporary second job or a seasonal job and save the money you earn from it.

Not only will saving make you wealthier, you will have a greater peace of mind because you will be more financially secure.
15 Ways to Save on Gasoline
1. Avoid fast starts (i.e., "flooring it"). Accelerate smoothly. Your car uses more fuel accelerating than it does cruising. For this reason, avoid routes clogged with "stop-and-go" traffic.

2. Avoid idling for more than a minute. It takes less fuel to restart your car than to idle longer than a minute.

3. Watch your speed. Traveling at 65 m.p.h. instead of 55 m.p.h. can use up to 17% more fuel.

4. Keep your tires properly inflated. Under inflated tires will shorten the life of your tires and reduce your mileage by up to 4% for every 5 pounds of under inflation. 5. Use your cruise control whenever you can. 6. Consider buying radial tires. They can cut your fuel bill by 3%. 7. Avoid extra weight in the car. For every 100 pounds of extra weight in the back seat or trunk, you lose about one mile per gallon. 8. Change your oil regularly. Dirty engine oil makes the engine work harder. 9. Keep your car tuned up. Two bad spark plugs can increase your gas consumption by 20%. 10. Combine short trips. 11. Don't purchase higher octane gas than what your car requires. 12. How are your filters? Dirty filters will burn up 10% more fuel. 13. Avoid wind drag. Driving with open windows burns more fuel. Use your air vents instead. 14. Go easy on the air conditioning. It increases fuel consumption by up to 15%. 15. Try carpooling. It's probably not your first choice, but consider this: you might save $50-$150 a month.
Identity Theft
An identity thief steals personal information such as a Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number and home address to: drain bank accounts, open credit accounts, apply for loans, purchase vehicles, apply for Social Security benefits -- all in someone else's credit identity. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over 9 million Americans were victimized last year. Federal law limits your credit card liability to $50 per card, but the damage done to your credit can be severe. That bad credit can keep you from getting a home or car loan, or other credit. It may even prevent you from getting a job or insurance coverage. Are you protecting yourself? Here are a few tips: 1. Don't carry your Social Security card on you. 2. Don't carry any extra credit cards. 3. Pick up new checks at the bank instead of having them delivered to your mailbox. 4. Install a locked mail at your home, or rent a post office box. 5. Mail bills at the post office or post office drop box instead of your mailbox. 6. NEVER give your credit card number or other personal information over the phone unless you placed the call and know who you are dealing with. 7. Don't have your Social Security number be your Driver's License number. Ask for a different number. 8. Close any unused credit card accounts. 9. Don't have your Social Security number printed on your checks. 10. SHRED any financially sensitive papers, such as pay stubs, checks and statements before you throw them away (even pre-approved credit card offers). 11. Get a copy of your credit report at least once every year to check for any fraudulent activity.
CCOA's Holiday Planner
The holidays are just around the corner and it won't be long before families are exchanging presents. Holidays and gifts can take a big bite out of your budget, so planning ahead will keep your budget under control. It is important not to get caught up in the last minute emotion of the season and spend more than you planned. Holiday overspending ruins many festive occasions and can result in long repayment schedules. Don't have a holiday credit hangover! Remember, credit obligations (excluding home mortgages and utilities) should not exceed 15-20% of your take-home pay each month.
Avoid a Holiday Credit Hangover!
Shop early for gifts. This allows you to take advantage of sales, specials and bargains. Don't be tempted to give your gifts early lest you buy more. Utilize layaway plans if possible. Consider getting a Christmas Club account for next year. Give a family gift instead of individual gifts. If you have a large family, consider drawing names to exchange gifts. Buy presents after Christmas at huge discounts for family or friends you won't see until after Christmas anyway.
Eight Reasons Not to Use Your Credit Cards This Christmas
1. The average person spends over 20% more when shopping with credit cards instead of cash. 2. Using credit cards makes people less likely to comparison shop. 3. If you use credit cards to buy Christmas gifts, there is a good possibility you will still be paying for the gifts next Christmas. 4. Knowing that you have charged too much can lessen the joy of the season. 5. Using credit cards makes it easy to deceive yourself about how much your really spent. 6. Credit card payments will limit your ability to buy things in the future. 7. Interest and other fees will increase the cost of gifts. 8. Increasing your debt load can make it more difficult to qualify for a car or home loan.