Posts Tagged ‘save money’

Make Mother’s Day Magnificent (and Budget-Friendly)

U.S. Mother’s Day is in May, on the second Sunday of the month.

You can make mom feel appreciatedand give her a marvelous day without breaking the bank or draining your wallet with these Mother’s Day ideas that any and every mother would love:

Make Mother’s Day Special – Treat mom to a special Mother’s Day without breaking the bank. The Shopping Queen, Fatima Mehdikarimi gives ideas on flowers, dining, luxury and a top tech idea to make Mother’s Day special.

Outside the Box Mother’s Day Gifts – Mother’s Day with a twist. Not-so-typical gift ideas that can also be budget-friendly. Six Minute Style’s Susan Doherty presents five fabulous outside-the-gift-box ideas for mom. She’s gonna love this.

DIY Mother’s Day Spinners – An easy, bright and cheerful DIY project for young children to make. Perfect for Mother’s Day and will continue to delight mom all Summer long from Crayola Creative Workshop.

Duck Tape Roses for Mom – Make a Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers out of duct tape! Easy, fun and pretty DIY from Duck Brand duct tape for mom! Simple tutorial shows how. Make it useful by using a pen for the stem!

DIY Paper Photo Wallet – Every mom loves sharing pictures of her family. This easy DIY papercrafted tri-fold wallet will display all her favorite pics in style. Crafter and author of Christmas Papercrafts, Corinne Bradd, shows how to create a brag book using paper and a series of simple creases.

More on making Mother’s Day wonderful in these related SLTV posts:

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Make Every Day Arbor Day, Tips to Save Trees and Money

U.S. National Arbor Day:  The Last Friday in April 

The beauty of trees alone is enough reason for us to want to surround ourselves with as many trees as possible, but it’s not the only reason.

Here are a few more reasons why surrounding yourself with trees is a good idea. From The ColoradoTrees.org article, Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas:

  • Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and give out oxygen. A healthy tree stores about 13 pounds of carbon annually. An acre of trees absorbs enough CO2 over one year to equal the amount produced by driving a car 26,000 miles.
  • Trees also filter other gaseous pollutants from the air. There is up to a 60% reduction in street level particulates when trees are present.
  • Trees prevent soil erosion and water run off.
  • They prevent harmful land pollutants contained in the soil from getting into our waterways.
  • They act as buffers to noise pollution.
  • They cool the earth with their shade. Studies have shown that parts of cities without cooling shade from trees can have temperatures as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas.
  • They function as wind breaks for farms and our homes.
  • Trees enhance traffic safety; drivers tend to drive slower on tree-lined streets.
  • Trees increase property values.
  • They help reduce home energy use, which saves you money.

And, if all this isn’t enough to consider making tree preservation and planting a priority in our everyday lives, consider this: Trees reduce crime. In the April 1, 2011 edition of Bottomline Personal Newsletter we read:

  • Neighborhoods with large trees tend to have less crime than areas with smaller trees says Geoffrey H. Donovan, PhD, research forester, Portland Forestry Sciences Labratory, Oregon, and coauthor of a study of 431 crimes, published in Environment and Behavior.

You can easily help improve your town, neighborhood and home while also preventing the over harvesting of trees and destruction of forests. Here are some simple tips that you can use in your everyday life that will make a considerable difference. And… we happen to know that these tips will save you money, too!

 

Consider joining the The Arbor Day Foundation. The Arbor Day Foundation’s purpose is to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, the non-profit Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. Their Web site features many helpful gardening and planting resources; one of our favorites pages is the one giving Free Landscape Design Plans. They also give more wonderful free material when you sign up for membership. Sign up starts at just $10. For that, you will receive discounts on purchases of trees and shrubs of up to 56%, a bi-monthly color newsletter, The Tree Book treasury on planting and caring for trees, AND IN ADDITION: Your choice of either – receiving TEN FREE TREES, or making a donation of ten trees in your name to a national forest in need.

Participate in or start a community tree planting program. Check with your local town or city government to find out if there is a tree planting program in your city and join in. Some towns will plant a tree for free at your curbside if you volunteer to water it. If there isn’t a program in your city, consider starting one. Find info. in this AmaricaForests.org aritcle: Create a Community Tree Planting Project.

About books: Go for used books or textbooks, check out books from your local library, or going digital with an e-book reader or program for your computer.

Go digital for subscriptions. Take online subscriptions for your news or magazines. Switch to online bill pay and banking.

Send a FAX directly from your computer.

Check for post-consumer recycled household paper goods like bath tissue, paper towels and printer paper.

Cut back on paper towels.Use rags instead of paper towels. You can use worn out sheets, t-shirts, sweatshirts and pants, pajamas, receiving and baby blankets, frayed bath towels can be cut down to make smaller towels.

Wrapping paper: Consider alternatives that can be reused: Fabric. Cloth drawstring bags. Dishtowels. Re-use existing wrapping paper, paper bags or newspaper. Look for post-consumer recycled wrapping paper.

Consider your wood furniture: You can save trees by refinishing furniture. When shopping for new furniture look for those made with recycled or reclaimed wood.  There are excellent tips in this article form PlanetGreen.com, Learn How to Find Eco-Friendly Wood Furniture.

Related videos:

  • Trees Cut Home Energy Costs – Home improvement expert Danny Lipford shows how trees cut 25% on your energy bill as well as beautify your home.
  • Reduce Home Heat & AC Bills – Tips to reduce your home heating and air conditioning bills, from planting trees to using eco friendly light bulbs and more from EnStar’s Bill Stack and Growing Wisdom’s Dave Epstein.
  • Eco Chic Gift Wrap & Packaging Ideas – Go creative & go eco when wrapping presents & getting packages ready for shipping. Creative, inexpensive, & practical green from eco expert, Rachel Avalon.

Related articles:

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8 Holiday Party Ideas, Easy on Your Budget

Entertaining on a budget isn’t always easy, and the holiday season puts even more added demands and challenges on your  budget. This is, after all, a time to bring in some brightness and share some fun with friends and family.  Is it really possible to enjoy hosting a holiday party without breaking the bank or over-stretching your wallet? Absolutely! We’ve posted several entries on holiday entertaining on a budget before, and this year is no exception. Here are 8 videos loaded with pointers to host a party on a budget, from decorations to serving food, to dealing with holiday hosting stress, all to make it easier for for you and yours to enjoy a little more holiday happiness!

Retro Tinsel DIY Tree, Under $30 – You could make your own retro inspired Tinsel Tree for under $30. Decorate for a party, and use year after year. Here are how-to directions plus some other great tree alternative ideas from Threadbanger.com.

Saving Cash on Holiday Parties – Deal pro and consultant at savings.com and creator of LivingWellSpendingLess.com, Ruth Soukup, gives tips on how to have a great time hosting a budget-friendly holiday party.

Holiday Appetizers Budget Friendly – Three delicious, fast and affordable holiday appetizers, complete with wine pairing suggestions from Chef Hosea Rosenberg to make your party gourmet and your guests feeling great.

Simple Savings for Holiday Meals – WalletPop.com editor Andrea Chalupa gives simple tips to save money when planning holiday meals. Tip #1: Start now! P.S. re: the tip on refreshing up rolls, we suggest the paper towel should be damp.

Entertaining on a Budget – Planning ahead, grocery shopping tips, decor ideas, and how to deal if you really can’t afford to host this year.. pointers to enjoy the holidays on a budget from the Shopping Queen, Fatima Mehdikarimi.

How to Throw a Care Package Party –  Throw a holiday party that gives back this season by hosting a care package party. Here, Celebrations.com expert Mark Addison shows you how to create a festive, beautiful and charitable fete.

Cool Ideas for Hot Holiday Entertaining – Everything you need to create a smashing holiday event with tips from greeting guests, to table settings, to decorations, to party favors from designer Robert Verdi.

Budget Savvy Entertaining – Make these holidays stress free, budget-friendly and enjoy entertaining with these creative ideas from event planner Sebastien Centner.

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Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2012 on SpendLessTV

 

The Top Ten Videos of 2012 on SpendLessTV.com

As we welcome the start of a new year, we reflect on the one just completed and realize how incredibly grateful we are to be able to feature helpful material from insightful money-savers, creative crafters, entrepreneurs and personal finance advisors from all over the world who are committed to helping you achieve your personal finance, money management and creative success.

With appreciation and thanks we acknowledge all of the creators of the amazing video content featured on the SpendLessTV.com site, but in particular, as the new year begins, we recognize the video contributors who made SpendLessTV.com’s  Top Ten List of Most Viewed Videos for 2012: Ramit SethiGarrett B. Gunderson,  Daniel Delaney, Julia Scott,  Rick Bayless, Brad Stroh, Suzanne RielleMarie Forleo, the Saturday Night Live team of  Steve Martin, Amy Poehler and Chris Parnell, and independent crafter Corinne Bradd.

Here is the SpendLessTV.com List of  The Top Ten Videos of 2012:

10. Busting Money Myths: Willpower – Ranking in the Top Ten List for the second year this video busts the money myth that growing wealth is all about needing more willpower. This is one of three videos in an Original series created for SpendLessTV from Ramit Sethi, personal finance blogger and author of  I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  Ramit is known for his straight forward, unconventional approach to helping people succeed with personal finance, money saving and business growth and entrepreneurship.

9. Your Credit Score: Stay on Top – This is Garrett B. Gunderson’s third appearance in the annual SpendLessTV.com Top Ten List, but the first for this particular video. Garrett created this video as an Original for SpendLessTV. He discloses a wealth of information about how your credit score influences everything from your insurance rates to your mortgage rates, car loans and more – and what you can do about it. Don’t miss the invaluable insight from the author of the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows.

8. Street Food Smart – This Original video created for SpendLessTV.com from Vendor.tv creator, restaurateur and food culinary cart curbbside cuisine expert, Daniel Delaney  makes it’s second appearance in the yearly SpentLessTV Top Ten List. Daniel sheds light on the age-old question: to taste or not to taste? Catch Daniel’s wisdom on how to get the most quality and enjoyment for your vendor buck.

7. Coupon Stacking Explained – We all know how using coupons can save money, but in this clip Julia Scott, CEO of BargainBabe.com, shows exactly how easy it is to save big every time and  how one simple couponing tip can add up to considerable savings at the cash register.

6. Guacamole – Frontera Grill founder and TV personality, Chef Rick Bayless, gives his famous recipe for a slightly unconventional guacamole. We’re not surprised this rates in the top-viewed; it’s a free recipe for an inexpensive, yet rich and indulgent dish which is, of course, THE perfect food for just about any occasion and an easy side dish that enhances any meal!

5. 5 Simple Ways to Save Money – Saving money is always a good idea, but often we end up over-complicating the  how, when, where, and what regarding what really works. In this video the CEO of bills.com, Brad Stroh, takes the guess work out of the equation by providing 5 basic never-fail ways to grow your savings every day.

4. How to Spend Less on Kids Clothing -“Buy Right and Sell Right” is the secret many parents are using to dress kids in high style, quality clothing for less-than or equal-to superstore offerings. Suzanne Rielle, co-founder of the resale site, LoobaLee.com, explains how it works and why and how purchasing quality clothing can actually be a real money-saver.

3Maintain a Mindset of Abundance – Best-selling author, speaker and one of the most diversely successful entrepreneurs and business development coaches today, Marie Forleo, shares 3 easy things you can do to feel abundant, attract success, avoid money stress and feel great about your potential in this Original video created especially for SpendLessTV.com which deservedly has ranked in the yearly Top Ten for the past three years.

2. Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford! – Making the Top Ten List for the third year running, is this classic comedy sketch from Saturday Night Live which features Steve Martin and Amy Poehler, who play a couple needing personal finance budgeting help, which they find with Chris Parnell’s unique approach to debt & money-management. Timeless advice presented in a way that always brings a smile.

1.  DIY Paper Photo Wallet – Everything you need to know to create a paper crafted tri-fold wallet to display your favorite pictures, recipes, notes, clippings – you name it – in style. Crafter Corinne Bradd shows how to create a brag book using only paper & a few simple creases. This project requires no glue, no scissors, and no tape. It makes a fantastic craft project for the kids, is a great greeting card alternative and makes a super thank-you or hostess gift.  No wonder it topped the SpendLessTV.com List as the Number One Top-Viewed Video of 2012!

More you’ll like:

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11 Tips for Entrepreneurs & Independent Businesses

We’ve gathered up some of the best tips for business owners and entrepreneurs, of all varieties.  Just starting out? Looking to increase your product reach or your circulation? Looking for marketing pointers? Could you use a little practical inspiration?  We’ve got the inside info. in these audios, videos and articles from the experts!

An Interview with Stacey Ross – Stacy is an entrepreneur and founder of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. In this is MP3 downloadable she is interviewed by Debra Simpson of North San Diego Business at Large. Stacey shares the evolution of San Diego Bargain Mama and it’s offline social network, sdIRL (San Diego In Real Life Connections).Debra has a background in multimedia and Web publishing and digital media development and she is an entrepreneur who developes and implements internet marketing strategies for the small business community.

Money Map for Entrepreneurial Success – Alexis Neely, author, entrepreneur, founder of the New Law Business Model.

6 Counterintuitive Business Tips – Garrett B. Gunderson, personal finance advisor, founder of FreedomFast Track wealth building program, and author of Killing Sacred Cows.

Entrepreneur Tips – Jen Groover, entrepreneur, inventor, media lifestyle contributor and author.

60 Seconds to Business Success in Economic Slowdown – Dr. Patrick Dixon, author of, Futurewise.

Build Your Business, Brand & Passion – Gary Vaynerchuk (contains strong language), entrepreneur, founder of WineLibraryTV.com, co-founder VaynerMedia, speaker, author of Crush it! and The Thank You Economy.

How to Stand Out From The Crowd – Marie Forleo, multi-passionate entrepreneur, business and marketing advisor, founder of Rich, Happy & Hot B-school giving tips to grow your online business.

Increasing Your Income 1,000% – Brian Tracy legendary leader and advisor in personal development, sales, business, time management and leadership.

The Small Business Bible – Steven Strauss, author of  The Small Business Bible, and senior USA Today Small Business Columnist.

Turn Your Ideas Into Income – Ramit Sethi, co-founder of PBwiki, author of the best-seller, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, creator of the blog of the same name, and personal finance and marketing advisor.

Running Your Business on a Shoestring – article with practical pointers from our affiliate partner, CareOne Debt Relief.

Related posts:

 

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Reduce Your Medical & Hospital Bills – Don’t Get Taken!

My first experience with a medical billing error was quite frightening. My son had some health issues which were not too serious, but required him to remain in the hospital for about a week after his birth. Treating his condition meant the possibility of his needing a blood transfusion. As it turned out, he did not require a transfusion, but the bill I received from the hospital about a month after he came home showed a transfusion, which we were being charged for. This, of course, was quite alarming distressing to see. It was absolutely imperative for my son’s health, and my peace of mind, that I find out if the bill was indeed correct or not. After some pressing and investigating, it was eventually confirmed that he had not received a transfusion. But this had not simply been an error in billing; I had been sent a completely wrong bill – someone else’s bill. I wonder whose bill the other party received?

As you will see in the stories below, these types of medical billing errors are not an uncommon occurrence.  If time permits, gathering as much information as possible on the costs before treatment or procedures is always preferred, and often it is possible to pre-negotiate for fixed costs, but perhaps even more critically important is double-checking your bills afterwards, not only for your budget, but for the proper understanding of your health status.

We may not be able to scrutinize for every bandage or cotton ball we are billed for, but not noticing sizeable mistakes can add up to a heavy tab. Here are some tips with experts giving important information and suggestions to help guide you in navigating, managing, questioning, and hopefully reducing your medical bills.

Negotiating Medical Bills and Billing Errors:

  • Negotiating Medical BillsYou’re not alone if you find medical and hospital bills a confusing mess. CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews reports on how it’s an absolute must for everyone to do a little investigating and how it may also save you some money.
  • Reduce Your Medical Costs – Derek Fitteron, CEO of Medical Cost Advocates, discusses the high cost of medical bills and what you need to to know to manage your insurance prices, medical service costs, the importance of reviewing your bill and how to negotiate your medical bills
  • How to Spot Medical Billing Errors – Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor for ShopSmart Magazine, shares how to spot errors on your medical bills.They are more frequent than you might imagine. It’s well worth double checking and could save you a lot of money.

Ask and Shop Around.  There’s a reason that “Ask”  is our all-time top money-saving tip, and that is because it works. As every one of the above videos mention, asking is not only necessary to be certain you have been charged accurately, but it is an invaluable tool for potentially reducing the initial cost of services too. Ask your doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, and any and all service providers if they can beat prices, match prices, or if there is any way they could help you save or receive a discount. They may have free samples to provide, they may have suggestions on creative billing, timing, or they may be able to offer a discount if you pre-pay in cash..there are many more possibilities, but they will not offer this upfront, you must ask.

  • You Can Lower Your Medical Bills – Yes, you can negotiate medical fees.  It never hurts to ask says Angie Hicks, founder of angieslist.com in this interview by Dr. Manny Alvarez on Fox.

Shop Ahead. If you have the time, shopping ahead on prices for medical procedures can be a huge money-saver. There may be a wide variation in the cost of medical procedures from provider to provider, even if their practices are in the same building.  The Healthcare Blue Book is a free consumer guide to help you determine fair prices in your area for healthcare services like surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical tests and much more.

Use a Flexible Spending Account.  If you know in advance approximately how much you typically spend during the year on everyday healthcare needs, this may save you some money. This is an account set up by your employer where you designate how much money from your salary you want to automatically be deposited into this account. The money is placed pre-tax into the account, and is only to be used as reimbursement to yourself for health-related expenses you have incurred. You must submit requests for reimbursement. Ask your employer for a list of which items qualify for reimbursement and which do not. Some items which are covered typically are prescriptions, some drugstore items, eye care such as exams, glasses or contact lenses, dental expenses, nursing care, day care, and some co-pays and deductibles. You MUST use up ALL of the money by the end of the year — any money that is left in the account at the end of the year is forfeited.

Claiming medical deductions on your tax return for yourself and any of your dependents. You may be able to deduct standard medical deductions such as hospital expenses, doctor visits, and health insurance premiums that are not paid pre-tax, but there are many other not so common deductions such as: artificial limbs or teeth, chiropractor fees, hearing aids, Alcoholics Anonymous club meetings, the purchase and care of a guide dog, transportation services to appointments, home modifications for medical reason, sterilization, television or phone equipment for hearing impaired, laboratory fees, and eyeglasses. Because there are very specific guidelines as to exactly which expenses qualify and how much expense you need to incur before you are able to deduct them, we suggest checking with a professional tax preparer to see if you qualify.

  • Healthcare Costs Too High? – Pointers to avoid being taken by unnecessary hospital and healthcare costs from the author of “Fight For Your Money”, David Bach.

Don’t miss these related posts:

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Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

Urrg! The rising cost of health care and health insurance is distressing and aggravating, to put it mildly. In November, I received notice that my health insurance premiums are going up. As of January 1  they are increasing a whopping 24% – that’s an increase of $198.44 per month!!  Yes, per month, bringing my yearly premium total to $12,279.72. I guess this was an early “Happy New Year” greeting.

I am not currently employed, do not seem to qualify to join a “group” for group rates, and I do not yet qualify for Medicare (and I’m not sure if I actually will qualify for it when I do reach the qualifying age), which means I either go without insurance, or I carry private independent insurance. So once again, I need to do some thorough investigating to compare the dozens of policies and options.

I know there are thousands of others out there facing similar situations. Here are some options that might be helpful when looking for resources to save on, or secure, general medical health insurance:

Resources for finding “Group” Medical Insurance coverage:

If you are not employed by an organization or business that provides “group” insurance, you still may be able to become a member of a group, organization or union and receive insurance coverage at better rates than if you are being covered as an individual, with the added potential benefit of more leniency on issues like pre-existing conditions. Consider anything and everything, from organizations like AARP to whatever your hobby might be, as potential to finding a “group” to join. Do online searches to see if any may be offering health insurance. Try using search terms like:

  • “Boat Owners of America” medical insurance group benefits (insert your own term, hobby, fraternity, profession, etc.. between the “….”).
  • Group medical insurance coverage
  • Where to find group health insurance coverage “insert your state”

Here are just a few groups we found who do offer health insurance coverage to anyone who qualifies for membership in their group:

Additional ideas for example:

  • Alumni Associations
  • Local Chambers of Commerce
  • The Elks Club
  • A sport enthusiasts club or league
  • Previous military service
  • Trade association
  • Craft guild
  • Religious organizations
  • Educational organizations
  • Ethnic organizations

Insurance “Alternatives”

Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan: This is not insurance but works in a similar way. A group of people pool their money together and pay each other’s health expenses. They sort of become their own insurance company. The member contributions are pooled together and usually invested in order to accrue interest on the pooled funds. These work best when there are a lot of people contributing and everyone only uses the money for major medical expenses. Many religious groups have used this model, like mychristiancare.org’s Medi-Share. If you are considering this as an option, choose a group that has been around for a long time with a good track record.

Clubs: Here’s one example of an insurance club: The No Insurance Club which offers a no-frills option to health insurance for people who want basic, preventative health care. It launched in 2009 and is now available in 12 states. Annual fees: $480 for an individual membership, and $680 for family membership, no matter what the size of the family. For that yearly fee, individual members receive 12 doctor visits, families receive 16 visits, services such as flu shots, discount generic prescriptions, physical exams, blood tests, and other preventive testing. There are no co-pays for doctor visits,  no physical is required before enrolling, and there are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

It is important to note however, that the No Insurance Club does not cover emergency room visits, catastrophic illnesses, hospitalizations, visits to specialists, surgery, brand name prescriptions, and rehabilitation, among other services. But for some people who cannot afford the high premiums of most health insurance plans on the market, but who believe they will utilize the services offered by the Club, this may be an option – if even temporarily. This may also be a good option for those who only have major or catastrophic medical insurance policy coverage to be able to receive general care at reasonable rates.

Two other similar, though not identical, medical discount clubs are AmeriPlan.com and Careington.com.

Amend your current insurance policy: Carrying a higher deductible or limiting your coverage to major, catastrophic, or emergency-only coverage are ways to keep your insurance premium rates lower.  The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly premium will be, but you will also pay more out of pocket when you do go to the doctor or hospital. If you elect to do this, you should consider creating a health savings account for smaller health issues.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Don’t automatically think that since you have a job you won’t qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid will pay health care expenses for low-income families, individuals, and children. Eligibility requirements differ from state to state. It costs you nothing to see if you or your children qualify for Medicaid so check that first before moving on to other options.

Medicare: Medicare is provided by the U.S. government and administered by the Social Security Administration. If you are 65 years old or older, or under 65 years old and disabled,  you might qualify for Medicare. You may also qualify if you are getting Social Security disability benefits.

Look Ahead: In 2014, Direct Primary Care practices will be allowed to compete within state-based insurance exchanges. By eliminating insurance companies from the health care equation, these practices promise to lower the cost of medical care by up to 40 percent. You pay every month whether you go or not, go as often and whenever you want. They accept no insurance, there are no deductibles, there is no paperwork and no bill. The cost? $50 – $150 per month. This would also be a good option to combine with a catastrophic or major medical only insurance policy.

Additional information from experts on more ways to save on health insurance in these videos: 

More health savings ideas:

  • Ways to Cut Everyday Health Care Costs –  An SLTV blog post giving ways to reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality on everything from dental floss to prescription eye care.
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Ways to Cut Everyday Health Care Costs

I know I am not alone in feeling a little panic when facing the skyrocketing costs of health care in the U.S. on everything from an aspirin to surgery to insurance premiums. It seems everyone is looking for ways to combat the rising cost of medical care.

Here are a few pointers and resources with tips that may help reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality:

Always ask. Ask your doctor, hospital, lab, pharmacy, etc. if there is anything they might suggest that would lower the cost of treatment. You’d be surprised at what they might be able to do for you.

  • Ask if discounts are offered to members of groups like AAA, AARP, veterans, government employees, professional or trade unions, or any any other organization or profession you can think of which may qualify you for an affiliated discount, don’t be afraid to ask!
    • Prescription Drug Discount with AAA – This short video explains the AAA prescription drug discount program. But additionally, AAA members also may receive 15 % discount on nutritional products at GNC stores, reduced membership fees at Gold’s Gym and 30% off on regularly priced items at Reebok Outlet Stores.
  • Ask your physician if generic medicines would work for you.
  • Many pharmacies have a list of flat rate $4 or $5 generic prescription medicines available. Ask at the pharmacy for a list of those medications and bring that list to your doctors. Ask your doctors if they might be able to prescribe medications for you from those on the list.
  • Ask your pharmacist if there might be other prescription options that would cost less, and if so, they can call your doctors for approval.

Your county may be providing free prescription Rx discounts cards.

Shop around. Pharmacies vary on the prices they charge for prescription medications just as they do for everything else on their shelves, so shop around to find the lowest prices. Don’t overlook “big box” stores and membership discount stores like Costco and Sam’s Club for rock-bottom prices, on prescriptions and eye care. The price of membership may end up being worth the savings offered.

Keep a look out for free samples and ASK for free samples, from your physician and pharmacy, not only for prescriptions but on a variety of drug store items, too. In addition to asking, there are many websites like our partner,  ShopAtHome.com, that offer special promotions, discounts, giveaways, free shipping, and free samples – for in-store and online shopping.

Use coupons and loyalty programs, and combine the discounts you receive from those with store promotions or sales whenever possible.

  • Coupon Stacking Explained – How coupon stacking works, how easy it is, and a simple tip that adds up to big savings at the cash register from Julia Scott, CEO, BargainBabe.com

Amazon has a “subscribe and save” service that can help cut the cost of anything you buy on a regular interval and offers free shipping with sign up, which can often bring down the cost of regularly used items, like razor blades, toothpaste and tooth brushes, and shampoo at prices well below many big-box discount stores.

Opt for longer lasting items. When you shop for sundries, opt for the items that will last longer, like toothpaste from a tube instead of a pump, or bar soap instead of liquid.

Use less and use it all up. You may be using far more than you need to. Advertisements show us toothbrushes loaded with toothpaste, and luscious streaming waterfalls of shampoo, conditioners, and lotions, but in reality, most often all that is required is a tiny dab. Cut open the tubes when you think they are empty, you’ll be surprised at how much is actually left.

Consider a little do-it-yourself. Several renowned beauty experts have all relied on natural items that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen to achieve the same, if not better, beautiful results as expensive cosmetic treatments, lotions, scrubs, moisturizers, hair conditioners, teeth brighteners, and bath spas. And there are several at-home products that may be effective in treating minor itches and sunburns, too.

Eyeglasses: Register for email notifications from websites like Coastal.com, to receive notice of their deeply discounted sale promotions, as well as their free eyeglass events. An example of a recent sale: 11 eyeglass styles for $11 each. You can even “try on” eyeglass frames online!  I have personally ordered contact lenses from them and was very pleased with their service.

AAA members may receive 30% discounts on eyeglasses, and 10% discounts on contact lenses at Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical.

Consider Bartering –  Bartering is once again emerging as a popular viable option for receiving goods and services, and many medical practices are participating. There are several online bartering sites where you “bank” your skill and/or time for points, and then “swap” your points for medical services.

  • Time Swap – The New BarterConsumer advocate Stacy Johnson from MoneyTalksNews.com explains one online bartering site in this video.
  • Bartering for Health Care – The story of one medical center in Maine that is participating in a barter bank to help make health care more accessible.

Here, from one of our favorite resources, Bottom Line Personal newsletter, from their interview with Clark Howard, host of The Clark Howard Show on CNN’s HLN network.(Volume 32, Number 21, November, 1, 2011), are tips for those not covered by health insurance to receive lower prices on services, prescription medications and eyeglasses:

  • Get health-care providers and pharmacies to bid for your business online. If you requrie a medical, dental or vision procedure that is not covered by your insurance, enter it into the free website PriceDoc.com (registration required). Health-care professionals offer lower-than-normal prices through this site to bring in new clients.  This site tends to be most useful for finding low prices for dental and cosmetic procedures. It’s sometimes possible to obtain discounts of 25% to 30% or more.
  • For prescription medications, check out the free website BidRx.com (registration required). Enter your prescription medications into their site, and pharmacies will offer your their lowest prices. Only reputable U.S. pharmacies are allowed to participate.  If you cannot wait for a medication to arrive by mail, the site can restrict the search to local pharmacies.  Savings of as much as 50% are possible.
  • An online site for eyeglasses at very low prices is Zenni Optical. They offer prescription eyeglasses online for less than $20 — lenses, frames and shipping included. Eyeglasses with special features such as lenses can cost $50 or more. The lenses are ground in China and theframes are not brand names, but the product is good quality. You can upload a picture of yourself to the site and “try on” frames. One downside is there is no post-purchase care or adjustments. You’ll have to bring them to a local optician to adjust fitting issues.  To help ensure a proper fit, make sure your eye doctor checks and records on your prescription your pupillary distance (PD) — the distance between the centers of your pupils.

More from experts on health care savings:

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12 Gifts Under $30

Giving a gift that lets someone you care about know you are thinking of them does not have to cost a fortune or break your budget. Here are 12 unique gift ideas all for less than $30, that would suit anyone, anytime, from kids to great-grandparents – while suiting your bank balance as well.

Give the gift of warmth and comfort with a cozy throw. These welcomed cozy down-alternative throw is available in an array of colors and patterns to suit any personality and every decor. From JC Penney. Machine washable. $19.99 – $25.

Carafe and Cup set: This elegant glass and pitcher duo is made entirely out of recycled glass bottles, giving it a unique pale green color and a sculptural aesthetic. The textured bands of glass allow it to be grasped firmly, preventing accidental slips and spills. Beautiful on nightstands, dressers, and desks, and tables, even when it’s not bearing water. Handmade by fair trade artisans in Bolivia. $29.99

Chill the party with this festive red  party cooler that’s ultra-hot! This Metal Party Tub offers a great way to ice drinks and snacks in the back yard, park, or stadium parking lot. Made from a durable and rust-resistant alloy with a bright finish, this reinforced Metal Party Tub comes with steel carrying handles and is built to last. Available is several colors at Party City, $19.99.

This versatile serving platter set is made of gleaming white durable porcelain with a clean sleek design. Dishwasher, microwave, and conventional oven-safe. Made in China. 5-piece set includes: four small platters; one large platter. From CB2. The set: $22.75.
The Fozzils Solo Flat Pack Dinerware Set is great for your outdoorsy friend or adventure traveler.  Made of durable polypropylene and is leak-proof and easy to clean. Just throw the flat sheets in your backpack and later fold into cup, bowl, and plate and spoon in seconds. The Fozzils Pack Set comes in a reusable packing sleeve that can also be used as a prep tray or cutting board. $15.95 a set.
Bring memories home with this darling Sandy Feet Casting Kit. You can use it for either footprints or handprints. Simply make a foot or hand print in dense, moist sand. Collect beach water in the cup provided; mix in the special powder to it, then pour the mixture into the print impression. You can even personalize your print with the included stylus, and use the cord to make your footprint ready-to-hang. Allow 20 minutes for it to harden, then gently scoop the print out. Use the special keepsake pail to tote your creation home! The kit can make two children’s feet (up to size 2) or one adult foot. Parental supervision required. Contents made in the USA; tin made in China. Sand not included. From UncommonGoods. $15.

Charge your cell phones in style with the Garden Charging Station. Keep your counters looking neat and tidy and add a little decor with this “grass” filled decorative container.Easily hide all your charging cords by placing them under the grass and run 1 extension cord to the Charging Station. Available in black or white. 10.5″ L x 6″ W x 3.5″ H. Extension cord not included. At Convenient Gadgets & Gifts. $27.95

Guitar Pick Punch – Create your own recycled guitar picks quickly and easily with the Pick Punch. Turn expired credit cards, old gift cards, hotel key cards, and other thin plastic into perfectly-shaped guitar picks. The heavy-duty Pick Punch features a steel head that can cut through materials up to 1mm thick. Good idea for DIY earrings or necklace pendants too! From UncommonGoods. $25.

HABA/TC Timber Master Builder Series. This large block set allows children to use and learn the same engineering principles the Romans followed. In true Romanesque style, this 54 pc set of solid wooden blocks is sure to entertain young and old architects alike. Note: This set does not come with building instructions. From Maukilo.com.$29.99

The Hess Toy Truck – We just can’t help it – we love this gift! (yes, it was on last year’s list, too) Since 1964 Hess has released a new model toy truck in November each year; and kids (no matter what age) never tire of collecting them and playing with them. They often are actually two vehicles and feature high quality realistic fun with extras like flashing lights, sirens, lifts or ramps. Available at participating Hess Gas Stations, starting November 11, 2011, and they sell out fast! Batteries included, $26.99.

Tabletopics. Played with family, friends or during a candlelit dinner for two, each card in a Tabletopics sets asks a different thought-provoking, conversation-starting question. Choose from four different sets – Couple’s Edition, Family Edition, Original Edition, and Dinner Party Edition. All four sets are guaranteed to keep the fun and conversation flowing. (we can personally attest to that!) The set of 135 cards are housed in acrylic 4 x 4″ square cube. Appropriate for ages 12 and up. From RedEnvelope. $29.95

This leather and stainless steel  heart token manages to be both rugged and refined. The versatile leather necklace is expandable up to 35 inches and is available in four colors. The necklace is available in Black (pictured), Brown, Red or Pink. Specify necklace color and up to six letters for custom engraving. Not suitable for children under 12 years of age. From Enchanted Memories $25.99

This cheeky money clip serves its purpose, even if you’re light on cash. The engraving, rich in humor, says it all (and then some):  “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.” – Kin Hubbard. Made of aluminum and made in the USA, from UncommonGoods. $18.

More creative and wallet-friendly gift ideas in our posts:

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Why Bank of America Employees are Bringing Their Lunches To Work

A recent headline on a PBS radio show caught my attention. It said:

Why Bank of America Employees are Bringing Their Lunches to Work.

They then went on to describe how, when employees got word that their employer, Bank of America, may be cutting 40,000 jobs, they immediately went into “austerity mode” and stopped buying lunch out, even hot dogs from the wagon on the sidewalk in front of the building, in order to start holding onto their savings because they may find themselves out of a job in the next few weeks.

Hmmm… am I understanding this correctly? Extravagance and unconscious spending don’t matter if you have an incoming salary? Isn’t saving “always” critical? Isn’t “pay yourself first” the general rule? Isn’t growing one’s emergency savings always a priority? It strikes me as ironic that perhaps the simplest bit of money-saving one can do on a daily basis is one that is ignored when everything “seems” to be okay, but is the first to go when saving “seems” critical. There are many big ways to cut expenses to free up some money to balance your budget or add to your savings like re-negotiating mortgages and insurance policies, but you can still receive notable savings benefits from changing some simple habits, like bringing lunch.

I’m not implying a mindset of deprivation. I’m not a frugality fanatic by any means, and I don’t come even remotely close to being an extreme coupon master, but I do try to be conscious of waste and wasteful spending, like buying lunch out everyday. Taking the easy and accessible alternative of bringing a delicious lunch most of the time is a simple way one can enjoy feeling abundant without unnecessary spending.

We did an earlier post on how much money breaking the bottled water habit would save, and discovered that a family of four could save as much as $2,878.57 per year with the use of a simple home water filter. What about bringing lunch vs buying out? Using Bankrate.com’s Lunch Savings Calculator, we found we could save close to $900 per year, per person, based on lunch purchased out at $6 a day vs BYO bagged at $3.  And what if you choose to go more eco-friendly? What about the added cost of purchasing reusable containers, reusable bags, and running extra dishwasher loads?  Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar blog did the math and found that it only takes one or two lunches to recover the initial cost of the containers, and the cost to wash is just about 3 cents.

Not only does bringing your own lunch save you money (money that could go toward your retirement savings, emergency savings account, or for travel, or holiday fun) but it’s better for your health, too! So why wait?

Related Videos:

Bring Your Own Lunch: DIY vs Pre-made Products – It might be quicker, but does it cost less money? See exactly how much pre-made lunch products are costing you when Grocery School does the math.

Grocery Shopping: Cut Your Tab in Half – Save money, as much as $70 a week, on grocery shopping without sacrificing health or taste, and you can even do it without coupons! Tips from the Good Housekeeping Institute.

 

Healthy Foods on a Budget?You can afford to eat healthier foods – even on a tight budget.  Get tips from nutritionist Natalie that will help you make wise spending and shopping choices and healthier ones, too!

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