Originally published December 31, 2011 at 8:02 PM | Page modified January 5, 2012 at 10:23 AM

101 ways to save money in the new year

To help you make ends meet in the new year, we offer these money-saving tips.

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Some bills are fixed — the monthly rent or mortgage payments for instance. Others fluctuate with the season — think the electric bill in winter and the water bill in summer.

For everything else you spend money on, you don't need your mother to tell you it pays to shop around. Common sense tells you to do some homework before opening your wallet. And, with the help of the Internet, you can easily compare prices and read helpful user comments and reviews.

To help you make ends meet in the new year, we offer these money-saving tips.

Good times

Take advantage of happy-hour deals or early-bird specials at restaurants and bars.

Meet for drinks at someone's house then go out to eat to eliminate big-ticket alcoholic drinks.

Volunteer as event staff at favorite festivals or venues.

Join the governing board for free member perks.

Purchase season passes during early-bird dates.

Travel in periods shortly before or after peak season.

Attend reviews of professional shows or quality college productions.

Check your existing memberships, such as with the auto club and credit-card company, for discounts on things like glasses, for stores and travel.

Ask for discounts at museums and tours. Visit during scheduled free hours.

Investigate what your employer offers: group-buying discounts, free tickets, gym memberships.

Bundle your Internet, cable and phone service; conversely, if you have been bundled for years, may be time to shop around.

Restore a damaged CD with nongel formula toothpaste and a cotton cloth; rub in a straight line from the center of the CD outward to covering scratches. Rinse with water.

What you put in your mouth

Eat in. Eat your leftovers.

Make a meal out of what is already in your refrigerator and pantry.

Buy in bulk: packaging equals costs equals higher prices. Grate a block of cheese instead of buying shredded. Add water to frozen OJ instead of reconstituted juice in plastic jugs or cartons.

Freeze, can and store what you can't use immediately.

Get a group to go in on a warehouse membership and split the fee, savings.

Buy in-season fruits and vegetables.

Buy only as much as you can use before spoilage occurs.

Go meatless.

Select lower-priced cuts of beef that can be tenderized or marinated.

Pack a lunch with reusable containers.

Use coupons — but only for items you were going to buy anyway. Look for coupons or deals in your Sunday newspaper and from individual stores, your favorite manufacturers and online on Facebook or places like and

Buy generic drugs or buy 90-day supply through the mail.

How you get around

Keep car maintained, tires inflated properly.

Lighten load in trunk. Weight decreases gas mileage.

Ease up on the gas pedal. Ease up on the brake pedal.

Find lower gas prices at

Walk or ride your bike to any place within a mile.

Think van pool, Rideshare, bus passes, off-peak driving on toll road and biking. Consider a hybrid or electric car for your next purchase. Lower toll fees with Good to Go pass found at

Buy used.

Increase your car-insurance deductible; decrease value of car coverage.

The shirt on your back

Wait for sales — even at secondhand stores. Shop the overstock section of your favorite store or brand-label website.

Buy only what you need — eliminate the expensive "wants."

Shop your parents' closet for yesteryear fashions that are back in vogue.

Swap clothes with friends, neighbors, community groups.

Return clothes with price tags still attached.

Update wardrobe with less expensive accessories such as belts, scarves and necklaces.

Buy items that do not require dry cleaning or special handling.

Wash in cold water.

Ask for a price match if you have found the same item cheaper at another store.

Where you hang your hat

Move outside high-rent districts to areas with good mass-transit options.

Turn daylight basement or third-floor into rental. Rent out a vacant room, living space.

With record low mortgage rates and housing prices at 2004 levels, there hasn't been a better time to buy a house or condo since, well, 2004. BUT, don't buy more than you can afford or need.

Insulate attics, walls, crawl spaces, water heaters, pipes. Puget Sound Energy customers can sign up for an energy audit at; Seattle City Light customers can go to

Install dual or triple-pane windows. Cover single-pane windows with clear plastic during cold, windy months.

Apply adhesive-backed, foam weather stripping to prevent cold air from seeping in around doors and windows.

Turn off and unplug appliances, lights and lamps not in use. Eliminate energy vampires with tips from

Replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones. Clean or replace filters. Check for rebates at

Turn the thermostat to 68degF or lower when you're at home and awake, and lower 7degF to 10degF when you're asleep or away. Use a programmable thermostat to make this happen automatically.

Find rebates and more energy-saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy at

Fix leaky pipes.

Install CFL or LED light bulbs.

Buy reusable terry-cloth washcloths and hand towels instead of paper towels.

Use baby oil to polish chrome — from faucets to hubcaps.

Make a solution of one part vinegar to one part warm water and use a squeegee to wash windows.

Rub tough streaks with crumpled newspaper and the vinegar solution.

Clean stainless-steel surfaces with four tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of water and use a soft cloth. Wipe dry with a clean cloth and polish with a dry cloth.

What's in your wallet

Avoid fees for late payments, overdrafts, ATM withdrawals. If you can't figure it out in the fine print, ask.

Charge only what you can pay off every month.

Understand the caps, expiration dates and redemption process for your cashback credit-card rewards program.

Pay cash. Ask for a discount if you pay in cash.


Sell or trade unused gift cards at sites such as and

Check income-tax withholding form to eliminate tax rebates. File your taxes as soon as possible if you are due a rebate. See for help.

Move money out of financial instruments that have zero returns. Shop for rates at

Refinance — everything. Negotiate for lower interest rates. Move your money to take advantage of lower fees, interest rates. Pay off high-interest rate accounts as soon as possible.


Cancel services you no longer need, use.

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