Dollar Stretcher: Save on auto insurance, more

Marco Eagle

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Dollar Stretcher

Auto insurance discounts

If you're under 25 or over 50, you should ask your agent about discounts for completing safe driving courses. Many high schools offer the courses, and they are generally available to all ages. Ask your agent what courses are approved in your area. This is just one more way to keep the cost of driving down.


Grocery cart rebound

Before I put anything in my grocery cart that’s not on my list, I ask myself a couple of questions. Is it healthy for my family? Is it something that I’m sure we’ll eat? Do we have something similar already at home?

Would I really miss it if I didn’t buy it? Many times, I find that I’m happy just leaving whatever it is on the shelf.


More:Dollar Stretcher: A path to lower property taxes

Trash bill savings

Many places combine your water, sewer, and trash bill and base the amount on how much water you use. If you’re about to fill a swimming pool for the summer, you may get an adjustment to your bill if you ask. It’s a simple matter of calling them and asking. They may say no, but it only takes a few minutes to call and find out.


Single parents

It’s really hard for a single parent to avoid credit card debt. One thing that helped me when I got divorced six years ago was to find another single mom to share a house with. Not only did it reduce my rent big time, but it also allows us to share many household duties. We each cook dinner on alternating days and swap some cleaning tasks. You need to pick someone that you like and whose kids get along with your kids. She’s dating someone now, and while I wish her well, I hate to think that I might be losing my roomie.


$10 decor flip

Here’s a really cheap way to freshen the decor of your family or living room. Update your throw pillows for just a few dollars. Most throw pillows are the same size as cloth napkins. I look for something I like at Target, Walmart, or my favorite thrift store. I tack stitch it to the pillow. You probably could even get by with safety pins if you don't sew at all. For just a couple of dollars, I can add a splash of color that gives the room a new feel.


Teaching children to save

Like many families, we eat at restaurants occasionally. Our kids are in grade school, and we use these opportunities to teach them how to save. We give them the option of ordering a drink or not. If they don’t order a drink, we give them the money that was saved. They can use the money to put in their bank or spend on something else. The concept is easy for them to understand and hopefully the lessons they learn will help them save when they get older.


Low mileage discount

Even though I own a car, I still take public transportation to work most days. Why? I do it because it saves me time and money. Instead of driving, I can catch up on emails while I ride the bus. I save on gasoline and put fewer miles on my car. My car is six years old, and I only have 21k miles on it. I should be able to keep it for 20 years if I want. Also, because I drive so little, I get a low-mileage insurance discount, too. I love the convenience of having a car when I go grocery shopping or need to buy something bulky, but leaving the car in the garage saves me a ton.


Wine waste

We entertain at home. Occasionally, we open a bottle of wine but don’t finish it. I always hate to pour it down the drain, but it does not taste as good the next day. I also use wine in cooking sometimes, but unless we are going to have wine with the meal, I can’t see opening a bottle for the little bit I want for cooking. I have an answer now. I save any leftover wine from the meal by freezing it in an ice cube tray. I can use one or more of the cubes when I’m cooking. That's two sources of wine waste eliminated.


Casserole savings

Here’s a tip for the working mom. I make three casseroles at a time by tripling my recipes. I cut the time I spend preparing dinner big time. I prepare all three at once. That means only one clean-up. I put all three in the oven, but two of them come out when they're about 65 percent done. I freeze them for another day. I save because I’m buying ingredients in bulk. It also makes it easier to avoid picking up a pizza or fast food if I can pull a casserole out of the freezer and have a meal in 30 minutes. I think it's healthier for my family, too. It's still challenging being a working mom, but casseroles make dinner time much easier to face in my house.


Prescription pill cautions

I know that many people try to reduce their pharmacy bill by cutting prescription meds in half. That may be a good idea for some prescriptions, but not for all. You need to consider whether the pill is time-released or made with some special coating. Also remember that unless you’re very good at cutting them, you probably aren't getting exactly half of the pill’s amount. Another problem some people have is with generics. Their active ingredient could be the same as the name brand, but you might be allergic to some other non-active ingredient in the pill. Depending on the med, you might be able to get a sample or two of the generic before filling your script with it.


Affordable wedding dress

My fiance and I want a nice wedding, but we don’t have a lot of money to spend. Finding a dress was difficult. I saw dresses I liked, but the prices were beyond my budget. Then I found a white bridesmaid dress that I loved! It looks great on me, and I can afford it!


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