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Want to live better on the money you already make? Visit stretcher.com to find hundreds of articles to help you stretch your day and your dollar.

No more property tax surprises

I always hated opening up my property tax bill. This year, I've decided to put 1/12th of last year's bill in a separate account each month and save it for when the bill comes due. It'll make our budget tight, but it is better  that than a big bill on our credit card next December.

Bridget

The waiting game

If something costs more than $100, I make myself wait at least four days before buying it. I may miss out on a few bargains, but I've also avoided many unnecessary purchases and also found better deals. It gives me time to think of alternatives that don't cost money and also time to shop for a better deal. It's saved me thousands over the years!

Melissa

The online shopping trap

I know that many people buy stuff on the internet. I do as well, but it was  getting out of hand. I had about 10 companies that always sent me emails with tempting sales. Of course, I had to check them out! I found that when I unsubscribed from those daily/weekly/monthly emails, I was no longer tempted to spend. I can't believe how much money I have saved over this past year. This was my New Year's resolution for last year, and I am  continuing it again this year. If I don't see the fish, I don't feel the
need to put in the pole.

Seva

A more efficient refrigerator

I just recently found out that it costs about $12 a month to run my fridge. I wanted to make it as efficient as possible to save a few dollars each month. One way to do that is to make sure that the freezer is full. I fill water bottles and place them in any empty spaces in the freezer. I also clean the coils under the fridge once every two months. It only takes a few minutes with my vacuum. Even if I only save a couple of dollars a month, it's free money to me.

Nick

Finding affordable furniture

After we moved into our house, we started upgrading our furniture. We don't have much money, so buying new wasn't possible. Instead, we look for Craigslist ads where people say they're moving. I make a low offer and usually it's turned down, but I give them my number and tell them if they don't sell before they move to call. We just bought a beautiful bedroom set for almost nothing. It was too heavy to move cross country, and my offer was the best they received.

Alisa

Redefined lifestyle

My husband and I are getting ready for retirement in the next four years. Along with making financial preparations, we're also making some lifestyle changes. We'll probably stay in the home we've lived in for years, but we're gradually making it easier to maintain and care for it. This year, we'll work on getting rid of a bunch of clutter that's accumulated over the years. We will get rid of everything from the kids' toys that we've been storing for years to tools that we wouldn't use at our age. Not only will it make our retirement better, but as we get ready, we can also look forward to the day that we don't have to work anymore.

Betty

My year in review: credit cards

Each January, I take some time to review my credit card bills for the year. Some cards will give me one statement for the year. For others, I need to pull out my monthly statements. I look for spending patterns that need to be changed for the new year. Last year, I realized that I had some monthly automatic renewals that I wasn't using any longer, so I cancelled them. I am not sure what I'll find this year, but it could be money in the bank.

Rob

DIY carpet cleaning

My brother-in-law cleans carpets for a living. His advice if you want to do it yourself is to mix about two ounces of liquid laundry detergent to a gallon of water in a bucket. Take a stiff bristled brush and scrub the solution on the carpet. You'll need to get the carpet pretty wet. Then use a home cleaning machine with plain water to rinse the soap out of your carpet. A fan will speed up the drying process.

Aimee

Non-owner insurance savings

It's called "non-owner insurance." It's for those that drive infrequently, drive rental vehicles a lot, and don't own a car in their name. My adult daughter drives an older car of mine that I insure, but her
"non-owner policy" costs her less than $200 for six months. It is the basic insurance coverage required by state law and perfectly legal. It might make more sense for out-of-town college students that might only be driving during breaks or the summer than carrying them on a full policy for the family.
There are many companies out there that promote this insurance, but you need to check coverage carefully.

Debbie C.

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