Save Money / Consumer News

7 small changes add up to huge annual savings

Monday, March 19, 2012

These days, every penny counts. But many people are wasting hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year on everyday items and services they can get for a whole lot less. Seven small changes in your life can turn into huge savings.

A loaf of Wonder Classic White bread sells for $4.29 at a supermarket. That may not seem like a lot, but at a bakery outlet just down the block, the same loaf sells for just 99 cents. So if you buy a loaf a week, you would save $171 a year. Now that's a lot of bread.

If Starbucks is costing you a lot of "bucks," you can save a bundle on the very same brew without cutting back on your coffee habit. Consumer Reports rates Starbucks' house blend the top-tasting coffee blend. If you order one 12-ounce-size cup five times a week, it will set you back $429 a year. That's several tanks of gas.

But you can buy the same house blend from Starbucks in a 1-pound bag that sells for $11.95, brew it at home, and slash your coffee budget by 71 percent. That's a savings of just over $306 for the year.

Want to rent a DVD for the night? Blockbuster charges $2.99 for new releases. The same movie at a Redbox kiosk is $1.20. But if you go to your public library you can get it for free, and there are plenty to choose from. Checking out just one movie a week over the course of a year will save you about $155 over Blockbuster.

If you want to see a movie on the big screen, prepare to shelve out $12.50 at some theaters. That's $50 for a family of four. But the same theater charges just $6 for the first showing before noon, a savings of more than 50 percent. So a family of four that goes to the movies twice a month would save $676 over the course of the year.

There's not much you can do about the sky-high cost of gas. But if you use a gas-rewards card, you could save up to 5 percent back on your purchases. And that can save you about $164 per year, or even more depending on your car's fuel economy, how many miles you drive and how high prices keep going.

If you're paying bills the old-fashioned way, it's costing you 45 cents for each stamp. Say you mail out 25 bills a month. That's costing you more than $11 per month in postage. These days most companies and utilities allow electronic payments that you can do online or with your smartphone with a downloadable application. You can easily save $135 a year or more if you have a lot of bills.

And finally, take your family on an excursion to a museum and you could easily spend $40 or more to get in. But several local museums offer free-admission days. At the Autry National Center, it's the second Tuesday of the month. So a once-a-month outing on a free admission day can save your family $480 or more.

For a calendar of days when museums across the Southland are free, visit MuseumsLA.org.

Add it all up, and that's an annual saving of more than $2,087 just by changing a few things in your life.

See these money-saving tips through photos.

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budget, economy, shopping, save money / consumer news, ric romero
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