10 Tips for Making Your Dollar Stretch

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If you've been laid off recently or are just plain nervous about the state of the economy, you're probably trying to cut corners and save a little extra cash wherever you can. Here are a few quick and easy ways to do just that.

1. Ask For a Discount

Call your telephone company and Internet service provider and ask for a discount. You might be surprised. Do the same at every store you shop at. Many stores offer discounts to seniors, grandparents, and even parents of twins. Find out if you qualify for any of the discounts offered by your favorite merchants. Also be sure to check out local gas stations that have discounted prices for consumers who pay cash or fill up their tanks on certain days of the week.

2. Comparison Shop Online

Instead of driving all over town, save time and money by shopping online where it's easy to compare prices. Don't forget to check out those coupon code websites too.

3. Switch to a Credit Card with Rewards

Sometimes using a credit card is a must, so if you're going to use one, why not get one with a rewards program? For instance, a rewards credit card is a great idea if you use a credit card to buy gas or groceries on a regular basis.

4. Ditch Magazine Subscriptions

If you spend most of your time online these days, it may be worthwhile to cancel your print subscriptions, especially since most magazines offer online editions as well.

5. Check Out Free Entertainment

With movie tickets, restaurant meals, and gas prices on the rise, now's the time to check out free local entertainment. Many communities offer family movie nights, musical performances, and other activities for free at local parks, museums, or community centers.

6. Pay Utilities in Advance

Many cell phone providers, Internet service providers, and cable and phone companies offer discounts if you pay the entire year in advance.

7. Give Up Your Telephone Land Line

If you already have a cell phone and are tight on cash, you might want to think about getting rid of your landline completely. Another alternative is to switch to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service such as Vonage or Skype.

8. Start a Gift Box for Birthdays and Holidays

Instead of waiting until the last minute to buy birthday and holiday presents, buy gifts whenever you see them on sale throughout the year and store them until needed. You'll save money and time.

9. Switch to CFL bulbs

Energy efficient CFL bulbs are better for the environment and your pocket book. Replacing your regular light bulbs with CFL bulbs is something you can do all at once or on an as-needed basis. For example, buy CFL bulbs when they are on sale (they're more expensive than regular light bulbs), and when a regular light bulb burns out, replace it with a CFL bulb. Easy!

10. Maintain Your Vehicle

Yes, you've heard it a million times before, but it really does help save gas and money because your car runs more efficiently. Keep your car in tip-top condition by regularly maintaining it. Changing the oil (synthetic oil is often better), fuel, and air filters, and properly inflating tires are a couple of simple ways to do this.