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Personal finance writer Kelley Keehn kicks off our Save Money Now week with tips on how every household can slim down the family budget.

Secrets to Save Money Right Now!


Interest Rates

Say you buy a pair of shoes for $100. If you pay cash it’s only going to cost you the ticket price. But say you put it on your credit card and take a year to pay it off. The credit card company is going to charge you 17% interest, which means your shoes now cost $117. Now say you put it on a store credit card, where your interest rate is closer to 30%. After a year those shoes plus interest will cost you $130! Crazy! If you do use your credit card make sure you pay the balance in full every month. Don’t even give your purchases a chance to build interest.
 
Also, interest rates for credit cards vary from 7% to 20%. Call your bank and ask what their lowest interest rate is right now. 
 
Cable, Internet, Phone
 
If you’re not careful, this is one area where budgets can really get out of control. Each month look at your bill and really ask yourself if you’re getting the full value out of these services. Compare what the competition is offering and see if your current provider will match that deal. Ask your service provider: what’s the best deal right now. 
 
Bank Fees
 
There are countless sources of bank fees, and some of them are legitimate. The easiest way to avoid them is to use your own bank’s machines. The ATM will charge $1.50 service charge, and then your own bank charges you another $1.50. That’s $3 you’re paying to access your own money, only because you don’t want to walk two or three blocks.
 
If you feel as if you’re being unfairly charged bank fees, call your bank and ask if they’ll make an exception. You may not always succeed, but you never know unless you ask.
 
How to haggle:
 
  1. Call during business hours. You’re more likely to get a supervisor or someone in a position to give you the best deal.
  2. Be polite. You’re not lodging a complaint, you’re trying to find a better deal.
  3. Be persistent. Keep asking for a better deal until you get one. Do your research. If a competitor is offering a better price, make sure the deals are comparable. You don’t want to be caught in a lie.

Monday, October 17, 2011