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'Good Morning America' correspondent's book offers tips on saving big bucks

Elisabeth Leamy, consumer correspondent for Good Morning America, offers tips in her new book, Save Big.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

Elisabeth Leamy, consumer correspondent for Good Morning America, offers tips in her new book, Save Big.

Don't skip the latte! Oh, and inflate your tires — but not to save a few bucks.

Save money, sure. But learn how to SAVE BIG, rather than pinching pennies that will take you a lifetime to accumulate.

Welcome to Elisabeth Leamy's world of how to SAVE BIG, the title of the Good Morning America consumer correspondent's new book. Not that you avoid all small savings tips, but Leamy wants consumers to find big ways to save money faster.

The notion resonates with me because in these troubled economic times we sometimes need a latte, or a spa treatment or a golf outing to ease the pressure. But it doesn't feel like we can (though we later go financially stir crazy and end up splurging).

So I had a talk with Leamy and a look at her book to see how to SAVE BIG rather than small.

Is it possible for everyday folks to do?

"People say to me, 'You're educated. You make good money. I can't do that,' " she said. "I reject that. These big savings steps are not hard to do."

So how does Leamy save big?

Reduce your top five costs, she says, and you'll save thousands. Those include costs related to your home, car, health care, credit and groceries.

Though she pays significant attention to home ownership — about a third of her book focuses on such ideas as selling your house yourself and using tax benefits — Leamy offers something for everyone on how to save, and big.

For example, need a car? Buy a used car instead of a new one and save $10,000 or even $20,000 on the car of your choice.

Sure, you have to do some homework, but the reality is you can find even the nice luxury car for a lot less. While inflating your tires to the right level saves you about $9 a month, Leamy touts some $152,417 in car savings in her book.

"You would have to properly inflate the tires of five cars for 282 years to match that!" she says in the book.

In all, SAVE BIG shows consumers how to save $1,176,916, or the equivalent of about 294,229 lattes.

One of Leamy's recommendations that most any consumer can benefit from is her suggestions for grocery savings. Take her suggestion about "price matching." She calls it "our first guerilla grocery shopping weapon."

Rather than running around to different stores to buy items at sale prices, find one store that honors other stores' prices and get everything there.

Some stores will "beat their competitors prices rather than just matching them," Leamy says in her book. "For example, Lowe's and Home Depot both promise to beat each other's prices by 10 percent."

Leamy also recommends stockpiling by catching "seasonal" specialties. Did you know there are spaghetti sauce wars in September between Ragu and Prego? And Quaker has sales in January, she says.

In her estimation, Leamy says, price matching can save as much as $10,000 a year in grocery costs.

"I thought people would really like to hear this," Leamy said of the book. "You want to have some pleasures in life," rather than avoiding a latte, always packing a lunch and constantly checking the tires.

So here's the Edge:

• Think about big ways to save. Leamy emphasizes a strong credit score can save you $2,916 a year on your mortgage. Raising your health insurance deductible can save $2,700.

• Price match when grocery shopping. Leamy says the Web site CouponMom.com can help you with price matching and other savings.

• Negotiate with retailers for products, banks for interest rates and car dealers for deals.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2332.

'Good Morning America' correspondent's book offers tips on saving big bucks 03/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 5, 2010 9:57pm]

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