Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Consumer

Spend less on everything

With the new year, many folks' resolutions will be to spend less and save more. "Even if you think you've cut just about all the fat from your budget, you can probably slash even more," said Noreen Perrotta, editor of Consumer Reports Money Adviser. Here are some tips from the experts at Money Adviser on how to spend less on everything.

Cut health care costs

Comparison shop every year. You have a choice of health plans at work or through Medicare. Review your options during the open enrollment period (usually in the fall). Find out what each plan covers so you know what you'll have to pay. Consider deductibles, copayments and other cost sharing in addition to the monthly premium.

Buy drugs at big-box stores. Consumer Reports compared the prices of over-the-counter drugs and found they were up to 50 percent cheaper at Target and Walmart than at local supermarkets across the United States. Those two stores also charge just $4 for a 30-day supply of many generic prescription drugs. For an even better bargain, get a 90-day supply for $10. Similar programs are offered by CVS, Kmart, Sam's Club and Walgreens, although some, like CVS, charge an annual membership fee. Some local pharmacies will match the low prices at chain stores, but you have to ask.

Cut food bills

Shop the supermarket sale cycle. Food staples like cereal and chicken hit their lowest prices once every 12 weeks. Make a note when you see sales and you'll know when to stock up next.

Make coupon searches simple. There are so many online coupon sites that searching all of them could be a full-time job. To save time, stick to just a couple of them. CRMA found that Coupons.com and SmartSource.com usually have up to 100 deals at a time. And both sites have new mobile versions that let you scroll through offers from a smartphone without downloading software or apps.

Cut car costs

Update your insurance annually. The auto coverage you signed up for when your car was new is often more than you need as it ages and depreciates. It's a good idea to call your insurance company once a year to see whether you should adjust some coverage. Every year you don't file a claim or get a ticket, for example, makes you a lower risk, which could qualify you for a lower rate. But you have to ask. You might find a cheaper policy by calling other insurers for quotes or going to price-comparison websites like AccuQuote and Insure.com.

Cut entertainment costs

Slash restaurant tabs. BiteHunter.com lists restaurant specials and daily deals from other sites, such as Citysearch and Groupon. It's easy to search by cuisine, deal or restaurant in a particular city. EatDrinkDeals.com posts discounts from national and regional chains.

Cut pet care costs

Buy pet food at Target or Walmart. When Consumer Reports sent 21 secret shoppers to stores around the country to price top-selling brands of dog and cat food, prices at those two stores were about 20 percent less. Online pet-food prices were especially high; Target and Walmart beat them by an average of 50 percent. If your vet has recommended a premium food brand because your pet has health issues, check prices at both PetSmart and Petco.

Ask vets about costs. If your pet is prescribed a medication that is also given to humans, compare the vet's price to the cost of filling it at a drugstore, supermarket pharmacy or big-box retailer. If you're shopping for a new veterinarian, call a few offices nearby and ask what they charge for an annual exam as a gauge of other costs.

Cut clothing costs

Go to outlets for off-season duds. In-season items are often made specifically for the outlets, and manufacturers might cut corners, as Consumer Reports has discovered in its tests. Out-of-season clothes, however, might come from their nonoutlet locations and be higher quality. Still, inspect them for defects before you buy.

Consumer Reports Money Adviser is a monthly, subscription-only newsletter that answers tough money questions and provides expert financial advice. Its proven information and successful strategies can make any financial decision an easy one. Each month, CRMA provides feature articles and helpful investment, savings and spending advice that will help prepare consumers for anything life may bring them. For more information, visit www.ConsumerReports.org.

Comments
Shopping factors range from super cool to super cute this week

Shopping factors range from super cool to super cute this week

COOL FACTOR: TANK ART SHOWHow cool would it be to ride around on an original piece of art? Motorcycle tank art is a genre unto itself, and having one that an artist has embellished should up the cool factor on any bike. The folks at Grayspeed Cycles ...
Published: 02/15/18
5 things to do under $5: Apple's Steve Wozniak, mini golf in the library, Clearwater street parties

5 things to do under $5: Apple's Steve Wozniak, mini golf in the library, Clearwater street parties

1 Steve Wozniak: The Apple co-founder, above, will give a free talk on Tuesday, Feb. 20 as part of USF Muma College of Business’ new Thought Leader series. The college’s dean will conduct a discussion about everything from the need for en...
Published: 02/14/18
Tickets on sale this week: Styx with Joan Jett, Country Megaticket, Cedric the Entertainer, Rays home games

Tickets on sale this week: Styx with Joan Jett, Country Megaticket, Cedric the Entertainer, Rays home games

Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:• Country Mega Ticket, various dates and times at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, $159-$799, on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the box office, 4802 U.S. 301 N, or by calling (813) 740-...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Florida Holocaust Museum’s Eichmann exhibit recounts daring capture, riveting trial of Nazi officer

Florida Holocaust Museum’s Eichmann exhibit recounts daring capture, riveting trial of Nazi officer

In May 1960, the young nation of Israel appeared to be sending a delegation to Argentina to join the country’s 150th anniversary celebration. But the plan instead was to smuggle agents into the country to carry out one of the most daring espionage op...
Published: 02/08/18
Red hot Valentine’s Day gift and date ideas

Red hot Valentine’s Day gift and date ideas

With Valentine's Day happening next Wednesday, you actually have plenty of time to come up with a romantic gesture for your boo. Here are a few suggestions to help set hearts aflutter.Flowers: The traditional gift might seem to lack creativity, but n...
Published: 02/08/18
5 things to do under $5: Rays Fan Fest, Mardi Gras parade

5 things to do under $5: Rays Fan Fest, Mardi Gras parade

1Rays Fan Fest: The free day of play in Tropicana Field returns to rev up fans for baseball season with Tampa Bay Rays players and coaches on hand. This year’s free activities include clubhouse tours, arcade games and a food tasting. Kids can run the...
Published: 02/07/18
5 things to do under $5: St. Pete Beach Seafood and Music Festival, high-fashion history

5 things to do under $5: St. Pete Beach Seafood and Music Festival, high-fashion history

1 St. Pete Beach Seafood and Music Festival: This new event promises local seafood along with vegetarian options, a marketplace and music by Act 3, the Black Honkeys, Greg Billings Band, Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday alo...
Updated one month ago
Plan your weekend Feb. 2-4: Monster Jam returns, Mo'Nique, Coin, giant light sculpture at Glazer Museum

Plan your weekend Feb. 2-4: Monster Jam returns, Mo'Nique, Coin, giant light sculpture at Glazer Museum

Take the kids Monster Jam: Just when lesser cars thought it was safe, Monster Jam returns to Raymond James Stadium to run the specially built track a second time. Come early to tailgate and get pictures with the trucks and drivers in the Party in th...
Updated one month ago
Localtopia grows again and places to make your own valentines

Localtopia grows again and places to make your own valentines

Always Growing: LocaltopiaWhat started five years ago as a showcase of St. Petersburg businesses and merchants has expanded to a full-fledged festival with more than a market. Presented by Keep St. Pete Local, Localtopia returns to Williams Park on S...
Updated one month ago
Top things to do this week: Mo’Nique, Winter’s Tail-Gate Party, Glazer Museum art

Top things to do this week: Mo’Nique, Winter’s Tail-Gate Party, Glazer Museum art

FIERCE COMEDY: Mo’Nique Actor and standup star Mo’Nique broke into comedy as a no-holds-barred, brutally honest champion of heavyset women on showcases like HBO’s Def Comedy Jam or BET’s Comic View. That led to her starring role as a single mother at...
Updated one month ago