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I had a nightmare on New Year's Eve, a weird fusion of Herman Cain lecturing me about his 9*9*9 tax plan and an ancient Mayan princess warning me that the world will end on 12*12, all the while a toucan fed me Coco Puffs atop a Mayan temple. Maybe too much champagne?
When I woke on the first day of the New Year, I knew what I had to do: Share 12 ways you might be able to save $12 (or more) each week in 2012:
1.) Give generic and house brand products a try, starting with items you purchase most frequently. You'll generally save 20 - 50 percent off of brand name equivalents.
2.) Contact your communication provider(s) and ask about discounts available if you bundle services.
3.) Line-dry your laundry whenever possible; you'll save about $200 annually in the cost of operating the typical clothes dryer, and many clothes will last about 50 percent longer.
4.) Order tap water only when you dine out or order fast food; the average family of four will save about $800 a year if they do!
5.) Force yourself to get rid of an item of clothing (sell it or donate it to charity) before you buy a new garment. If you do, I'll bet you'll decide you really don't need to go shopping after all.
6.) Bring your lunch to work rather than dine out. Too lazy? Try carrying an entire bag of groceries - loaf of bread, package of cold cut, fruit, etc. - with you every Monday. If you have it on hand in the office, you'll use it.
7.) Resolve to do more things for yourself - wash your own car, cut your grass, clean your own house - you'll save big and get some exercise at the same time.
8.) Don't drive your car for any trip shorter than one mile. Walk instead, or wait and consolidate those errands into longer trips. On average, driving costs 50 cents to one dollar per mile when you factor in all the costs.
9.) Give up paper towels and use sponges and dish rags in the kitchen instead. It saves us about $100 per year.
10.) Try paying with cash only (no credit cards); studies have shown that you'll spend a lot less, because psychologically it's much harder to part with actual greenbacks.
11.) Contact your insurance agent(s) and ask them to review your policies to find ways to lower your premiums - you might be surprised how they'll sharpen their pencils if they think you're shopping around.
12.) Visit your local library and discover all of the resources available there - DVDs, CDs, computer access, periodical, programs, and, yes, books. I'll bet your spending on entertainment will plummet.
Happy 2012! Now, if the world doesn't end, you'll have a nice little nest egg by this time next year.
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Photo by Amarand Agasi