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Better money habits add up to savings
Save money
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Don’t wait until the end of December to do a year-end financial review. This is a good time to begin developing new habits that will help you save money next year. Here are some ideas:
Utility bills: If you had a goal this year of reducing your utility expenses by always turning off lights and lowering the thermostat, did you do it? If your savings weren’t what you expected because you didn’t always follow through, set a goal for next year. Notch the thermostat down a degree or two and turn off lights you’re not using until it becomes an easy habit.
Cell phones: If you’re on a monthly plan that gives you a certain number of minutes for a set price, chances are you use up those minutes because they’re there. You can save money, however, by changing to an inexpensive phone with pre-paid minutes that you refill as needed. Your cell phone usage is likely to go down when you consider that each call is costing you a nickel or a dime per minute. The initial savings: no monthly bill. Additional savings: fewer minutes used.
Grocery coupons: You have to do the work — cut them out of the paper, plan meals around items that are covered by the coupons — but there is serious money to be saved using grocery coupons. Investigate online coupon sites, too. (Generate a throwaway e-mail address for those sites requiring that you sign up.) Check with your local store before you present them with printed coupons. Some stores won’t take them. Pay attention to expiration dates. Rule of thumb: Don’t be tempted to buy food your family won’t eat just because it looks like a good deal.
Sales fliers, ads and Internet comparison: Get in the habit of looking at the flyers and ads in the newspaper. Compare any intended purchases to what you find online. Plus, a local store with a Web site might list specials that never show up in a print ad.
Think used: Check thrift shops for merchandise in good condition. You can find clothing, furniture, tools, books, children’s games, housewares and much more at very low prices.
Take some steps now, and you’ll be positioned to start the New Year with better money-saving habits.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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