Nuggets of Truth to keep you Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

  • If you have a medical problem, be willing to pay for a second opinion from a reputable physician. It's a sound medical practice and a good investment that could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on a possibly unnecessary procedure.
  • Make a list before you do your grocery shopping. Figure out a weekly menu and buy what you need for that. Organize your list, and eliminate nonfood items, such as toothpaste or soap, that can often be purchased for less at discount stores. And be sure to eat before you go.
  • Keep lamps, candles, and television sets away from thermostats. They can throw off the room temperature by making the thermostat believe that the room is warmer than it actually is.
  • Before making a purchase, take two separate shopping trips – the first to compare prices and quality, and the second to actually buy. Avoid carrying credit cards, a checkbook, or much cash on the comparison-shopping excursion. After the second trip when you've made your purchase, calculate how much you've saved and reward yourself with a small present or treat that costs no more than 10 percent of the savings total (it's important to reward yourself for the behavior that you want to encourage). Invest the rest in your savings plan.
  • For one month, record everything that you spend for food, including restaurant meals, vending machines, delis, and convenience stores. That's your true food budget. Look for areas where you can trim costs, but also remember that you're not perfect; so be sure to include those occasional splurges in your budgeting.
  • Buy clothing at the end of the season. If you plan ahead, you can save big money on expensive items (such as sweaters and coats) by taking advantage of off-season sales. Be sure to store the items properly so that they don't get damaged or moth-eaten.
  • If you're in need of a hospital stay, bring your own things (as much as you possibly can). Hospitals charge exorbitant prices for every little thing – every aspirin, tissue, pillow, nightgown, or slippers will find their way onto your bill.
  • Automatic teller machines can be serious temptations if you're trying to save money. They make withdrawing and spending just too darn easy. Most of them also add on a service charge for each transaction if you don't have an account with the bank that owns the one you're using. Plan ahead, and withdraw cash directly from your bank. Having to make a trip to the bank each time you want some extra cash may help you to limit your number of withdrawals.
  • Attend free investment seminars. Reputable investment firms often offer workshops that provide valuable advice because they're hoping you'll become a client. But you're under no obligation to do business with them, and you might pick up some valuable tips.
  • Check your refrigerator for energy efficiency. Refrigerators represent about 30 percent of most electric bills. Open the door and place a dollar bill against the seal, then close the door. If you can remove the bill easily, the seal needs replacing.
  • When you're shopping for a new car, go to the dealership at the end of the day when the salespeople are tired and may be less inclined to haggle extensively. Also, visit dealerships at the end of the month. Salespeople have quotas to make. If yours hasn't reached his or hers yet, you could be looking at an individual who's fairly desperate to make a sale. You may also want to do your car shopping around Christmas when few people are buying new cars. The salespeople can be much more accommodating then.
  • Prepay the principal on your mortgage. An extra $200 to $300 a month can cut a 30-year mortgage down to 15 years and save you more than $100,000 in interest payments. But make sure that your mortgage doesn't have a prepayment penalty.
  • Go to skating and roller rinks, swimming pools, bowling alleys, and other recreational facilities at off-peak times, when rates are often lower.
  • If you need elective surgery or treatment, shop around for hospitals. They're big-business entities, and like any other businesses, they charge differently for their services. Be an educated consumer. Ask about accreditation, which should guarantee you at least a minimum of competence. Compare costs for rooms, tests, and surgery. Some states have agencies that can assist you with this information.
  • Don't buy large quantities of over-the-counter medication if you aren't going to use them in the near future. A bottle of 500 aspirin may sound like a great deal at the time, but if you don't use the medication by the expiration date it'll go bad. You've then wasted your money. Buy only what you think you'll use.

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