Saving by the Numbers

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Here are 20 new resources that, among other things, will help consumers to save money or spend it wisely, to enable folks to get good customer service or to do good in the world even if they’re broke.
3 mistakes I made that cost me thousands. Including choosing the wrong health insurance plan for your family. Here, a family selected a 90/10 plan instead of an HMO, and found themselves on the hook for thousands of dollars when their children were born:

In the end, we ended up paying between $2,500 and $3,000 total when we could have just paid $250 under the HMO plan.

3 simple tips to avoid cable-Internet service rip-offs.
Including taking the illogical but often cost-effective move to get a bundled service package rather than Internet alone:

Because we both do a lot of work at home, and because streaming entertainment can take up a lot of bandwidth, we knew we’d need a fairly high speed internet connection. But of all of the companies that could deliver internet to us, it was more expensive to buy just the internet service. No matter how many times we would say, “We want ONLY internet” we were always met with “You’ll spend less if you get more.”

3 ways to get what you want from customer service. Including learning from those who have complained before you:

Unhappy consumers gather online at sites like,,,,, and These six — which recently earned accolades from the Consumer Federation of America — have logged thousands of complaints, so they can be useful in helping you determine what type of remediation to request.

3 credit card traps to steer clear of. Including promotions that offer 0% balance transfers—but that have hefty balance transfer fees:

Even if the 0% is applied to balance transfers, a balance transfer fee could completely undercut the benefit of the lower interest rate. These fees are rising, with some cards now charging 4 or 5% of the balance, “so you really have to do the math to decide if the transfer fee is worthwhile,” [ CEO Tim]Chen says.

4 things kids should know about money. Including the concept that they should stand on their own feet, financially speaking, by the time they’re 23:

Research shows that kids who get taken off their parents’ dole in a timely fashion, on average, pull in 20% more lifetime earnings.

4-step financial guide for your 20s. Including the advice that you’re never too young to start socking away money for retirement:

If you start saving just $150 a month at age 25, assuming an 8% return, you’ll wind up with $527,142 by the time you turn 65. Waiting an extra five years to start saving will cost you $180,766.

5 worst maintenance scams. Including the installation of a gas-saving device.

Consumer Reports has studied this extensively and they have yet to find something that actually improves fuel economy. Don’t accelerate too quickly, don’t slam on the brake, empty your trunk of junk, learn to coast effectively, pick up some tips of hypermilers, and don’t buy “gas saving devices.”

5 tips to help the job prospects of the long-term unemployed. Including filling in employment gaps on your resume:

If you’ve been busy during your unemployment, show it. If you’re using relevant skills for volunteer work, or to build a blog or a house, put it on your resume. And if you haven’t been doing those things, what’s stopping you?

5 ways to indulge and still save. Including saving money by giving up something else you don’t enjoy quite as much:

Say your indulgence is cable TV. It’s not like you save money by enjoying it in moderation (the cable company won’t cut your bill in half because you only watch TV every other night). If you really value ESPN or Showtime, commit to cutting out something else, such as other entertainment (movies, concerts, amusement parks).

6 ways to find low-cost health care. Including the utilization of walk-in clinics:

If you just have a minor medical issue, you don’t really need a hospital or even a doctor’s office. Many chain drugstores like Walgreens and CVS already have this kind of clinic on-site. Every state also maintains centrally located county health clinics, with all the equipment for a standard examination.

7 tips to save money on medical expenses. Including telling your doctor which prescription drugs are and aren’t covered with your policy:

Bring your formulary to every doctor visit. A formulary is a list of drugs your insurance covers. No way can your doctor know what’s on every formulary. If the information is not readily available, he’ll just have to guess.

9 good reasons to can your own food. Including the possibility that, if you know what you’re doing, they make great (and essentially free) gifts:

Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like a jar of homemade plum preserves. Come Christmas time, home canners have the upper hand in the gift giving department, as a well-stocked pantry of jams, jellies & pickles ensures you have a solid back-up plan to cover everyone on the list.

9 tips for talking to kids about money. Including doing the monthly budget as a family:

We sit down every weekend and do our budget for the week. We have the kids help review the budget, and by putting the cash in our envelopes. It helps them to see that we have an allowance, too.

10 places where you can buy a home for less than $800 a month.
Including Austin, Texas:

Great barbecue, abundant green space, and a world-class music scene have turned this city of 735,000 into one of the nation’s most beloved destinations… The median home price in the Austin area stood at nearly $197,000 in the second quarter of this year, a slight increase from a year earlier. After a 20 percent down payment—of $39,400—monthly payments for mortgage principal and interest on a median-priced home in Austin come to $782.

10 reasons to buy a home. Including the satisfaction that it’ll totally be all yours:

You can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension–zoning permitted–or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible. You’ll feel better about your own place if you own it than if you rent.

10 weird jobs that pay really well. Including the professional pearl diver:

It’s a dangerous occupation, but diving for pearls in Australia pays well. Offshore rates are $1,300 Australian dollars ($1,216 American) per day, and overseas daily rates start at $500 American.

13 things your car dealer won’t tell you. Including guaranteed trade-in gimmicks:

Ever wonder about those ads that promise a minimum $3,000 trade-in value for your clunker? Those dealerships also pad the sales price to make up for the difference.

14 perennial herbs and vegetables you should grow (and you’ll never have to replant). Including asparagus:

The best known perennial, plant the crowns and wait a few years, it will produce asparagus in the Spring. Survives USDA Hardiness 5a to 8a.

20 ways to improve the world, even if you’re broke. Including donating your wedding dress:

Making Memories ( is an awesome charity that helps women with metastatic breast cancer live out their dreams. Many of the wishes granted by Making Memories involve weddings, so the charity makes great use of the wedding dress you’ve got hanging in your closet.

40 recommendations for whether you should buy something new or used.
Including pets (used):

Buy a pet from a professional breeder or store and it can set you back several hundreds or thousands of dollars. Add on the standard shots and vet bills and you might as well pay for a human child. Instead, adopt a pre-owned pet from your local animal shelter and get a new family member, fees, and vaccines at a substantially lower cost. You’ll also avoid supporting the infamous “puppy mills.”