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10 Steps to Save 10 Bucks in 10 Minutes

You know how it is with will power: You really thought you would make a commitment and stick to it, and you did - for about a week.

Many military families make the decision to save more money every year, but often fall short by buying into the misconception that saving money takes too much time.  The reality is that a little time and patience can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

In fact, many of the best ways to save only require an investment of 10 minutes or less.  Wise shoppers can save hundreds of dollars each year in minimal time simply by doing their homework.  Here's how:

Price comps.  Many stores, including Wal-Mart, will meet or beat any store's prices. Look through the Sunday circulars before you make your regular trip to a store that matches competitors' sale prices. (Call the customer service department to see if the store does this.) Then take the circulars to the store with you and get the lower price. In one recent week, I saved $25 on groceries and $50 on a VCR with this simple tool.  I also saved time and gasoline by not visiting several stores to shop the sales!

Online prices.  For higher priced items, go to the online site of your favorite store or, if you have one, check out the store's catalog.  Get the best online price, print out the price page and take it to your local store.  If the store cannot match the catalog or online price, consider ordering online and you still could save money.  Recently, I ordered an office item from a mainline store online that had a special offering no shipping charge for orders of $50 or more, plus I didn't have to pay tax!  The company routed the delivery through my local store and it delivered the product the next day (free of charge).  I saved about $120 on the item ? $23 in tax and $97 on the price.

Ask for substitutions.  Many stores will substitute other items of equal or greater value on out-of-stock sale items.  Several months ago, I spotted a digital camera originally priced at $139 and on sale for $99.  The retailer was out of the featured item and substituted an upgraded model ? which was on the shelf for $189! 

Ask for rainchecks. Ask for a raincheck at grocery, department and drug stores if they are out of the sale item.  The next time you shop, bring your raincheck and get the sale price.

Save at the gas pump.  Log onto www.gaspricewatch.com to find the cheapest gas stations in your neighborhood.  If you save 20 cents a gallon, you could have an extra $300 after a year (based on buying 30 gallons of gas per week for all your vehicles).

Home insurance.  You may be paying more for your home insurance than necessary because it's annually renewed and automatically charged to your escrow account. Request a copy of your homeowner's policy and shop around.  It takes an agent only 10 minutes to run a computerized quote that could save you several hundred dollars.

Selling your car.  Go to www.edmunds.com or www.kbb.com to get an accurate value of your car before you sell it.  Print out this sheet and show it to prospective buyers, if necessary.  Most people sell their cars for several hundred to several thousand dollars too little by not doing 10 minutes' worth of research.

Check the checker.  As you are checking out anywhere , be sure you see what you are being charged.  During the course of a lifetime, the average person could be overcharged thousands of dollars.  If you are overcharged, bring it to the cashier's attention.  Some stores even have an "it's right or it's free? policy, where the store gives you the item free if it charges you an incorrect amount.  I got a $16 double bag of diapers for free when one of my local grocers, who had this guarantee policy, overcharged me.

Savings links.  At my website, www.elliekay.com , I have several money-savings links that take only minutes to access. At www.coolsavings.com , you can sign up for local and national values to be delivered to your email account.  Some of these values, such as major department store sales, can add up to as much as 50 percent with savings on fashions, travel, coupons and free samples.

Pizza! Pizza!  The next time you order pizza, ask about the specials or coupon values for the week.  Three out of four pizza shops will give you the coupon value just for the asking, even if you don't have the coupons!  You can save anywhere from 20 to 50 percent (on a buy one/get one free special).

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