Slip in without paying. Museum admissions can be pricey — $20 or more for an adult. But don’t sweat it. Many museums offer unadvertised free admission one day each month, and some have free evening hours on a designated day, too. Take the Chicago Children’s Museum where the first Monday of every month offers free admission for all kids ages 15 and younger. And every Thursday from 5-8 p.m., the museum is free to all. Admission to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is free every Friday from 4-8 p.m. San Francisco’s Exploratorium is free on the first Wednesday of the month. Remarkably, the world-class St. Louis Zoo is free to all, all the time. Check any zoo or museum’s website or call to find out about free but unadvertised admission times.
Before you go to the pharmacy, go to the website for that medication to check for coupons and rebates you can use to reduce your co-pay. Here’s an example: In the past, Nasonex.com has offered a printable $10 coupon, and you can come back every 30 days to print out an additional savings coupon for your refill — up to $120 per year. Each offer is different, as is each manufacturer, so read all terms and conditions. Check often, as offers change frequently.
Trick your toilet. If you have an older 5.5-gallon flush toilet, you’re using 13,000 gallons of fresh water per family member, per year. Here’s a sneaky way to reduce water consumption without springing for a new ultra-low flow toilet and the labor to install it. Fill a clean, large plastic bottle with water, of a size that will fit inside the toilet tank (a 2-quart plastic bottle is a good choice). Lift the lid off the tank and set this plastic container in the tank on the opposite side of the flushing mechanism. The toilet will flush fine and you’ll use less water with every flush.
The sneak attack. Here’s a really sneaky way to whack a big load of interest from your home mortgage and pay it off many years early. Add 1/12 of a mortgage payment to your regular payment each month. That doesn’t seem like much, but the effect is huge. Every twelve months, you will make the equivalent of 13 mortgage payments — one extra payment each year. That’s the sneaky secret. Let’s say you bought a house for $170,000 at 6 percent interest fixed for 30 years. The monthly payment is $1,019.23. One-twelfth is $84.94 — the amount you will pay each month in addition to your regular payment. Sticking to this plan, you would pay off your 30-year mortgage in 24 years and six months, and as a bonus you would save $41,746.69 in interest charges. Wow.
Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at mary@everyday
cheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.