Ten creative ways to save money now

  • Save money when you dine out by purchasing discounted gift certificates to your favorite local restaurants at Restaurant.com. Sign up for their e-mail updates, and you'll get offers for even steeper discounts (like 40%, 50%, and even 60% off) on their already discounted gift certificates.

  • Get your local Entertainment book! Visit Entertainment.com and purchase the book for your local area. The 2007 books are really discounted right now, and are valid through November. These books contain TONS of local discounts for everything from oil changes and department stores to movie theaters, restaurants, and everything else!

  • Shop your local thrift store. Thrift stores have junk...granted...but, you can often find treasures among the junk, if you're willing to look for it. And, you WILL save money! Plus, you'll likely help a worthy cause.

  • Buy an annual state park pass. A really fun way to get outside, get exercise, and spend time as a family is to visit your state parks. State residents usually pay a lot less for an annual pass than they would if they paid per visit. Plus, if you buy the annual pass you're more likely to want to make it worth your money by going more, and there's nothing more fun than getting outside and enjoying nature with your family.

  • Sign up for Hotwire.com's e-mail notifications. This is a discount travel site, where you can find tons of great discounted travel deals. But if you sign up for their e-mails, you'll get their "Travel Ticker" notifications that include radically reduced travel deals like $9 airfares from Spirit Airlines, and $300/person cruise deals. Why should seeing the world cost you an arm and a leg?

  • Look for the best price on the books you want to purchase by visiting allbookstores.com. This site will search all online bookstores and find you the best price on the books you love! They include a "buy" link directly to the store you choose.

  • Check gasbuddy.com for the best deals on gas in your area. They even have a widget for Mac users. They're tracking is kept up-to-date by local volunteers who report low prices they see. Become a volunteer, and help get the word out about low prices. It helps everyone!

  • If you are an outdoorsy person, like to camp, etc., you have to shop at Sierra Trading Post. Even if you're not outdoorsy, but like name brands like Teva, Chaco, The North Face, Columbia, etc., this is the place for you. They have everything for fishing, watersports, winter sports (skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.), backpacking, camping, cycling, etc., at WAY below retail. It's definitely worth it to sign up for their deal flyers, too. Other sites that are great for this kind of thing are www.campmor.com, www.outdooroutlet.com, and www.rei-outlet.com.

  • If you're suffering from high credit card interest rates (who hasn't been there?), just call your credit card company up and ask for a lower rate. More times than not, they'll give you a lower rate! All you have to do is ask.

  • And I saved the best for last: FREECYCLE! If you have not started freecycling, it's never too late to start. Visit www.freecycle.org and join your local group. Freecycle is like recycling, only people are giving things away. This organization gives a whole new life to the phrase, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." You just never know what someone might be giving away that you want--a George Foreman grill, a queen sized bed, a bike, etc. You name it...odds are that eventually you can find it on Freecycle. We got a wonderful electric skillet for FREE, just by searching our local freecycle. Many times people are giving away plants, pets, trees, household goods, landscaping materials, and everything else from A-Z. And you can give away your stuff, too! Just post it, and let someone else come take it off your hands.

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