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The Thrifty 50

A wealth of clever ways to spend less—from you, our readers.

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26. Trim your premium..."Taking an inexpensive refresher course in driving safety earned me a 5 percent discount on my car insurance." —Robert DeBellis, Aventura, Florida [For a course near you, go to aarp.org/drive. —Ed.]

27. ...Or comparison-shop it. "I had been with my auto-insurance company for 13 years and had no tickets or accidents. But when I went on the insurer's website as a new customer, the quote came back for $250 below my current rate. I was so mad I went with another company and saved $600!" —Joy Dove, West Jefferson, North Carolina

28. Clean with shampoo."I use an inexpensive brand for scrubbing tubs and tiles. It's nontoxic, smells good, and costs a lot less than cleansers." —Lourdes Cortez, Staten Island, New York

29. Clean with vinegar. "Forget about expensive name-brand cleaning products. You can do a lot with white vinegar and salt, and they are not toxic." —Heidi Ross, Centennial, Colorado

30. Get a radio discount. "Some stations have coupons worth 30 to 75 percent off the regular price for dining, lodging, massages, and getaways." —Dorothy Baker, Boyne Falls, Michigan

31. Get a loyalty discount. "I register as a frequent diner with various restaurants to receive coupons and unadvertised specials." —Linda Granzow, Mesa, Arizona

32. Get the "I asked" discount. "Always ask if an establishment has a discount for people over 50. Many do, but they won't offer it unless you ask." —Cliff Johnston, China Spring, Texas

33. Print your own greeting cards. "I use the computer." —Beatrice O'Kelly, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

34. Save on sirloin."Ask your supermarket manager which day is best for discounts on meat. I have purchased beautiful cuts for about one-fourth the original price, and I have never gotten spoiled meat." —Barbara Stanley, Blairsville, Georgia

35. Dust off the pressure cooker."Its speed saves energy, and, to my surprise, some dishes even taste better, like the lentil soup I make with a quick ham-hock broth." —Beverly Wilson, Lincoln, New Mexico

36. Set a budget.

37. Clip coupons.

38. Buy in bulk.

39. Take the bus.

40. Avoid moochers.

41. Grow your food.

42. String a clothesline.

43. Swap stuff.

44. Always pay cash.

45. Us it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!

46. Bank online."I have my paycheck direct-deposited and save on driving." —Sue Hibler, Angola, Indiana

47. Think "junk.""I have had enough yard sales, and made enough Goodwill donations, to know that many things aren't really necessary or are impulse purchases that will sit on a shelf. So I generally do not buy anything without then giving two items to Goodwill." —Shelley Edmondson, Sedona, Arizona

48. Procrastinate."Whenever I'm tempted to buy an unplanned item I see at the store, I delay getting it until my next shopping trip. I usually don't buy it then, either." —Donald Clement, Frankford, Delaware

49. Learn a skill."Rather than hire a plumber, I go to the library to research a problem so I can do the repair myself. With a computer and Internet access, it's easy to get an answer to any question." —Hubert Neubauer, Los Angeles, California

50. Muzzle the media."I mute the television during commercials and seldom read magazines, thereby avoiding ads and articles that encourage consumerism." —Diana Joubert, Florence, Alabama [Glad AARP The Magazine is the exception! —Ed.]

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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