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Your Two Cents

AARP Members' Tips for Saving Money

We asked. You answered. More ways to cut costs on everything.

wallet full of ones

— Steve Hix/Somos Images/Corbis

When AARP set out to help members save money on everything, we knew we had a big job on our hands. We worked hard not only to dig up cost-cutting tips on health, travel and more, but also to highlight the many financial benefits of AARP membership. Mission accomplished, right?

Not exactly. Since we didn't want to shortchange the millions of AARP members who are already saving money on everything every day, we asked you to share your money-savings secrets. And, boy, did you answer. Below you'll find just a few of the many tips sent in, and we're always looking for more ways to save. To discuss these and other ideas with fellow members, visit AARP's online community and join one of our penny-pinching groups, such as Savings Challenge or Make Ends Meet.

Hello, Deli!
The cost of a Sunday morning breakfast for two in a diner is easily pushing $25 and more. The same $25 will buy enough lunch meat and rolls at a deli to last almost a week. —Louis A., 79, Upper Darby, Pa.

Military Intelligence
Take a Navy shower. Fresh water is limited on ships. Therefore, sailors are instructed to wet themselves, turn off the water and lather up, and then turn the water back on and finish their shower. —John C., 63, Columbia, Tenn.

Skip the Hotel
When we go on vacation, we like to find a condo or vacation home to rent for the week or more and use it as a base. We buy groceries and eat breakfast in. And depending on our plans, we can have our other meals in or on the go. We still go out for meals if we choose, but we like the chance to eat healthy. It's also nice to have a washer and dryer at our convenience. —Alex F., 58, Haddam, Conn.

Buy the Book
The best way to save money on book purchases is by buying at book sales sponsored by Friends of Libraries, AAUW, churches and other charitable organizations. The books are donated by local patrons and include all types: children's, fiction, nonfiction and reference. The best part is that they sell for 50 cents to a dollar or two. —Helen O., 63, Hudson, Mass.

Have a Coke (at Home) and a Smile
When dining out, I enjoy tap water for free. I save not only the cost of the beverage but also tax and tip. Then I can fully enjoy my Coca-Cola at home later, for about 20 cents per can (the price I pay by buying 12-packs on sale at the grocery store or pharmacy). —Jackie G., 61, Atlanta

Darn It!
If you get a snag in a nice sweater, take a needle threader or crochet hook with a very, very fine point and pull the snag through to the other side. —Sandy P., 58, Joliet, Ill.

This Won't Hurt a Bit
Low-cost dental services are available at dental hygiene schools: Exam by a dentist, X-rays, head and neck and oral cancer exam, and thorough cleaning by dental hygiene students. All performed under close supervision — and done well. Check adha.org for locations. —Carol C., 67, Wichita, Kan.

Pooper Scooper
I save the plastic newspaper bags, and take one with me when I walk my dog. If she does her business in anyone's yard, I use the bag to scoop it up and dispose of it. —Carol H., 56, Spring, Texas

Get a Load of This
I use a portable dehumidifier in our basement in the summer. When I empty it every morning, I pour the collected water into the washing machine. It's surprising how fast it adds up. —N.F., 61, Cedar Springs, Mich.

Cost-Cutting Condiments
Don't buy sauces at the grocery store. Make them yourself. Shrimp cocktail sauce can be made with ketchup, lemon juice and a dash of horseradish. Tartar sauce can be stirred up quickly by using mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish or pickle juice, and some mustard and lemon juice. —Janet P., 59, Bloomington, Ind.

Paper …
To save on paper costs, use both sides of the paper, especially for large documents. To save on computer ink costs, print text documents using the "fast draft" option. —Bernard C., 65, Lowell, Mass.

… or Plastic?
Wash, rinse and reuse your food storage bags. —Kathleen S., 67, Seneca, S.C.

A Turn for the Better
When planning local trips, make sure your route uses right turns instead of left turns. This will save a fair amount of gas due to less idle time. —Robert M., 60, Fairfield, Ohio

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