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Savings Challenge

10 Bad Spending Habits

Break these habits and save even more money

1. Out-of-network ATM fees

Racking up fees by using ATMs that aren't on your bank's network? Switch banks or open an account at a bank that's more convenient to where you live/work. "Foreign" ATM fees average about $2.50 per transaction, says BankRates.com. That's more than $250 per year if you use out-of-system ATMs just twice a week!

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2. Bottled water

Getting your recommended daily amount of water exclusively in bottled form can easily cost more than $1,000 per year, as compared with about 50 cents per year for just-as-healthy tap water. If your tap water has a chlorine flavor, try refrigerating it overnight before drinking.

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3. Oil changes

Regularly changing the oil in your vehicles and staying on top of routine maintenance are good habits to have, but if you're still changing your oil every 3,000 miles, you may be wasting money. Newer vehicles often use synthetic oils that can last 7,500 miles or more. See the website checkyournumber.org for oil change info for newer model vehicles. It's a pretty slick way to save.

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4. Incandescent light bulbs

Even though they cost more, "compact fluorescent lamps" (CFLs) — those crazy corkscrewed light bulbs — last about five times longer than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs and use about 75 percent less electricity. That could easily add up to a net savings of $10 per bulb per year. Bright idea!

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5. Extended service plans

Don't be a sucker for the sales pitch trying to sell you an extended service plan or warranty of electronics, appliances and other merchandise. They're rarely a wise purchase, and typically go unused or forgotten by the consumer. Most merchandise comes with a manufacturer's warranty that's sufficient for most defects and repairs.

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6. Late fees

Recent consumer protection regulations have helped to limit how much lenders can penalize you if you're late with a payment, but Americans still pay more than $20 billion each year in credit card late fees and other penalties! Put routine monthly bills on an automatic payment plan through your bank so they're always paid on time.

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7. Dry cleaning

Check yourself — and your garment tags — if you're constantly running to the dry cleaners. Few of today's garments really need to be dry cleaned. Hand washing in cold water and then air drying is preferable for many apparel items, according to Consumer Reports. Home dry cleaning kits are another money-saving alternative.

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8. Brand-name products

We're conditioned by advertising to reach for brand-name products without even thinking. At least try generic and store brands, starting with the products you buy most often. You'll typically save 20 percent or more.

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9. Aggressive driving

Fast and aggressive driving is dangerous and can cost you big bucks in terms of accidents, traffic tickets and increased insurance premiums. But even if you survive those hazards, aggressive driving — rapid acceleration, fast cornering and sudden braking — can lower your gas mileage by as much as a third, not to mention increase wear and tear on your vehicle.

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10. Lottery tickets

Speaking of driving, did you know that if you drive 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket, statistically speaking you're more likely to be killed in a car accident than win the jackpot? Why not just stay home and save what you would otherwise spend on lottery tickets?

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