Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Savings Challenge

Bundle Up for Savings—But Be Careful

'A la carte' options may be cheaper than options you won't use or need.

As temperatures fall outside, it becomes time to bundle up and save some money. No, I'm not just talking about wearing a sweater around the house so that you can set your thermostat a couple of degrees cooler (although I highly recommend that, too).

Rather, I'm talking about the marketing practice called "bundling." The Web site defines "bundling" as "The practice of joining related products together for the purpose of selling them as a single unit. ... Bundling arrangements usually feature a special pricing arrangement, which make it cheaper to buy the products and services as a bundle than separately."

That sounds simple—and good—particularly since mentioned my favorite word: "cheaper." In many cases, buying bundled products and services really can be a good value.

For example, bundling your insurance policies, such as homeowner's, automobile, and other coverage, into a package policy with a single insurance company can often lower your total premiums by 10 percent or more. Bundling is also popular and often cost-effective in the telecom industry, where you might get a discount by buying phone, TV, and Internet service from a single provider.

There are also some good values to be had on bundled consumer products, particularly if you're in the market for a home computer or other consumer electronics.

But be careful when you consider buying specially priced bundles of products and services; they're not always the best deal. Here's what to watch out for:

  • Always compare à la carte pricing. Just because something is billed as a "specially priced" package deal doesn't mean that the package price is lower than the individual components would be if you bought them separately. Always check the current prices of the individual products and services included in the bundle, including any sale or promotional discounts that may apply.
  • Do you really need it? Oftentimes bundles include things you're not really in the market for, but at such a nominal additional cost, who can resist? Ask yourself if you really want or need such add-ons, no matter how little they increase the total price.
  • Beware of introductory offers and short-term contracts. Particularly when buying bundled services like telecom plans, make sure that what you're buying isn't just a specially priced, introductory offer or a short-term contract for service—one designed to increase dramatically in cost once the introductory period expires.
  • Does it require you to spend more in the long run? A number of charities and other groups have started selling bundles of coupons and other discount offers to raise funds. Frequently, many or all of the special offers contained in the bundle require you to spend additional money down the road (e.g., $10 off a restaurant meal costing $25 or more). In cases like that, if what you really want to do is support the charity, you might be better off just writing them a check and foregoing the "money saving" bundle.
  • Read the fine print. As with any purchase, let the buyer beware. Always read the fine print before signing a contract for bundled services, such as telecom services.

Again, bundled products and services are frequently a true value, so don't ignore them. On the other hand, bundling up in a sweater and turning down your thermostat is a lead-pipe cinch when it comes to saving money this winter.

Jeff Yeager is the author of the book, "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches." His Web site is

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.