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How to Save $10,000 a Year

Tips for finding big savings around the house

Air It Out

En español | If you launder your clothes in larger loads (which saves water and energy), use only cold water and dry on an old-fashioned clothesline instead of with an electric dryer, you'll end up with a fatter wallet. Bonus: Your clothes could last up to 50 percent longer.

Estimated savings: $200 per year

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Cancel Your Reservations

Dining out is hard on the wallet as well as the waistline. Fire up the backyard grill and skip the drive-through. If you eat at a restaurant or get carryout meals half as often as you usually do for one year, you'll save money in the four figures.

Estimated savings: $1,000 per year

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Watch the Thermostat

To save energy, keep your house three degrees colder than usual in the winter and three degrees warmer in the summer. Insulate your water heater, set its thermostat to 120 degrees and install an automatic timer to turn it off when it's not in use.

Estimated savings: $500 per year

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Kill the Vampires

Household appliances like TVs and microwaves suck electricity even when off. These vampires account for 5 to 10 percent of total household electricity costs when not in use. Unplug them or attach them to a single power strip that can be flipped off.

Estimated savings: $200 per year

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Scrub Up

Americans spend about $1,350 each year on cleaning supplies and services. Roll up your sleeves, make your own eco-friendly home-cleaning products and get busy. Pick up a copy of The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier at your local library.

Estimated savings: $1,000 per year

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Save Some Green

The lawn-and-garden-care industry rakes in $80 billion a year from American households, each of which spends about $1,100. Roughly half goes to labor. Do it yourself and get a workout: Yard work burns about 330 calories per hour.

Estimated savings: $550 per year

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Rethink Your Commute

Walk, ride a bike or use mass transit to get to work: You'll save thousands, based on AAA estimates of the cost of owning and operating a car and the length of the typical American commute, which is about 32 miles round-trip per workday.

Estimated savings: $4,000 per year

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Go Cold Turkey

If you smoke one or more packs of cigarettes, buy six or more lottery tickets, drink at least one alcoholic beverage at a bar or restaurant or buy a candy bar, bag of chips and a soda from a vending machine daily, stop at least one such habit.

Estimated savings: $2,000 per year

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Get Extra Credit

The often overlooked saver's credit (aka the Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions) is designed to help lower-income taxpayers save more. Requirements depend on income and filing status, but basically, if you put money into a 401(k), 403(b), IRA or 457 plan, the federal government will hand you a tax credit for as much as 50 percent. For details, see IRS Form 8880.

Estimated savings: Up to $1,000 for a single filer, or $2,000 for a household

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